11 Things You Might Not Know About Dr Pepper

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You already know that Dr Pepper has a unique, spicy flavor, but did you know its corporate history is just as crisp and interesting? 

1. IT'S GOT TEXAS ROOTS.

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Like many beloved soft drinks, Dr Pepper was the product of experimentation in a pharmacy. Charles Alderton, a pharmacist at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, enjoyed experimenting with the flavored syrups at the shop’s soda fountain. Instead of just accepting the standard fruit flavors available at the time, in 1885 Alderton mixed and matched flavorings until he had crafted a unique drink that customers loved. 

2. THERE MAY HAVE BEEN AN ACTUAL DR. PEPPER.

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Once Alderton perfected his new concoction, it needed a name. Patrons originally referred to the drink as “a Waco,” but Alderton’s boss, Wade Morrison, thought the elixir needed a catchier name. Morrison dubbed the drink Dr. Pepper in a nod to a Dr. Charles T. Pepper who he claimed had been a colleague in his younger days in Rural Retreat, Virginia. In one telling of this story, Morrison had left Virginia for Texas after a love affair with Dr. Pepper’s daughter went flat, but signs point to this romantic origin tale being mostly urban legend. 

3. THE TEXAS SODA TOOK THE NATIONAL STAGE AT THE 1904 WORLD'S FAIR. 

Texas’s favorite soda fizzed its way into the national consciousness at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. As the Dr Pepper Museum notes, the drink joined the ice cream cone, the hamburger, and the hot dog in making their first big splashes at the event. 

4. LEGALLY, IT'S NOT A COLA.

For much of Dr Pepper’s history, the drink was a regional delicacy confined to the South and Southwest. Coca-Cola and Pepsi had used their head starts on Dr Pepper to build nationwide networks of independent bottlers who had exclusive franchise contracts to turn their respective syrups into colas. Dr Pepper simply couldn’t crack into new markets with the deck stacked so squarely against it. 

That all changed in 1963. A federal court ruled that Dr Pepper’s unique flavor kept it from being a “cola product,” which meant that bottlers were free to distribute Dr Pepper without running afoul of their exclusive deals with Coca-Cola and Pepsi. By the end of the decade, Dr Pepper was available from coast to coast. 

5. COCO-COLA DIDN'T TAKE THIS EXPANSION LIGHTLY.

Dr Pepper, Facebook

A terrific 1975 D Magazine profile of Woodrow Wilson “Foots” Clements, the executive who took Dr Pepper national, chronicles Coca-Cola’s response to the upstart’s growth. In June 1972, Coca-Cola announced Mr. PiBB, its in-house answer to Dr Pepper. The article contains some classic sniping between the two brands, with a Coke spokesperson dismissing any resemblance by saying, “I haven’t tasted Dr Pepper myself so I wouldn’t know how similar Mr. PiBB is to it. I don’t think it was meant to compete with Dr Pepper - as far as I know Coke just felt there was a market for this kind of soft drink." 

Clements, for his part, countered that Coke’s efforts had actually helped Dr Pepper’s sales. The executive crowed, "I don’t suppose they like to hear me say this in Atlanta, but Mr. PiBB has just stimulated the taste for Dr Pepper. In fact, we’ve found that whenever they quit giving it away in big promotions their share of the market drops way down." 

6. THERE'S NO PERIOD IN THE NAME.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It may have allegedly been named after a physician, but the correct styling of the name is “Dr Pepper,” not “Dr. Pepper.” The company dropped the period from the name in the 1950s as part of a redesign of the corporate logo. Most sources suggest that the revamped logo was easier to read without the punctuation, and Dr Pepper was reborn. 

7. IT'S NOT JUST FOR DRINKING COLD.

OBSEQUIES, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A cold Dr Pepper can be heavenly on a hot day, but very few families gather around their Christmas trees for a frosty soda in December. In the ’60s Dr Pepper tried to stimulate holiday sales by marketing hot Dr Pepper with lemon as a festive alternative tipple for winter gatherings. The ads found some traction in the South, but as you’ve probably noticed, warm Dr Pepper didn’t become a holiday staple. Still, hot Dr Pepper had its devotees. In the ’70s Foots Clements told multiple journalists that he would have three or four hot Dr Peppers in the morning and a half-dozen cold bottles every afternoon. 

8. THE ORIGINAL RECIPE MAY HAVE SURFACED IN 2009.

Six years ago, Oklahoma manuscript collector Bill Waters paid $200 for an old store ledger at a Texas antique shop. Notations in the ledger referred to Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store, examples of Charles Anderton’s handwriting, and a curious recipe for “D Peppers Pepsin Bitters” mixed from mandrake root and syrup. A spokesman from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group indicated that the notes were probably a recipe for a bitter digestive aid rather than a soft drink, but the historical find went up for auction as the original formula for the beloved soda. Attendees at the auction agreed—the item did not fetch the $25,000 minimum reserve price. 

