Last Place That Made Original Formula Dr Pepper
Note: As of Jan. 2010, plant no longer bottles Dr Pepper, though the museum is apparently still welcoming visitors.
Adrift in the galaxy of soda pop, somewhere between planet Moxie and the Pepsi Zero black hole, is Dr Pepper. It's an acquired taste, sometimes compared to carbonated prune juice by those who haven't yet acquired. It was invented in Texas in 1882, and has had a loyal following there ever since. Two museums -- one in Waco, and this one in Dublin -- tell the story of the drink once marketed as "Distinctively different."
The world's oldest bottler of Dr Pepper is the Dublin Bottling Works, still in operation, and the only place in the world that still uses cane sugar -- not corn syrup -- to sweeten it. If this doesn't sound very exciting to you, then you're obviously not one of the Dr Pepper faithful who travel here from all over the U.S. just to stock up on cases of the original formula.
The machinery in the plant is so old and clunky that it can only use original vintage thick glass bottles, which is why it only operates one day a month. Dr Pepper bottled here is regarded as something of an historic artifact. Those who merely crave a taste of the original need not worry; you can buy less-expensive original formula Dr Pepper, bottled elsewhere, in the gift shop.
In front of the plant is a statue, "Sweet Inspirations." It depicts the plant's owner, Bill Kloster -- "Mr. Dr Pepper" -- offering a bottle to a pigtailed little girl. Kloster believed in the original formula, and was the man responsible for keeping it here after every other bottler had gone over to the cheaper sweetener. When his wife told him that he was drinking too much cane sugar, he secretly had the regular Dr Pepper put into the diet bottles that he stocked in his home refrigerator. Kloster worked at Dublin Bottling Works for 67 years, from age 14 until the day he died in 1999, after a full day at the plant.
Being faithful to the past has had drawbacks for the Dublin Bottling Works. When parts break on its ancient assembly line, its workers have to fashion new ones themselves. It stood still on the day that we visited. Long rows of bottled Dr Pepper sat silently on the production line, baking in the Texas sun pouring through dusty windows.
Note: There are some interesting old Dr Pepper signs and paintings on the outside of the plant and on surrounding buildings.