In the world of soft-drink collectibles, Dr Pepper is a pip-squeak compared to Coca-Cola, the 800-pound gorilla of carbonated sugar water, whose international ubiquity eclipses all other competitors combined. But Coke did not reach the top of the cola heap by being first. That honor goes to Dr Pepper, which was served in December of 1885 at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. In contrast, the first glass of Coca-Cola was poured at a pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, in May of 1886.

Dr Pepper, whose name has officially lacked punctuation since 1950, was invented by a pharmacist working at Morrison’s named Charles Alderton. When he wasn’t filling prescriptions for customers, he mixed and matched various fountain syrups until his 23-flavor concoction achieved that distinctive but difficult-to-describe fruitiness we recognize today as Dr Pepper.

The first Dr Pepper logo, used through the mid-1890s, touted a beverage called Dr. Pepper’s Phos-Ferrates and seemed to reveal two of the drink’s ingredients, wheat and iron. When the drink was introduced to attendees at the 1904 World's Fair Exposition in St. Louis, Dr. Pepper bottle labels proclaimed the drink to be the “King of Beverages,” but by the 1920s, the tagline had changed to “Good for Life.”

In fact, the 1920s were a pivotal decade for the beverage. For example, in 1923 the company moved its headquarters from Waco to Dallas, a signal that it was ready to play in the big soda leagues. That same year, a new advertising campaign was also introduced. On everything from print ads to porcelain, tin, and cardboard signs, a character named “Old Doc,” a kindly looking, old-timey country doctor who wore a monocle and a top hat, was paired with a new “10, 2, and 4” graphic, which resembled a clock with three hands pointing to the corresponding numbers. These were the hours of the day when Old Doc prescribed the beverage for an energy lift. In fact, the beverage was promised to be as sustaining as food, as slogans like “Drink a bite to eat” and “When Hungry, Thirsty or Tired” show.

By the 1940s, the word “lift” was tossed around freely in Dr Pepper ads, which relied increasingly on pretty girls to sell the soft drink. In one ad, a young blonde at a football game smiles at the offer of a bottle of Dr Pepper below the words “Quick Lift For Active People.” A pigtailed redhead in a flannel shirt and rolled up jeans takes a break from fishing near the legend “Smart Lift.” And in the 1950s, cardboard signs in wooden frames crowned by the 10, 2, 4 logo depicted square dancers and cheerleaders alongside a 10, 2, 4 Dr Pepper bottle cap and the slogan “A Lift For Life!”

During the 1950s, Dr Pepper was also advertised as “The Friendly Pepper-Upper” on everything from fountain dispensers to Dr Pepper branded menu boards. But the most recognized Dr Pepper slogan with the word “Pepper” in it is undoubtedly “Be a Pepper,” which was conceived in 1977. Less well known is the decades-long campaign to promote the soft drink as something that could be enjoyed in any sort of weather, be it hot or cold. Accordingly, Dr Pepper advertising thermometers bore sentiments like “Hot or Cold, Enjoy Dr Pepper” or “Hot or Cold, Drink Dr Pepper,” and the company even made electric heating units labeled “Dr Pepper Hot,” which were designed to heat up a mug of the sweet beverage on a cold winter’s day.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Dr. Pepper Commercial Pam Illuminated Clock Works! Soda,sign!Vintage/original Nos Dr.pepper Mirror Door Push. Very Rare!Dr Pepper Frosty Cold Thermometer Bottle Cap Vintage 1950's Metal 430 16 1/4"Vintage 1960's Pam Distinctly Different Dr. Pepper Electric Diner ClockVintage Dr. Pepper Good For Life Soda Small Ball Of String Holder Bottler PromoVintage 1950's Dr. Pepper Bottle Top Bottle Pyro Painted Bottle Cap 2pcsDrink Dr. Pepper Sign Porcelain 40's Or 50's. Original Great Vintage Soda Sign. 135 Vintage Dr Pepper Pencils " Enjoy The Dr Pepper Difference"Antique Dr. Pepper Devil Watch FobOriginal 1964 Dr. Pepper 10-2-4 Frosty Pepper Sign Vintage Dr Pepper Embossed Tin Menu Board SignKevin Grubb Dr. Pepper/carroll Racing Race Worn Drivers Uniform/firesuit1968 Pair Of Cold Dr Pepper Decals Sign Soda Pop Machine Window DisplayIndian Chief Motorcycle Indian War Headdress Classic Thunder Roadmaster Vintage Chrysler Adv. General Store - Drink Dr Pepper / Rack Sign 6 PackDr Pepper Zippo Rule Tape Measure Vintage 1970's Brushed Metal New In Box Nos Ad Dr. Pepper Fountin DespencerRare Vintage Dr Pepper 10 2 4 Advertising Lighter Wellington Jr Raised Letter Dr. Pepper Bottle - Evansville, Ind20 Different Dr Pepper Soda Bottle Caps*xrare* Alex Bowman #23 Dr Pepper Signed Rookie 2014 Nascar Lionel 1:24 DiecastVintage Dr Pepper 6 PackVtg Vendorlator Model Vf165 Squirt Dr Pepper Vending Machine Man Cave Soda Coke 2ea Dr. Pepper Come And Get It & Take Home A Carton Tin Signs -1993-Santa Fe Trail 12oz Gr-w Acl Soda Pop Bottle Dr. Pepper Bottling Denver Wagon Dr Pepper Soda Pop Glass Marbles 5/8 Size Collection Lot + StandsOld Navy Collectabilitees Purple Short Sleeve Dr. Pepper Tee Size XxlSavvy Trust Me I'm A Dr. Pepper Red Extra Large Xl Mens Short Sleeve Tee ShirtFly Fishing Ice Bait & Tackle Bobber Shaped 2 Sided Hooks Rod & Reel Cabin DecorCustom Motorcycle Art Harley Davidson Rolling Wheels Moveable Handlebar Indian But Officer It Instructed Me To Burn Out Dodge Challenger Charger Hellcat Hemi 2015 Autographed #23 Jj Yeley "dr Pepper " Nascar Postcard1960s Dr Pepper License Plate Sign EmbossedVintage 1980s King Louie Pro Fit Dr. Pepper Satin Bomber Jacket W/patch XlVintage African American Woman 7 Up Dr Pepper Old Photo Black Americana Hs65Vintage Dr. Pepper Bottle**dr. Pepper Advertising Pocket Watch Keychain Fob**Vintage Dr. Pepper T Shirt 1970s Wind Surfer Great Graphics Euc#23 Bk Racing Dr Pepper David Ragan Sheetmetal Team Issue Polo Shirt Xl Dri Fit #23 Bk Racing Dr Pepper David Ragan Sheetmetal Team Issue T Shirt 2xl Dri Fit Country Store Gas Station 1936 Chevy Truck Nesbitt Dr Pepper Soda Pop Sign PhotoGot Tools Better Not Be Mine Harley Davidson Craftsman Tool Box Indian ClassicKevin Grubb Dr. Pepper/carroll Racing Race Used Pit Crew Shirt - XxlVintage Dr Pepper Bottle Wichita Falls Texas 6 1/2 OzsDr Pepper Playing CardsOld Dr. Pepper Good For Life 10 2 4 Soda Bottle, Colorado Springs 6 1/2 Oz