Old Doc's Soda Shop was opened in 1994, but from the signs to the old school soda fountains, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking it has been around for much longer. The old-school fountain shop with cold sandwiches, soda made with real cane sugar, and milkshakes was an idea that came out of the 100th celebration of Dr Pepper in Dublin, Texas. And while the soda shop was designed as the start and endpoints of a tour of the world's oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant, it's a great place for a sandwich and a Dr Pepper made with Imperial Cane Sugar that would rival any Mexican Coke.
The Dr Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, Texas.
The bottling plant is about 100 miles southwest of Forth Worth, Texas, in a town that for 51 weeks of the year is called Dublin. That one other week a year, by proclamation of the Dublin City Council, the town takes on the honorary name of the soda, becoming Dr Pepper, Texas.
Old Doc's Soda Shop (said to be named for an early Dr Pepper advertising icon) is a cozy store open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's filled with several small tables surrounded by Dr Pepper paraphernalia and soda bottles. With its bottlecap-chokers, bags of Dr Pepper cake mix, Dr Pepper marinated beef jerky, and various Dr Pepper T-shirts, Old Doc's is as much marketing vehicle as soda shop. But there's nothing phony about the busy, near six-foot long soda fountain fountain — it pours the real thing — the best Dr Pepper you've ever had. The fact that it's made with cane sugar gives it that sweet, sweet taste, the one that reminds you how good soda used to be before corn syrup.
Soda isn't the only thing on the offer. There are sandwiches. Not fancy ones mind you, but ones made on white, wheat, and jalapeño cheese rolls with good old-fashioned American ingredients — deli meats and cheeses that your grandmother might have assembled for you as an after-school snack when you were a kid — roast beef, smoky turkey, and honey ham. Other classics, like chicken salad and peanut butter and jelly are on the menu too.
Combination is key, both meat and topping wise. The moist, airy jalapeño cheese roll topped with honey ham, pepperjack, bright green lettuce, fresh juicy red tomato, pickles, jalapeño, onion, mayo, mustard, and horseradish make for a satisfying example. Salty, tangy, spicy with a little bit of zip. Though you might be surprised to know that's not even the equivalent of the shop's Dagwood. Other options include pimento cheese, Swiss, American, and layers of different meats.
Though ordering a fountain Dr Pepper is the way to go, the milkshake flavored with the fountain soda shouldn't be missed either. The Frosty Pepper is creamier than the more conventionally-known fast food Frosty at Wendy's, but marbled with sweet Dr Pepper flavor.
By the time you're finished, the next tour of the plant will likely be about to start (they run every 45 minutes). Along with a "free" Dr Pepper (tickets are $2.50 each) you're given to enjoy as you examine the bottling machine, you'll leave having learned the brands logos and marketing icons.
You'll also have gleaned some important Dr Pepper facts:
• How did Dr Pepper get its name? Wade Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco had an employee, a pharmacist named Charles Alderton who supposedly invented a drink to taste like the many fruit, spice, and berry smells that filled the store. The drink became popular and patrons would order it by calling out, "Shoot me a Waco!" Morrison named the drink after the father of a girl he was in love with, though according to the tourguide, this did nothing to further his advances with the girl.
• How did Dr Pepper lose its period? According to the guide, the period was discarded in the 1950s when the r became stylized to resemble an i with the dot flying off to the right. Keeping the period would have made it look like the 'D' was followed by a colon.
• How should Dr Pepper be drank during winter? Hot with a slice of lemon. That's how it's served at Doc's during the winter. It's the invention of the company's onetime president.