Why Southerners Love Texas’ Original Dr Pepper Just As Much As Coca-Cola
Made with love—and pure cane sugar.
Fizzy. Sweet. Cherryish. A little bit spicy. It’s hard to describe the unique tastebud journey that is a sip of Dr Pepper. And while Southerners love to claim Coca-Cola as the designated soft drink of the South—so much so that we often call any soda a “Coke”—it turns out that Dr Pepper is just as rooted in our history and tradition as its less enigmatic counterpart.
Made with 23 different flavors (of which many remain a mystery to us), Dr Pepper was founded in Waco, Texas, over 130 years ago by a pharmacist to serve in his drugstore, officially making it the nation’s oldest major soft drink. The icon product of Dublin Bottling Works in Dublin, Texas, it was called Dublin Dr Pepper as a way to differentiate between the Texas-based recipe made with pure cane sugar and the later version made with corn syrup (known today as plain Dr Pepper).
Slowly, surely, and very much on the sly, Dr Pepper of both persuasions stole the Coke-drinking hearts of many Southerners everywhere—and all other regioners, for that matter—with its signature spiced cherry cola-esque flavor that’s practically made to wash down salty peanuts or a sweet pecan log.
And while the old-fashioned sugar-packed Dublin Dr Pepper might have officially retired itself (though you can still sometimes find it on Amazon), the modern-day recipe continues to capture that iconic zing. Sure, it might get less of the limelight than classic Coca-Cola, but it’s quite the dark horse favorite of many Southerners—even if they don’t admit it in Coke-loving circles. In fact, many Texans still prefer it to Coke. Don’t tell Mama.
Like a guilty pleasure, Dr Pepper gives us something we didn’t know we wanted. No ego, but a uniqueness that keeps us coming back for more. Even if it’s only to make a classic Dr Pepper-infused Texas Sheet Cake.
WATCH: Dr Pepper Texas Sheet Cake Recipe
So if you’re asking us to pick a side between Coke and Dr Pepper, we’re pleading the fifth.