The Evolution Of Dr Pepper's Famous Slogans

Is Dr Pepper a real doctor? Well, he may have been, according to the brand's website. It claims that Wade Morrison, owner of the drug store where the drink was invented, named the beverage after Dr. Charles Pepper, the father of a young lady Morrison was in love with. However, the Texas State Historical Association says there are in fact several stories that attempt to explain how the soda was given its moniker, yet none of them have been substantiated. Thought Co. notes that Charles Alderton, the inventor of the soda, might have worked for Pepper and named it after his former employer, or that the "pep" in "pepper" is a nod to the stomach's digestive pepsin enzyme, or even that the "pep" part simply refers to pepping people up. The truth is unknown, so this remains one of the most fascinating aspects of Dr Pepper's commercial identity.

The drink originated in Waco, Texas circa 1885, where its unique flavors brought it local attention. Then, in 1904, its appearance at the St. Louis World's Fair catapulted it into nationwide popularity. Over a century after its creation, the soda is presently enjoyed globally, and per the Amarillo Globe-News, Dr Pepper holds the honor of being among the United State's oldest continuously bottled soft drinks. There's even a museum in Waco memorializing the beverage and its varieties. Along this path to glory, Dr Pepper has undergone many changes in how it presents itself.

Early advertisements

Over 100 years old, Dr Pepper has seen myriad slogans come and go. The earliest (unofficial) catchphrase associated with the soft drink was "shoot me a Waco," per Thought Co. That's how customers ordered the soda around its hometown before it got its official name. After the 1904 world's fair, Dr Pepper's newfound success led to it being called the "King of Beverages," as documented by the Amarillo Globe-News. Around that same time, it was also referred to as "liquid sunlight," which filled drinkers with "vim, vigor, and vitality," explains the Dallas Morning News.

During the 1920s, research at Columbia University determined people's blood sugar tended to fall around 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., making them feel lethargic, per the Texas State Historical Association. Because of this, Dr Pepper marketed its sugary self as a healthy pick-me-up. "Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4" became the latest, greatest slogan. Around this same time, the Dr Pepper Museum states "Old Doc" — a country doctor donning a top hat and monocle — served as the drink's mascot.

This wellness trend continued during the Great Depression when Dr Pepper was deemed "safe for children from 3 to 90 years." During WWII, Dr Pepper justified its sweet existence despite sugar rationing by dubbing itself "The Liquid Bite," able to energize soldiers and wartime laborers. Declaring that soda is good for you may seem outlandish by today's standards, but at the time, the assertion worked wonders.

Modern marketing

The mid-1900s were an important period for Dr Pepper. That's when "Dr. Pepper" dropped its period and simply became "Dr Pepper." During that '50s era, the slogan also once again changed — per the Dr Pepper Museum — this time to "the friendly Pepper-Upper," which then led to the drink gaining a rockin'-n-rollin' reputation in the '60s. There was even a time when Dr Pepper was boldly marketed as a hot beverage.

That shift away from healthiness in particular towards something more generally appealing would continue as time went on. Dr Pepper eventually reinvented itself as "the most misunderstood soft drink," followed in the '70s by the title of "the most original soft drink ever in the whole wide world." The beverage really wanted to set itself apart from other sodas, it seems — thus the "Be a Pepper" and "Be You" marketing campaigns. According to the Dallas Morning News, being a pepper meant being part of the in-crowd. As competition increased in the '80s, Dr Pepper doubled down on this individuality, using "out-of-the-ordinary" as a fresh catchphrase. Recently, "There's just more to it" emphasized the 23 fruit flavors in Dr Pepper's recipe as its most important quality.

Ultimately, there are almost too many slogans to mention. Still, the evolution of Dr Pepper's slogans seems to have come full circle. What began as a unique combination of flavors went through a health craze and then returned to its roots: Dr Pepper is a drink unlike any other.