We have a few objects in the museum that have been raising a lot of questions lately. All of these objects revolve around one idea – HOT Dr Pepper. That’s right, Dr Pepper that is served hot like tea. Many people wonder how this idea got started or if it even really was something that people drank. Often times, it is hard for us to get past our preconceived notions such as soda should be cool and refreshing, not something that is warm and comforting. As Dr Pepper has done many times throughout the years with their distinct taste, in the late 1950s they began challenging these preconceived notions people have about soft drinks by serving HOT Dr Pepper.
So, if people were used to soft drinks being served cold, how in the world did the HOT Dr Pepper fad get started? It all began in September of 1958 when Wesby R. Parker, President of Dr Pepper Company, had an idea to create a warm and comforting version of Dr Pepper. While visiting a bottling plant during a blizzard, one of the route salesmen joked that they needed a hot drink to sell during winter weather. This sparked an idea in Parker and he began to experiment in his kitchen. Through trial and error, he experimented until he found the perfect way to serve Dr Pepper warm. Dr Pepper simply needed to be heated to 180 degrees and poured over a thin slice of lemon to create this delicious and comforting concoction. Through his experiments he determined that overheating the drink scorched it and ruined the Dr Pepper flavor and that a slice of lemon was important because it gave the flavor of the rind.
After find the perfect formula for HOT Dr Pepper, Parker had to tell Dr Pepper Company employees of his discovery. Of course, his idea was received with hesitation. Who drinks hot soda? So many companies had marketed their drinks as cool and refreshing through the years that no one would think of turning a soda into something warm and comforting. Although there was some hesitation initially, after some taste tests at the Dr Pepper Company, employees soon realized they could quite possibly have a hit on their hands and an edge over other soda companies in the market. They began sampling the drink across the country and eventually, after taste tests proved favorable, they began marketing the drink. They marketed the drink under the taglines “Devilishly Different” and “Winter Warmer”, which paved the way for it to be used as an alcoholic mixer. Rum became the favorite choice to mix with HOT Dr Pepper and was known as the “Schuss-Boomer”. HOT Dr Pepper proved to be the ideal beverage for cold weather and fit in nicely during winter holiday celebrations.
By the reactions we receive to the HOT Dr Pepper items on display, you would think that it was just a passing fad. However, this is not the case. From the time HOT Dr Pepper was introduced in the late 1950s, it proved favorable with taste testing and was a popular holiday drink well into the 1970s. And even though the drink became more obscure over time, HOT Dr Pepper merchandise was sold well into the 1990s. There have even been references to the drink in popular culture such as when it was included in the 1999 movie “Blast from the Past”. Today, loyal Peppers will still occasionally serve HOT Dr Pepper at holiday functions. So, if you have been to the museum and have seen the HOT Dr Pepper items or have just read this blog and became curious about what HOT Dr Pepper tastes like, why don’t you give it a try! You can even get one served up in our Soda Fountain if you want an authentic experience!
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, 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.