Understanding Dr Pepper

"Once I get Dr Pepper down their throats, and tell them about it, I'm in business."

IN SPITE OF THE NEW expansion, it may be that Dr. Pepper still looks better coming from a 7-11 cooler than it does from behind a New York bar. When served at a recent private screening of a new film given by critic and gadabout Rex Reed, it was hardly a success. Author Jaquelyn Susann, cajoled into taking a drink, made a face nearly as sour as her prose and said, “Yetch.” The rest of Reed’s guests, among them actresses Lotte Lenya and Arlene Dahl, actor Joe Dallasandro, and directors Frank Perry and Paul Morrissey, all concurred. They took one polite sip and then set their glasses, soggy cocktail napkins still intact, on window ledges, on empty chairs, atop urinals in the men’s room, or simply shoved them right back into the hand of the bartender who, as the evening wore on, dealt with his fate by calmly handing the glass to the next person who came along. —G.C.

A spoonful of Dr. Pepper will not relieve constipation, hives, excessive acidity, morbidity, sterility, bile, eczema, hysteria, bronchitis or what ails you in general. “Folks still splash it on. And some rub it on. But the only claim we make is that Dr. Pepper is soothing to youngsters suffering post-tonsillectomies. Teenagers have also discovered that they can drink a lot of it without getting pimples.”

That was W.W. Clements, the balding, genial, Dr. Pepper-swigging president of the company making the second-oldest soft drink in the nation, and he’s telling us what we wished we’d known through all those Coke-addicted, acne-plagued years of adolescence. While we were religiously “taking” Dr. Pepper at 10, 2, and 4, we were also drinking Coke the rest of the time, defeating the only therapeutic purpose all of us who still have our tonsils could have gleaned from it.

Perhaps the mythical healing quality of Dr. Pepper which will be hardest to see go by the wayside is as a sure-fire cure for constipation. Many were the days that we avoided drinking prune juice and other more hideous remedies by assuring our parents that we had “taken” our Dr. Pepper, which they, and we, were convinced came from mashed and otherwise transformed prunes, with purgative quality still intact. This remedy Mr. Clements firmly denies.

But if old legends die hard, Dr. Pepper seems to be making a strong effort to leave them back in the Southern territory that has been its stronghold for generations. The drive to expand the market for Dr. Pepper into the rest of the country and on

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