The last Dr. Pepper

Dublin Dr. PepperAs I sit here writing this, I’m drinking the very last of the Dublin Dr. Pepper I got for the wedding. Some people are fanatics about a cola; I love Dr. Pepper. I was a cola drinker as a child, apart from brief flings with regional specialties like Cheerwine, until we went on a long summer vacation without soda. By the time I got back, my tastebuds had changed. Cola was no longer sweet ambrosia but a caustic acid. Dr. Pepper, however, remained tasty.

I now drink about one can per day, although I used to drink more. At one point, I drank at least on bottle (which is 50-75% more than a can) a day. Of course, I also used to play soccer 20 hours a week, so the extra calories were useful (as Warren Buffet says about Coke, if I hadn’t been drinking so much soda, I’d have wasted away).

Dr. Pepper and I haven’t always had a smooth relationship. When I started to seriously examine my lifestyle, I began to worry about the caffeine consumption. I do occasionally get migraines and caffeine (or caffeine withdrawal) can be a trigger for some people. I read horror stories and decided that I needed to cut down while I could do it slowly rather than wait until I had to quit cold turkey sometime.

And then I looked up some actual numbers and found that an 8 oz cup of coffee has around twice as much caffeine as one can of Dr. Pepper. The horror stories I’d read had been about people who were consuming ten times (or more) as much caffeine as I was! Instead of using my carefully designed course of gradual reduction, I immediately dropped down to no more than a 20 oz bottle a day (which I usually got by walking to the grocery store and back).

Later, I decided that 20 oz was usually more than I wanted to drink and switched to 12 oz cans. This was also quite a bit more frugal, since instead of paying a dollar per soda, I could get my cans in bulk and pay about a quarter.

Unfortunately, Dr. Pepper has another problematic ingredient besides caffeine: high fructose corn syrup. I’ve become much more concerned with high fructose corn syrup than caffeine. I don’t eat much that has caffeine in it, but everything seems to have high fructose corn syrup.

I assumed that I’d have to just have to live with it (or give up Dr. Pepper) until I ran across Dublin Dr. Pepper. The bottling plant in Dublin, Texas is the oldest one around. Back in the 70s and 80s when all the other plants switched to high fructose corn syrup, the Dublin plant stuck with the original cane sugar recipe.

It’s quite a bit more expensive than regular Dr. Pepper, although primarily because of the shipping costs. When we were ordering drinks for the wedding, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Although they sell normal-looking cans, I went whole hog and ordered the classic 8 oz class bottles.

A week later, I had my corn-free Dr. Pepper. Maggie says that she can’t tell the difference, but I find that it has a stronger, fuller flavor. There’s also something appealing about drinking from the small glass bottles. I have childhood memories of getting soda in glass bottles from a vending machine, but it was rare that you could find one that didn’t just dispense cans.

It was a worthwhile experiment. I’ve proven to myself that high fructose corn syrup isn’t the reason that I like Dr. Pepper. We also got some great bottles that we can reuse with our own soda. I probably won’t re-order, though. I’d like to say that this was actually my last Dr. Pepper, but like most Americans (and probably most people), I’ll take the short-term pleasure and cost savings over the long-term quality.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Andy said,

    December 1, 2008 @ 12:07 am

    I’m diabetic, so soda is part of my life, but I really do hate it. When I was trying to avoid corn products other than real corn on the cob, I switched to Jones soda, which I think uses cane sugar instead. Unfortunately the only place I could find it was in Walmart, which was also the only place that was selling decent glucose tablets (the drugstores there all sold these really bad chalky ones so I needed a change.) If you can find Jones sodas, they are really tasty and aren’t corn in a can. IIRC, I think they have a LOT of sugar – around 40g or so. mmmmmmmm

  2. 2

    Linnea said,

    December 1, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

    There are quite a few cane sugar sodas available in Seattle (I usually get Bubble Up), so I’ve got plenty of options. We’ve also experimented with making our own soda out of the lingonberry concentrate (sold at Ikea, natch), but I’ll admit I like it better in a martini.

  3. 3

    Lauren said,

    December 1, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

    Some Mexican restaurants source Mexican Coke, with cane sugar, and it is delicious. No HFCS, but plenty of miles, sadly.

  4. 4

    Will said,

    December 3, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

    Andy – The local Kroger sells Jones soda, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. I mostly know them as the ones with the crazy holiday soda (turkey-flavored soda!?).

    Linnea – remember Blue Sky? They had no caffeine and used cane sugar, but they were a bit expensive so I didn’t drink them as often as I have Dr. Pepper. Unfortunately, they were recently bought out by Hanson’s and phased off the shelves at the grocery store. Hanson’s does have some cane sugar-sweetened sodas, but I don’t like them very much.

    Lauren – Apparently, the Dublin Dr. Pepper plant has an agreement with Dr. Pepper that they won’t sell their product to wholesalers outside of their distribution range (portions of Texas). That means no Dublin Dr. Pepper on tap for those of us outside of Texas. It would be nice if more restaurants offered fancy soda (no caffeine, no HFCS) as well as the regular options. Some of them do have nicer root beers, which are often a good replacement for Coke or Dr. Pepper (since most don’t have caffeine and sometimes avoid HFCS).

  5. 5

    Linnea said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 4:15 am

    Blue Sky isn’t made with cane sugar anymore. We still get it every once in a while (it’s pretty easy to get here, at the Metro or at Whole Foods). I prefer the glass bottles, tho, they make nice vases and brush holders.

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