The History of Dr Pepper

The history of Dr Pepper dates back to the late 1880s

Close-up of woman's smiling mouth and soft drink
Dimitri Otis / Getty Images

The history of Dr Pepper dates back to the late 1880s. In 1885, in Waco, Texas, a young pharmacist called Charles Alderton invented the soft drink "Dr Pepper," a carbonated soft drink marketed as having a unique flavor. 

Alderton worked at a place called Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store and carbonated drinks were served at the soda fountain. Alderton invented his own recipes for soft drinks and found one of his drinks was becoming very popular.

His customers originally asked for the drink by asking Alderton to shoot them a "Waco".

Morrison, owner of the drug store, is credited with naming the drink "Dr Pepper" after a friend of his, Dr. Charles Pepper. Later in the 1950s, the period was removed from the "Dr Pepper" name.

As demand grew Alderton and Morrison had trouble manufacturing enough "Dr Pepper" for their customers. Then in stepped, Robert S. Lazenby, Lazenby owned The Circle "A" Ginger Ale Company in Waco and was impressed with "Dr Pepper". Alderton did not want to pursue the business and manufacturing end of soft drinks and agreed that Morrison and Lazenby should take over and become  partners.

The Dr Pepper Company

The U.S. Patent Office recognizes December 1, 1885, as the first time Dr Pepper was served.

In 1891, Morrison and Lazenby formed the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which later became the Dr Pepper Company.

In 1904, the company introduced Dr Pepper to 20 million people attending the 1904 World's Fair Exposition in St.

Louis. That same world's fair introduced hamburger and hot dog buns and ice cream cones to the public.

The Dr Pepper Company is the oldest major manufacturer of soft drink concentrates and syrups in the United States. 

Dr Pepper is now also sold in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico and South America as well as New Zealand and South Africa as an imported good.

 Varieties include a version without high fructose corn syrup, Diet Dr Pepper, as well as a line of additional flavors, first introduced in the 2000s.

The Name Dr Pepper

There are many theories abound about the origins of the name Dr Pepper. Some say the "pep" refers to pepsin , an enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller peptides. It is produced in the stomach and is one of the main digestive enzymes in the digestive systems of humans and many other animals, where it helps digest the proteins in food.

Like many early sodas, the drink was marketed as a brain tonic and energizing pick-me-up, so another theory holds that it was named for the pep it supposedly gave to those who would drink it.

Others believe the drink was named after a real Dr. Pepper.

The period after "Dr" was left off for stylistic and legibility reasons in the 1950s. Dr Pepper's logo was redesigned and the text in this new logo was slanted. The period made "Dr." look like "Di:"