Dr. Pepper is the oldest carbonated soda sold in the United States. The popular drink is sold all over the US, Europe, and Asia, and imported to many other countries. However, sadly, the drink never truly belonged to its creator.
Before we get into Who Owns Dr. Pepper, let’s look at who created it and how it became a top-selling soda.
- When was Dr. Pepper Invented?
- Naming Dr. Pepper
- The Growing Demand
- History Or Mystery?
- Who Owns Dr. Pepper – A New Dawn
- The Buy-Outs To Ensue
- Amazing Dr. Pepper Gift Ideas!
- Who Owns Dr. Pepper – Final Thoughts
When was Dr. Pepper Invented?
In 1882, Wade Morrison, a corner drugstore owner in Waco, Texas, employed a pharmacist named Charles Alderton. Alderton enjoyed mixing tinctures and medicine, coming up with unique combinations to heal the ailments of the town.
Carbonated sodas were often advertised as health drinks during this time. Naturally, Alderton started to dabble in mixing different flavors to create a new original drink. Morrison played the guinea pig to taste-test every batch until the two were satisfied that it was perfect. It is rumored to contain an exact blend of 23 ingredients.
Naming Dr. Pepper
During its introduction to the public in 1885, it became extremely popular overnight. So much so that while it wasn’t named yet, the customers would simply ask Alderton to “shoot them a Waco.” Morrison knew that naming the drink after the town would not be easy to advertise elsewhere. Also, it was customary for drugstores to market items as healthy by adding the prefix “Dr.” in front of it.
It is said that Morrison came up with the name Dr. Pepper, naming it after the surgeon who gave him his first job when he was a teenager. However, this is pure speculation, as many sources say that it was never confirmed by Morrison himself.
The Growing Demand
The syrup was soon sold to soda fountain owners all over Waco. Once the demand grew beyond the scope of the drugstore’s manufacturing capabilities, Morrison took the chance to expand the business.
Although Alderton was the mastermind behind the unique soda, he sold the formula to his employer, Morrison. This decision came when he decided that he would rather focus on medicine than soft drinks and became a bona fide doctor himself.
Introducing Dr. Pepper for the first time!
Morrison used this opportunity to co-found the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company with Robert Lazenby, a beverage chemist, in 1891. The company soon became known as the Dr. Pepper Company. Dr. Pepper soda was introduced at the 1904 Worlds Fair in St Louis.
History Or Mystery?
Although history would like us to believe that the company was always successful, it appears a small detail had been glossed over. The Dr. Pepper Company allegedly went out of business in 1920, but the details are all a bit vague as to exactly how it happened.
A district judge claimed that a false tax return was filed, which prompted an audit for the year 1918. Findings showed that although they downplayed their earnings, however, it still showed a total net income of roughly $13,000 for the year.
Shady details about what happened…
The company was meant to pay a tax return of $3,500 but had dissolved by then. Lazenby was listed as the sole stakeholder, which meant he was liable to foot the bill personally.
It is speculated that Lazenby was smart enough to buy out Morrison’s shares before closing the company, scoring himself sole ownership over the Dr. Pepper formula, playing a longer game.
The company moves to Dallas…
What led to the demise of the company in the first place remains a debated topic, but World War I efforts definitely played a role in the demand, as global trade for raw and processed resources were affected, and many materials and food item priorities were placed elsewhere.
Lazenby then reemerged by opening the Dr. Pepper Company again a few years later. He moved the company from Waco to Dallas in 1923. Lazenby’s son-in-law, John B. O’Hara, assisted him in starting a new chapter of the Dr. Pepper legacy.
Who Owns Dr. Pepper – A New Dawn
Under the fresh-faced leadership of O’Hara as Vice President and later President, the company did extremely well after the first world war. He managed to gather new investors and used aggressive advertising in hundreds of publications to push the brand across 14 states.
Even in the face of the Great Depression and World War II, Dr. Pepper persevered. O’Hara remained in his post as the company’s president until 1943. He then became chairman of the board and held the position until he died in 1961. Unfortunately, his only son and grandchild, Robert Lazenby, died in action during World War II.
The company continued to soar as Dr. Pepper continued to soldier on. The popular drink was available for purchase in all states by 1973.
The Buy-Outs To Ensue
Cadbury, a world-renowned confectionery company that was established almost 200 years ago, opened a Cadbury Schweppes division in 1969 after acquiring the Schweppes beverage brand. They bought out The American Bottling company in 1998 as a safety net to protect popular soft drinks from going under, as Coca-Cola and Pepsi both require non-compete clauses at bottling facilities.
