When the company formerly known as Dublin Dr Pepper became Dublin Bottling Works on January 11, putting an end to its historic, signature soda, there was some consolation in the fact that the small family business would continue bottling another another beloved Texas soft drink using natural cane sugar.
“We’ve still got Big Red,” Dublin Bottling Works president Jeff Kloster told the Austin TV station KXAN while visiting with customers in late January.
As Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer first reported, Dublin Bottling Works has lost the right to bottle Big Red too.
According to Jane Pratt of the Abilene Reporter-News:
Bruce Vincent, public relations representative for the Dublin Bottling Works, said notice was received in mid-February that Dublin Bottling Works would no longer be allowed to carry Big Red. He said the equipment was picked up from the Dublin facility on Feb. 16 or 17.
As with Dublin Dr Pepper, it apparently happened both because the soda’s corporate mothership now makes its own version without corn syrup (Retro Big Red) and because the Dublin bottler was prohibited by its contract from distributing its small-batch product outside of a six-county region.
The Observer‘s Scott Reitz had written about the Dallas restaurant Maple and Motor scorning the big-name soft drinks for its soda fountain, instead choosing to carry Dublin’s product line, “beverages with names like Big Red, Vintage Cola, Cherry LimeAid and Triple XXX Root Beer,” Reitz wrote.
But according to Greg Janda of NBCDFW.com, Dublin never had the rights to sell Big Red in North Texas.
The bottler that does? Dr Pepper/Snapple, which also owns a minority share in Austin-based, privately-held Big Red.
Big Red CEO Gary Smith would not comment to Wilonsky, deferring to Dr Pepper/Snapple (which in turn suggested that Wilonsky talk to Smith). Kloster also had no comment.
That left Maple and Motor’s Perkins, who told Wilonsky, “Big Red is surging, and the cane-sugar Big Red, since I’ve had it, is selling better than the regular Big Red. So I’m disappointed.”
You can read Brian D. Sweany’s obituary for Dublin Dr Pepper from the March issue of TEXAS MONTHLY here.