9. ROANOKE CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF IT.

Whether or not there was ever a real Dr. Charles T. Pepper in Virginia remains a matter of debate, but one Virginia city would rather drink a cold Dr Pepper than engage in fact-checking. Roanoke has been Dr Pepper’s biggest metro market east of the Mississippi, and in 1957, the city became the “Dr Pepper Capital of the World.” One secret to the drink’s success in the area? That story about Wade Morrison’s youthful heartbreak at the hands of Dr. Pepper’s daughter may or may not have been true, but the local romance resonated with Roanoke’s soda drinkers and appeared prominently in area promotions.

10. A SPECIAL VARIANT DISAPPEARED IN 2012.

For 121 years, a bottling plant in Dublin, Texas made and bottled Dr Pepper. By 2012, the Dublin Bottling Works was the country’s tiniest bottler and also the most unusual. Its “Dublin Dr Pepper” was still being made with cane sugar years after the rest of the country had switched to high fructose corn syrup. It was also sold in special retro bottles. After a yearlong legal dispute over distribution territories and labeling, in 2012 the Dr Pepper Snapple Group bought the franchise rights to the area and discontinued Dublin Dr Pepper. However, the news wasn’t all bad for fans of the product—Dr Pepper Snapple Group agreed to keep making real-sugar Dr Pepper for this region of Texas. 

11. THERE'S A DR PEPPER MUSEUM.

Ann W, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If you need to inject some Dr Pepper into your next road trip, Waco is home to a museum devoted to its native beverage, including its creation and iconic advertising campaigns like 1977’s “Be a Pepper.” 

12 Amazing Facts About Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great moved to a foreign land as a teenager and became one of the most important leaders in its history. During her 34-year reign, she transformed Russia’s culture while expanding its borders. Here's what you need to know about the unlikely ruler, who is the subject of not one, but two series: HBO's Catherine the Great, which debuts on October 21, 2019, and Hulu's The Great, slated for 2020.

  1. Catherine the Great's name wasn't Catherine.

The woman who would become Catherine the Great was born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst on April 21, 1729 (Julian Calendar) in Stettin, Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland). She was the daughter of Christian August, a minor German prince and general in the Prussian army, and Princess Johanna Elisabeth, who had connections to the Russian royal family.

Despite being a princess herself, young Sophie wasn’t exactly a top-tier member of the European nobility. But thanks to her mother’s campaigning, she was chosen to marry Karl Peter Ulrich (later known as Tsar Peter III), heir to the Russian throne. The couple wed on August 21, 1745. Sophie converted to Russian Orthodoxy—despite her Lutheran father’s objections—and took on a new Russian name: Ekaterina, or “Catherine.” Her official title would be Empress Catherine II (Peter the Great's second wife had been Empress Catherine I).

  1. Catherine the Great's marriage to Peter the III was rocky.

Catherine and Peter were an ill-matched pair: Catherine was bright and ambitious whereas Peter, according to Britannica, was "mentally feeble." Catherine didn’t like him: “Peter III had no greater enemy than himself; all his actions bordered on insanity,” she wrote in 1789. Her memoirs portray the Tsar as a drunk, a simpleton, and somebody who “took pleasure in beating men and animals.” Whether these statements are accurate or not, Catherine and her spouse were clearly unhappy, and they both had extramarital affairs. Catherine had at least three affairs, and hinted that none of her children were her husband's.

  1. Catherine the Great overthrew Peter the III so that she could rule.

Peter III assumed the throne on January 5, 1762, and was immediately unpopular. He enraged the military by pulling out of the Seven Years’ War and making big concessions to Russia’s adversaries in the process.

Eventually, Catherine believed that Peter was going to divorce her—so she worked with her lover, Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, and her other allies to overthrow him and take the throne for herself. In July 1762, just six months after he took the throne, Peter III was deposed in a coup d'état. Eight days later, he was killed while in the custody of one of Catherine's co-conspirators.

With Peter out of the picture, Catherine became the new empress of Russia. She was formally crowned on September 22, 1762. She never married again, and took numerous lovers during her long reign.

  1. Voltaire was basically Catherine the Great's pen pal.

Catherine, a bibliophile, built up a collection of 44,000 books. Early in her reign, she began a correspondence with one of her favorite authors: The great Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. Russia fascinated Voltaire, who had written a biography of Peter the Great. Catherine would never get the chance to meet him in person, but through these letters, she and Voltaire discussed everything from disease prevention to Catherine's love of English gardens.

