11 Things You Might Not Know About Dr Pepper

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istock

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.

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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.” 

6 Facts About International Women's Day

iStock.com/robeo
iStock.com/robeo

For more than 100 years, March 8th has marked what has come to be known as International Women's Day in countries around the world. While its purpose differs from place to place—in some countries it’s a day of protest, in others it’s a way to celebrate the accomplishments of women and promote gender equality—the holiday is more than just a simple hashtag. Ahead of this year’s celebration, let’s take a moment to explore the day’s origins and traditions.

1. International Women's Day originated more than 100 years ago.

On February 28, 1909, the now-dissolved Socialist Party of America organized the first National Woman’s Day, which took place on the last Sunday in February. In 1910, Clara Zetkin—the leader of Germany’s 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party—proposed the idea of a global International Women’s Day, so that people around the world could celebrate at the same time. On March 19, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was held; more than 1 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark took part.

2. The celebration got women the vote in Russia.

In 1917, women in Russia honored the day by beginning a strike for “bread and peace” as a way to protest World War I and advocate for gender parity. Czar Nicholas II, the country’s leader at the time, was not impressed and instructed General Khabalov of the Petrograd Military District to put an end to the protests—and to shoot any woman who refused to stand down. But the women wouldn't be intimidated and continued their protests, which led the Czar to abdicate just days later. The provisional government then granted women in Russia the right to vote.

3. The United Nations officially adopted International Women's Day in 1975.

In 1975, the United Nations—which had dubbed the year International Women’s Year—celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th for the first time. Since then, the UN has become the primary sponsor of the annual event and has encouraged even more countries around the world to embrace the holiday and its goal of celebrating “acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

4. International Women's Day is an official holiday in dozens of countries.

International Women’s Day is a day of celebration around the world, and an official holiday in dozens of countries. Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, Mongolia, Georgia, Laos, Cambodia, Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, Russia, and Ukraine are just some of the places where March 8th is recognized as an official holiday.

5. It’s a combined celebration with Mother’s Day in several places.

In the same way that Mother’s Day doubles as a sort of women’s appreciation day, the two holidays are combined in some countries, including Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan. On this day, children present their mothers and grandmothers with small gifts and tokens of love and appreciation.

6. Each year's festivities have an official theme.

In 1996, the UN created a theme for that year’s International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future. In 1997, it was “Women at the Peace Table,” then “Women and Human Rights” in 1998. They’ve continued this themed tradition in the years since; for 2019, it's “Better the balance, better the world” or #BalanceforBetter.

8 Enlightening Facts About Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu
Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu

For decades, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer has used television, radio, the written word, and the internet to speak frankly on topics relating to human sexuality, turning what were once controversial topics into healthy, everyday conversations.

At age 90, Westheimer shows no signs of slowing down. As a new documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, gears up for release on Hulu this spring, we thought we’d take a look at Westheimer’s colorful history as an advisor, author, and resistance sniper.

1. The Nazis devastated her childhood.

Dr. Ruth was born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928 in Wiesenfeld, Germany, the only child of Julius and Irma Siegel. When Ruth was just five years old, the advancing Nazi party terrorized her neighborhood and seized her father in 1938, presumably to shuttle him to a concentration camp. One year later, Karola—who eventually began using her middle name and took on the last name Westheimer with her second marriage in 1961—was sent to a school in Switzerland for her own protection. She later learned that her parents had both been killed during the Holocaust, possibly at Auschwitz.

2. She shocked classmates with her knowledge of taboo topics.

Westheimer has never been bashful about the workings of human sexuality. While working as a maid at an all-girls school in Switzerland, she made classmates and teachers gasp with her frank talk about menstruation and other topics that were rarely spoken of in casual terms.

3. She trained as a sniper for Jewish resistance fighters in Palestine.

Following the end of World War II, Westheimer left Switzerland for Israel, and later Palestine. She became a Zionist and joined the Haganah, an underground network of Jewish resistance fighters. Westheimer carried a weapon and trained as both a scout and sniper, learning how to throw hand grenades and shoot firearms. Though she never saw direct action, the tension and skirmishes could lapse into violence, and in 1948, Westheimer suffered a serious injury to her foot owing to a bomb blast. The injury convinced her to move into the comparatively less dangerous field of academia.

4. A lecture ignited her career.

 Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2015 in New York City.
Robin Marchant, Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

In 1950, Westheimer married an Israeli soldier and the two relocated to Paris, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. Though the couple divorced in 1955, Westheimer's education continued into 1959, when she graduated with a master’s degree in sociology from the New School in New York City. (She received a doctorate in education from Columbia University in 1970.) After meeting and marrying Manfred Westheimer, a Jewish refugee, in 1961, Westheimer became an American citizen.

By the late 1960s, she was working at Planned Parenthood, where she excelled at having honest conversations about uncomfortable topics. Eventually, Westheimer found herself giving a lecture to New York-area broadcasters about airing programming with information about safe sex. Radio station WYNY offered her a show, Sexually Speaking, that soon blossomed into a hit, going from 15 minutes to two hours weekly. By 1983, 250,000 people were listening to Westheimer talk about contraception and intimacy.

5. People told her to lose her accent.

Westheimer’s distinctive accent has led some to declare her “Grandma Freud.” But early on, she was given advice to take speech lessons and make an effort to lose her accent. Westheimer declined, and considers herself fortunate to have done so. “It helped me greatly, because when people turned on the radio, they knew it was me,” she told the Harvard Business Review in 2016.

6. She’s not concerned about her height, either.

In addition to her voice, Westheimer became easily recognizable due to her diminutive stature. (She’s four feet, seven inches tall.) When she was younger, Westheimer worried her height might not be appealing. Later, she realized it was an asset. “On the contrary, I was lucky to be so small, because when I was studying at the Sorbonne, there was very little space in the auditoriums and I could always find a good-looking guy to put me up on a windowsill,” she told the HBR.

7. She advises people not to take huge penises seriously.

Westheimer doesn’t frown upon pornography; in 2018, she told the Times of Israel that viewers can “learn something from it.” But she does note the importance of separating fantasy from reality. “People have to use their own judgment in knowing that in any of the sexually explicit movies, the genitalia that is shown—how should I say this? No regular person is endowed like that.”

8. She lectures on cruise ships.

Westheimer uses every available medium—radio, television, the internet, and even graphic novels—to share her thoughts and advice about human sexuality. Sometimes, that means going out to sea. The therapist books cruise ship appearances where she offers presentations to guests on how best to manage their sex lives. Westheimer often insists the crew participate and will regularly request that the captain read some of the questions.

“The last time, the captain was British, very tall, and had to say ‘orgasm’ and ‘erection,’” she told The New York Times in 2018. “Never did they think they would hear the captain talk about the things we were talking about.” Of course, that’s long been Westheimer’s objective—to make the taboo seem tame.

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