If you have ever seen a Dr Pepper advertisement or logo from 1927 to the 1970s then you likely have seen a clock dial with the numbers 10-2&4. If not, I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to look directly beside this paragraph and around this blog for examples.
See them? Great! But do you know what they are all about? I’ve had tour groups suggest that maybe these numbers represent the address of a store or the times it was open. Others have said that maybe it was the time Dr Pepper was delivered. This guess is closer to the correct answer which is that 10am, 2pm, and 4pm are the ideal times to drink a Dr Pepper. The next question becomes “Why this set of numbers?”
Certainly, our 10-2&4 numbers have a set significance and are not random numbers picked just to sound good. If that were the case my vote would have been for 2, 4, and 8, but math is not everyone’s cup of tea (or dare I say Dr Pepper) and would not appreciate powers of 2 the way I do. No, the true answer lies back in the 1920s and would be cemented in the early 1940s during World War II.
For many years J.B. O’Hara, chairman of the board of the Dr Pepper Company, believed that Dr Pepper and all soft drinks containing sugar provided an essential energy boost that was needed to help a person get through the day. Essentially, O'Hara argued that Dr Pepper was food in a liquid form and that this snack should be part of everyone’s daily diet.
Due to this belief, Dr. Walter H. Eddy, a professor of Physiological Chemistry at Columbia University in New York, performed a study showing that a person had a drop in energy and blood sugar levels at 10:30, 2:30, and 4:30. This newly found information was taken to the advertising agency Tracy-Locke-Dawson, Inc. of Dallas with the task of coming up with a new slogan for Dr Pepper. The company held an internal contest offering a $25 bonus to whoever came up with an acceptable slogan. Earl Racey made the phrase “Drink a Bite to Eat at 10-2&4 O’Clock” winning the $25 and creating Dr Pepper’s most successful slogan.
The 10-2&4 slogan helped sell a lot of Dr Pepper but may have seen its greatest benefit during World War II.
The 10-2&4 slogan would stay on Dr Pepper bottles and aluminum cans until the 1970s when Dr Pepper changed to an oval logo and launched their next big advertising campaign with “Be a Pepper.” The 10-2&4 slogan continues to live on in many of the old advertisements, Imperial Pure Cane Sugar Dr Pepper cans, and the 10-2&4 Dr Pepper Collector’s Club that meets every March here at the Museum. It will forever be remembered for spreading Dr Pepper to new households and helping to keep the soft drink industry afloat during the Second World War.
So next time you are feeling tired and less energetic than normal, remember to check the clock and see if you had your Dr Pepper at 10-2&4.
About the Dr Pepper Museum
The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, the last ticket sold at 4:15. For more information, visit us on the web at drpeppermuseum.com. To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.