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]

Plan 59

Plan 59

From the Nostlagia Factory in Virginia comes this celebration of 'mid-century automotive advertising illustrations'… [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]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage C.1940 Dr Pepper Soda Pop 6 Bottle Carton 27" Embossed Metal SignVintage Dr Pepper Bottle Cap Thermometer Plastic 10-2-4 RareNice Vintage Dr. Pepper Bottle Cap Thermometer - Working - Tommy Tucker PlasticsGreenville South Carolina Acl Dr. Pepper Bottle, Bottle Cap StyleOld Dr Pepper Thermometer Sign 28 By 8 In Vintage 1940 Dr Pepper Soda Pop Bottle 30" Embossed Metal SignDr. Pepper Soda Hot And Cold Thermometer - Vintage - 1960's 70's1950 Vess Soda Pop Advertising Thermometer Sign No Gas Oil Cola Dr Pepper FarmDr. Pepper Scalloped Pin Tray Watermelon Boy Black American Early 1900's Dr Pepper Soda Perky Baby Sales Award Advertising Character Rare Kansan 12 Oz Acl Soda Bottle Nm Manhattan, Kansas Dr Pepper Bttl WksVintage 1945 Original Brown & Bigelow Dr Pepper Calendar World War Ii Era #408Amethyst Dr Pepper Bottle King Of Beverages Waco, TexasTwo Dr.pepper Soda Pop Cans.one Cone Top And One Flat Top.prezipcode.1930's Dr Pepper Celluloid Sign1930 Dr Pepper ThermometerVintage Miniature Dr Pepper Bottles Mini Soda 7up UnopenedFrostie Root Beer Acl Bottle - 1948 Old Frostie Ver. - Dr Pepper Botco - Indiana7 Dr. Pepper Central Park Nyc Concert Ticket Stubs 78,79,80,81 Ramones Blondie Dr Pepper Soda Fountain Striped Flange Sign Modern RetroVintage Dr Pepper Picnic Cooler Rare!!!Vintage Dr Pepper Bottling Company Seattle Washington Drink CrateVintage C.1940 Dr Pepper Soda Pop 16" Metal Clock Sign~nice Condition & WorksLionel 8960 Southern Pacific U36c Engine Dr. Pepper Vat 9107 Aquarium 16750 CarVintage Dr. Pepper Advertisement Electric Wall ClockDr. Pepper Vintage 3" Tall Fountain Tapper Knob 2 Different Logo's Metal PlasticStp Engine Products 3d Metal Sign Super Bird Plymouth Petty Dodge Mopar ChryslerLionel 6-9107 Dr. Pepper Vat Car1950's Original Drink Dr. Pepper 10-2-4 Porcelain Sign **speccast Die-cast Dr. Pepper International 8600 #34505 Truck ReplicaAc Delco Rocket Spark Plug Vintage Look 3d Metal Sign Chevy Ford Usa Nasa Moon Rare & Unique Dr. Pepper Soda Advertising Rhinestone Belt Buckle, Rodeo, Antique2014 Alex Bowman #23 Dr Pepper 1:24 Hoto Action Lionel Diecast 1 Of 432Warning I Get A Little Crazy When People Touch My Tools 3d Metal Sign Rat Fink Mind If I Smoke? Drag Race 3d Metal Sign Pontiac Gto Gasser 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 Dr Pepper Chevron Type Soda Fountain Syrup Paper Label 4 - 1 Gallon Jugs In BoxDr Pepper 1929 First Dry Server Rare Mint Condition No Drip Bottle ProtectorVintage 1930s Green Dr Pepper Bottle W Laundry Sprinkler For Iron & ClothespinsSoda Straw Holder Dispenser Dr Pepper Glass Vintage Style Dr Pepper Half Gallon Plastic Coated 64 Oz Glass Bottle Vintage Old Chevy Truck Parking Only All Others Will Be Scrapped 3d Metal Sign Chevrolet GmcLicensed Indian Chief Motorcycle 3d Metal Sign Harley Hog Bomber War HeaddressFord Truck Parking Only 3d Metal Sign Pick Up F150 Farm Warning 1953 1954 19556 Unused Dr Pepper 10/2/4 Cork Lined Soda Bottle Caps Very Good Condition(6)very Old Vintage (dr. Pepper) 10 - 2 - 4 Cork Lined Bottle Caps - Hibbing, MnDr Pepper Bottle Tacker Sign24 Vintage Soda Bottle Caps Cheer Up, Clicquot Club, Moxie, Dr Pepper, MissionDr Pepper "trust Me I'm A Dr." Red Distressed Retro T-shirt Size Medium Vintage Looking Mechanic On Duty 7 Days A Week 3d Metal Sign Chevy Ford Mopar Dr. Pepper Abc Acc Championship 2005 Inaugural Game 2005 Paperweight FootballVintage Mint Dr. Pepper Buddy L Semi TrailerDr. Who Tardis Vs Dalek Salt And Pepper SetOuthouse Plaque Sign.man Cave Garage Office Camp Bathroom Toilet Head*Dr. Pepper Bottle(10) Different Very Old "dr. Pepper" Soda/pop Cork Lined Bottle Caps-chisolm, MnGreenville Sc Dr Pepper Soda Bottle 10 2 4 Clear Good For Life 6 1/2 Oz.10 2 4 Dr Pepper Sign Metal Bottle Cap Sign Vintage Style Double Dot PepsiVintage Lot Of 30 Steel Pull Top Soda Pop Cams 7up, Dr Pepper,mark Iv,crush, EtcLip Smackers 6 Pack Dr. Pepper, A&w And 7-upOfficially Licensed Good Year Tires 3d Metal Sign Gasser Drag Strip Race Hemi Rt