  1. Catherine the Great annexed Crimea.

Russian interest in the Crimean Peninsula long predates Vladimir Putin. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 to 1774, Catherine seized the landmass, thus strengthening Russia’s presence on the Black Sea. And her conquests didn’t end there. Over 200,000 square miles of new territory was added to the Russian empire during Catherine’s rule. Much of it was acquired when the once-independent nation of Poland was divided between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Tsarina Catherine’s slice contained portions of modern-day Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine.

An illustration of Catherine the Great.
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  1. Great Britain asked for Catherine the Great's help when the Revolutionary War broke out.

In 1775, the Earl of Dartmouth approached Catherine with a request for 20,000 Russian troops to help Britain put down the colonial rebellion in America. She refused. As the war continued, British diplomats kept trying to establish an alliance with Russia, hoping that the Empress would either send military aid or, failing that, pressure France into abandoning the American cause. Catherine did neither. However, out of concern for Russian shipping interests in the Atlantic (and elsewhere), she did attempt to mediate an end to the violence between Britain and its rebellious colonies in 1780.

  1. Alaska was colonized on Catherine the Great's watch.

Russian explorers had been visiting Alaska since 1741, but the empire didn’t set up its first permanent colony there until 1784, when merchant Grigory Shelikhov sailed to Kodiak Island and established the Three Saints Bay Colony. Later, in 1788, he visited Catherine in St. Petersburg and asked if she’d give his company a monopoly over the area’s lucrative fur trade. She denied his request, but thanked the explorer for “[discovering] new lands and peoples for the benefit of the state.” Russia’s colonial presence in North America would continue long after Catherine’s death—and it wasn’t limited to Alaska.

  1. Catherine the Great embraced inoculation.

Thomas Dimsdale, an English physician, built upon an existing technique for immunizing people to smallpox. The technique involved finding a carrier of the ailment, then taking a blade dipped in a very, very small amount of "the unripe, crude or watery matter" from that person's pustules and injecting it into the patient’s body. In 18th century Russia, smallpox claimed millions of lives, so Catherine was eager to see if Dimsdale’s strategy worked. At her invitation, he came to Russia and quietly inoculated the empress. The procedure was a success, and with the Tsarina’s encouragement, Dimsdale inoculated about 150 members of the nobility. Before the end of the century, approximately 2 million Russians had received smallpox inoculations.

  1. A rebel claimed to be Catherine the Great's dead husband.

Catherine’s Enlightenment-fueled beliefs didn't lead to the demise of serfdom. According to Marc Raeff in his book Catherine the Great: A Profile, "During her reign it was possible to buy and sell serfs with or without land, buy whole families or individuals, transact sales on the estate or marketplace; contemporaries termed all this ‘veritable slavery.'”

The unjust arrangement triggered 160 documented peasant uprisings in the first 10 years of Catherine’s reign. The best known of them was Pugachev’s Rebellion (1773-1775) [PDF], which was organized by Yemelyan Pugachev, a veteran of the Russo-Turkish wars. To win support, he introduced himself as Catherine’s deposed and deceased spouse, Peter III (even though Pugachev looked nothing like Peter). Pugachev and his followers enjoyed some big military victories early on, but after a crushing defeat in August 1774, their revolution fell apart. Pugachev was captured and executed in Moscow on January 10, 1775.

  1. Catherine the Great's art collection was the basis of St. Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.

In 1764, Catherine purchased a set of 225 paintings—including works by Rembrandt and Frans Hals—from a Berlin dealer, and founded the Hermitage with those works. Catherine went on to buy or commission thousands of additional pieces for her budding museum. Today, the State Hermitage Museum has more than 3 million items in its collections.

  1. Catherine the Great was Russia's longest-serving female leader.

Thirty-four years after assuming the throne, Catherine passed away on November 6, 1796. The monarch was succeeded by her son, Tsar Paul I.

  1. Wild rumors flew after Catherine the Great's death—including that one about the horse.

A lot of rumors sprung up in the wake of Catherin's death. One said that she had died while on the toilet, while another—the most persistent tale, and a completely unfounded one—claimed that Catherine the Great was crushed to death while attempting to have sex with a stallion. Where exactly the story came from is unknown; an autopsy determined that the empress had actually died of a cerebral stroke.

