The Dr Pepper Company is the oldest manufacturer of soft drinks in the United States. Dr Pepper soda pop was first made and sold in 1885 at W.B. Morrison's drug store in the central Texas town of Waco. Morrison had moved to Texas from Virginia, having worked as a pharmacist in a drug store in Rural Retreat owned by Dr. Charles Pepper. Charles T. Pepper was an 1855 graduate of the University of Virginia Medical School and is known to have practiced medicine at his pharmacy in Rural Retreat.
Charles Alderton, a young English pharmacist working at Morrison's store in Waco, also served carbonated drinks at the soda fountain. The Dr Pepper flavor was developed by Alderton. Dr Pepper is most likely named after Charles Pepper, Morrison's former employer. Pepper's name was probably chosen to bolster the image of the drink which was being sold as a brain tonic and energizing drink.
Alderton appears to have terminated his connection with the manufacture of Dr Pepper at an early stage.
Morrison began to mass produce Dr Pepper together with Robert S. Lazenby who was proprietor of The Circle "A" Ginger Ale Company in Waco. Morrison and Lazenby produced the flavoring syrup in Lazenby's bottling plant, a small frame building on Bridge Street in Waco. Ever-increasing sales required that they move to larger premises in 1886 and again in 1887. Rapid growth led to the construction of their own 3-story brick building with basement. Completed in 1889, the 'Home of Dr Pepper' became a landmark in downtown Waco. This architectural monolith was constructed from solid brick walls 18" thick and massive timber underpinnings, finished off with a tile grooved roof. This building is still standing.
In 1904, Lazenby and his son-in-law, J.B. O'Hara, introduced Dr Pepper to almost 20 million people attending the 1904 World's Fair Exposition in St. Louis. The exposition was the setting for more than one major product debut. Hamburgers and hot dogs were first served on buns at the exposition, and the ice cream cone was introduced. Dr Pepper president Robert Lazenby, designed an exposition watch with the fair's emblem on one side and the words "The Home of Dr Pepper, Waco, Texas," on the other. Ceramic urns used as syrup containers at the fair were labeled "Dr Pepper Phos-Ferrates".
An early advertising slogan for Dr Pepper was "Liquid Sunshine." Others were "If Atlas were on earth, he would recommend Dr Pepper," and "It leaves a pleasant farewell and a gracious call back."
Dr Pepper long viewed itself as being a company centered around health and fitness. Continuing in this direction it bought the Freckleater Company in 1906. This company manufactured an ointment for removing freckles from the skin. This business was soon sold back to its original owner for the same price it was purchased.
On April 10, 1911 Dr Pepper threw a Prosperity Banquet for over 2,000 guests on the streets of downtown Waco. The celebration organized in conjunction with The Young Men's Business League of Waco marked the outstanding progress of the city of Waco. The banquet included full table service, a complimentary bottle of Dr Pepper for each patron and even a viewing gallery where uninvited guests could observe the festivities.
Morrison and Lazenby formed a new firm, the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which later was renamed the Dr Pepper Company. Lazenby and O'Hara moved the company from Waco to Dallas in 1923.
From 1910 to 1914, Dr Pepper was identified with the slogan, "King of Beverages." "Old Doc," a typical country doctor character with monocle and top hat, became the Dr Pepper trademark character in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1927, J.B. O'Hara asked Dr. Walter H. Eddy, Professor of Physiological Chemistry at Columbia University in New York and an authority on nutrition and vitamins, to conduct a study on daily human fatigue. Eddy concluded that the average person experiences a letdown during the normal day at 10:30a.m., 2:30p.m. and 4:30p.m. That was the origin of the advertising slogan, "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4" which served as the Dr Pepper slogan for many years.
When Dr Pepper was first introduced, the product contained no caffeine or cocaine. Though both substances were legal at the time, some researchers considered them dangerous. In 1917, Robert Lazenby reconsidered when he learned that caffeine had the tonic and energizing effects that he had long associated with the drink. Caffeine was added from 1917 until 1939, when the caffeine was removed and vitamin B-1 was added. The vitamin caused the product to spoil easily and changed the taste. Soon afterwards the vitamin was removed and caffeine re-included.
Early gallonage books at the Dr Pepper Company reveal that the first Dr Pepper franchise granted to anyone in Pennsylvania was made to M. E. D. Abel of Uniontown in 1938. Abel was an aviation enthusiast, who owned his own plane and had a private pilot's license. He also owned businesses including coal and wholesaling. All the other Pennsylvania Dr Pepper bottlers were established after WWII, beginning in 1946, 1947 and 1948.
Dr Pepper is, even today in 1999, a major manufacturer of soft drinks.