They then acquired both the Dr. Pepper Company and Seven-Up in 2006 and 2007 and demerged to form the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in 2008. Keurig Green Mountain then went on to buy the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for almost $19 billion, forming Keurig Dr. Pepper in 2018.
- Pepper In Pop Culture
Over the past 135 years, Dr. Pepper has had some amazing slogans, and signs, that some may say are “timeless”:
- The 1890s – “Drink the year-round”
- The 1910s – “King of beverages”
- The 1970s – “I’m a Pepper”
- The 1980s – “The one and only”
- The 2000s – “Just what the Dr ordered” & “The drink that makes the world taste better”
- The 2010s & 2020s – “Always one of a kind” & “Amazingly smooth”
Unfortunately, there was a time when practices that we know are unhealthy today were marketed as being healthy. In some of the advertisements, Dr. Pepper promised health and vitality, and others would say, “drink a bite to eat at ten, two, and four!” Of course, skipping meals for soda is not a good idea in any shape or form, and we are happy that these types of ads are no longer in use.
John Lennon loved Dr. Pepper so much after discovering the drink in the US, that he had crates of it shipped to England. It is said that he claimed it fueled his creativity.
The Beatles released an album called Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, after they were told that the name “Dr. Pepper” was trademarked. Of course, John Lennon would have loved to name the album after his favorite soft drink, but it was Paul McCartney that came up with the alternative of the prefix Sgt after playing with salt and pepper packets on an airplane, labeled “S” and “P.”
Musicians love Dr. Pepper!
Many other musicians fell in love with Dr. Pepper and requested the drink to be served during recording sessions and backstage at performances.
Dr. Pepper’s rival drink, Coca-Cola, was initially sold as a medicinal drink as well and had cocaine in its original recipe. That fact was downplayed heavily over the years to break the stigma of having a drug connected to the brand. It was no surprise, given that musicians often relied on recreational use of drugs, that rumors began to spread – to imply that Dr. Pepper was “addictive.” However, the rumor did not deter anyone; it may have just contributed to its popularity among consumers.
Amazing Dr. Pepper Gift Ideas!
I have found some great Dr. Pepper Merchandise online such as the Compatible with AirPods 1/2 Case Red Pepper, Food Design Kids Teens Girls Boys Women Protective Silicone Skin, the 2PAIRS Drinking Gift If You Can Read This Bring Me A Drinking Novelty Socks For Men Women, and the Hand-Crafted Natural Soy Candle from Small Flame Candle Company (Dr. Pepper).
But that’s not all! I also recommend the Men/Women Print Classic Dr-Pepper-Snapple-Group- Soft Mesh Baseball Cap, the Keviewly Dr. Pepper Metal Wall Art Tin Signs Warning Animal Funny Restaurant Bar, the Bring me a Dr. Pepper and tell me I am Pretty Glitter Tumbler Stainless Steel, and the Dr. Pepper Logo Red Plastic Tumblers Set of 4-16oz, as great presents!
Take a look at these cute mini-fridges, like the CURTIS MIS135DRP DR. Pepper Mini Portable Compact Personal Fridge Cooler, 4 Liter Capacity, the CURTIS MIS153DRP Dr. Pepper Retro Mini Portable Compact Personal Fridge Cooler, 4 Liter Capacity, 6 Cans, Freon-Free & Eco Friendly, Maroon, and even the Coca-Cola Retro Vending Machine Style 10 Can Thermoelectric Mini Fridge, available online in 2023.
Who Owns Dr. Pepper – Final Thoughts
As of 2018, Dr. Pepper is owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper.
The popular drink has come such a long way since its humble beginnings. It is unclear how much money Wade Morrison ever made from his success before his retirement and death; and even more curious, how much Charles Alderton ever made from his invention.
It would, however, be safe to say that the accidental alchemist would more than likely have held onto it if he had known that it would turn into a liquid goldmine. Would the drink then have been named Dr. Alderton? It does not have quite the same ring to it. However, abbreviated, Dr. Aldi’s sounds like another near-miss trademark issue.
Either way, let’s ponder what could have been and reminisce a little with a cold can of Dr. Pepper, now available in nine signature drinks!
So, sit back, relax and enjoy your ice-cold Dr. Pepper!
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