10 Facts About the Beastie Boys's 'Sabotage' Video

Beastie Boys via YouTube
Beastie Boys via YouTube

With their raucous mix of rock and hip-hop, the Beastie Boys were a band everyone could love. They also made killer music videos, and their 1994 video for “Sabotage” is arguably one of the greatest in the history of the medium. Directed by Spike Jonze and inspired by ‘70s cop shows, “Sabotage” finds the Beasties in cheesy suits, wigs, and mustaches, cavorting around L.A. like a bunch of bootleg Starskys and Hutches. If you were alive in the ‘90s, you’ve seen “Sabotage” a million times, but there’s a lot you might not know about this iconic video.

1. It all began with a photo shoot.

Spike Jonze met the Beastie Boys when he photographed them for Dirt magazine in the early 1990s. The band showed up with its own concept. “For years, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz had been talking about doing a photo session as undercover cops—wearing ties and fake mustaches and sitting in a car like we were on a stakeout,” Adam “MCA” Yauch told New York Magazine. Jonze loved the idea so much he tagged along when the Beasties went wig shopping. “Then, while he was taking the pictures, he was wearing this blond wig and mustache the whole time,” Yauch said. “For no apparent reason.” So was born a friendship that begat “Sabotage.”

2. Spike Jonze filmed “Sabotage” without permits.

The Beasties weren’t big fans of high-budget music videos with tons of people on the set. So they asked Jonze to hire a couple of assistants and run the whole production out of a van. “Then we just ran around L.A. without any permits and made everything up as we went along,” MCA told New York. They’re lucky the real cops never showed up.

3. The Beastie Boys did all their own stunt driving.

After binge-watching VHS tapes of The Streets of San Francisco and other ‘70s cop shows, the Beasties knew they needed some sweet chase scenes. “We bought a car that was about to die,” Mike D told Vanity Fair. “We just drove the car ourselves. We almost killed the car a couple of times, but we definitely didn’t come close to killing ourselves.”

4. “Sabotage” inspired the opening sequence of Trainspotting.

Danny Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting famously opens with Ewan McGregor and his buddies running through the streets of Edinburgh to the tune of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” In the DVD commentary, Boyle revealed that the scene was inspired by “Sabotage.”

5. Two cameras were harmed in the making of “Sabotage.”

“Sabotage” was supposed to be a low-budget affair—and it would’ve been, had Jonze been a little more careful with his rented cameras. He destroyed a Canon Scoopic when the Ziploc bag he used to protect the camera during an underwater shot proved less than airtight. He apparently told the rental agency the camera stopped working on its own, but he wasn’t as lucky when an Arriflex SR3 fell out of a van window. That cost $84,000, effectively tripling the cost of the video.

6. MCA crashed the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards to protest “Sabotage” being shut out.

At the 1994 MTV VMAs, “Sabotage” was nominated for five awards, including Video of the Year. In one of the great injustices of all time, it lost in all five categories. When R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” won Best Direction, MCA invaded the stage dressed as Nathanial Hörnblowér, his Swiss uncle/filmmaker alter-ego. “Since I was a small boy, I had dreamed that Spike would win this,” MCA said as a confused Michael Stipe looked on. “Now this has happened, and I want to tell everyone this is a farce, and I had the ideas for Star Wars and everything.”

7. There’s a “Sabotage” comic book you can download for free.

After MCA’s death in 2012, artist Derek Langille created a seven-page “Sabotage” comic book in tribute to the fallen musician and filmmaker. You can download it for free here.

8. There’s also a “Sabotage” novel.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Sabotage,” Oakland-based author and Beasties super-fan Jeff Gomez wrote a five-act novel inspired by the video. He spent months researching cop movies and real-life police lingo, and he watched “Sabotage” about 100 times, keeping a detailed spreadsheet of all the action unfolding onscreen. “They created a really great universe, and I just wanted to play around in it for a little bit,” Gomez told PBS.

9. There’s a “Sabotage”/Sesame Street mashup on YouTube.

In 2017, YouTuber Is This How You Go Viral, a.k.a. Adam Schleichkorn, created the video “Sesametage,” a reimagining of “Sabotage” made with edited bits of Sesame Street. It stars Big Bird as himself, The Count as Cochese, and Oscar the Grouch as Bobby, “The Rookie.” Super Grover, Telly, Cookie Monster, and Bert and Ernie also turn up in this hilarious spoof of a spoof.

10. “Sabotage” nearly became a movie—kind of.

Jonze and the Beasties had such a blast making “Sabotage” that they wrote a script for a feature film called We Can Do This. The movie, which they later abandoned, was set to feature MCA in two roles: Sir Stuart Wallace, one of his “Sabotage” characters, and Nathaniel Hörnblowér (whom he portrayed during that 1994 VMAs protest). Jonze told IndieWire the film would’ve been “ridiculous and fun,” which sounds like the understatement of the century. “There were no 1970s cops in it, but it was definitely in the same spirit,” he said.

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