As American culture becomes more homogenized and corporatized, one Texas town hoped its beloved Dublin Dr. Pepper wouldn’t become a casualty of the changing food landscape in the US.
Regional soft drinks are, indeed, often falling prey to changing market conditions like the saturation of chain restaurants in small American towns and cities, but Dublin Dr. Pepper was unique in both it’s super-strong regional following as well as cult cachet among people outside its distribution area. One notable reason is that unlike the fast majority of commercially-available sodas in the United States, Dublin Dr. Pepper was sweetened with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, or HCFS. (Dublin Dr. Pepper was also sweeter than regular Dr. Pepper, but not the sickly kind of sweet found in mass-market beverages that use the cheaper sweetener.)
Naturally, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, owner of regular Dr. Pepper, was displeased with the drink’s growing fanbase and accused the company of “trademark dilution.” Eventually a settlement was reached, and after 120 years of production, Dublin Dr. Pepper was discontinued on January 12th of this year. While locals are understandably displeased, they have another set of concerns- mainly surrounding commerce relating to Dublin Dr. Pepper.
Pantograph.com quotes a business owner in Dublin who’s sworn off Dr. Pepper beverages and even gave away her remaining stock free. She says that the decision will hurt businesses in Dublin that benefit from Dublin Dr. Pepper related tourism:
“I’m very concerned about my business in this economy, and now with this. What’s going to draw them to Dublin?” said Three Sisters gift shop owner Lisa Leatherwood, who gave away all her store’s Dr Pepper drinks on an outside table Thursday under a sign that read: “We no longer drink Dr Pepper products! Help yourself!”
Others liken the brand’s demise to the death in the family:
“You see somebody cutting your name out of something like it never happened, and that’s just gut-wrenching,” said Pat Leatherwood, vice president of First National Bank of Dublin. “You walk in stores all over town, and some people are mad. Some are upset. It’s like someone has died.”
An estimated 95,000 visitors flocked to the museum, soda shop and annual birthday celebration of the beverage. One bright spot for fans is that the company plans to regroup as Dublin Bottling Works, introducing a line of sugar-sweetened, HFCS-free beverages for soda purists. Did you get a chance to sample Dublin Dr. Pepper during its 120-year run?