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    

Rare Vntg Original 1939 Dr Pepper Advertising Thermometer SignVintage 1950's Dr Pepper Soda Pop Gas Station 17" Metal Thermometer Sign~worksRare Vintage 1930's Dr Pepper Advertising Thermometer SignVintage 1948 Drink Dr Pepper Soda Pop Gas Station 24" Porcelain Metal SignVery Rare Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Co Waco Texas Dr. Pepper Roorbach Closure3 Day Auction !!! Dr. Pepper Electric Lite Clock Not Pam ! Vintage 1950's Dr Pepper Soda Pop Gas Station 24" Porcelain Metal SignOld Vintage Dr Pepper 10 2 4 Thermometer Bottle Cap Advertising Sign Soda PopKing Of Beverages Dr Pepper Bottle Waco Texas Rare But Damaged 1927 VariationMuskogee Mcalester Oklahoma Ok Emb Love Soda Bottle Dr Pepper Picture Heart 1936Vintage Estate Collection Can Bank Diet Dr. Pepper Sugar Free Serve Hot Vintage/original Dr Pepper Light Up Clock W/10/2/4 Bottle Cap~very Nice~lqqk~wowEagle Lake Texas Dr Pepper Embossed Soda Bottle 2 Way 3 Rivers Tx Glass 1920sDr.pepper Diecut 8.5"x4.5" Porcelain Palm Press Door Push Sign No Reserve ❤️Original 1960s Dr Pepper Advertising Sign New Old Stock 9++++++Vintage/original Dr Pepper Porcelain Sign "good For Life"~~very Nice~~wow~~lqqk!Dr Pepper 26 Ounce Acl Soda Bottle 1956 Slant Letter 10-2-4 Red & White LabelWichita Kansas Ks Dr Pepper Art Deco Soda Flavor Bottle 1930s VintageYorktown Texas Dr Pepper Bottle Raised Letter Not Debossed 3 Rivers Glass NrmintYoakum Texas Tx Embossed Raised Letter Dr Pepper Bottle W Clock 3 Rivers GlassGonzales Texas Tx Dr Pepper Raised Letter Embossed Soda Bottle 3 Rivers GlassDr Pepper 1967 Diamond Ndnr 10oz Painted Throw Away BottlePalestine Texas Tx Emb Raised Letter Dr Pepper Bottle 10-2-4 Good For Life 1929New Braunfels Texas Emb Raised Letter Dr Pepper Bottle 3 Rivers Glass Real CleanVintage Dr. Pepper 10 2 4 Seltzer Bottle, "good For Life"Vintage Dr. Pepper Metal Thermometer Works Vintage 1940's Dr. Pepper Bottle Topper Virginia Kavanagh1925 Starr X Vintage Script Dr. Pepper Good For Life Bottle OpenerPorcelain Sign Dr Pepper 8x3 Inches Die Cut ApproxVintage 1960s Neon Products Inc. Large Dr. Pepper Clock Dallas Texas Raised Letter Dr Pepper Bottle 10-2-4 Good For Life 3 Rivers 1920sRare Vintage Dr. Pepper Advertising Soda Gold Tone Metal Cuff Links CufflinksTemple Texas Raised Letter Dr Pepper Embossed Bottle Good For Life 3 Rivers GlasDr Pepper Tin Thermometer Advertising Sign Diet Dr Pepper Great ConditionVintage Dr. Pepper Soda Advertising Sign 1950's Antique Very Good Cond.Dr Pepper ThermometerTexaco Gasoline Filling Station Screen Door Push Bar Garage Office Mancave SignsTemple Texas Art Deco Embossed Dr Pepper Soda Flavor Bottle 1930s Vintage TxCollectible Dr Pepper Pocket Protector - NosEagle Lake Texas Tx Raised Letter Dr Pepper Bottle Good For Life 3 Rivers 1920s1940's Madalon Mason Dr. Pepper Bottle Topper Mint ConditionVintage Dr. Pepper Embossed Die-cut Tin Thermometer Sign "good For Life!"Vintage Dr Pepper Soda Advertising Chalk Board Menu Sign Large 31" X 21"Dr Pepper Granade Bottle 6 Oz Green ColorLot Of 32 Vintage Coke Dr. Pepper Rc Pepsi Cola 7up Cork Lined Bottle CapsCircle A Brand Embossed Crown Top Soda Water Bottle Dr Pepper ProductDr Pepper 12 Inch Plastic Ruler From The 1960's With Chevron LogoDr Pepper Reproduction Bottle SignVintage Dollhouse Food - Coca Cola Dr. Pepper - Huge Lot!Dr Pepper 12 Oz Acl Soda Bottle 1959 Slant Letter Rare Size W Diamonds 10-2-4Dr Pepper 6.5 Oz Slant Letter Acl Bottle Dated 1957 Near Mint Painted Label 1024Dr. Pepper-ice Cold Dr. Pepper Here-t-shirt--x-largeNeat Collectible Sealed Dr. Pepper 125 Years Plastic Bottle Opener!Classic Dr. Pepper Drive-in Intermission Ad, Circa 1960, 35mm PdDr. Pepper Nice Sweat Jacket Men's MOriginal Dr Pepper 1944 Bottle Joplin MoLot Of Three Dr Pepper Bottles Very Nice All Years Including Good For LifeMancave Phone Rates Tool Box Magnet Snap On To Tool Box Garage Wall Art Dr Pepper Cloth Patches Five (5) See Photo'sRare Vintage Dr Pepper Bottle From Bradenton, Fl, 10-2-4, Super Hard To Find!