In February 1973, in the the very first issue of Texas Monthly, we published an article called “Understanding Dr Pepper.” In the 46 years since, we’ve devoted a great deal of space to the beverage. And why wouldn’t we? There are few brands more iconically Texan than Dr Pepper, no matter who owns it (it’s Keurig) or where they bottle it (not Dublin, Texas). Dr Pepper tastes like a Texas summer, a rush of caffeine and fizz and sugar and joy. It’s still a wonderful base for an ice cream float—a treat at the heart of a decades-long tradition at Baylor University—and the only soft drink brand with its own museum right here in our fine state.
Other states have their iconic soft drinks, sure. Coca-Cola is entwined with Georgia (specifically Atlanta), and Pepsi’s origins are rooted in North Carolina—but Texans are so fiercely proud of everything born and bred here that our relationship to Dr Pepper is special. And the company, despite being owned by Yanks, is nonetheless looking to formalize it. To that end, they’ve launched a Change.org petition urging the Texas Legislature to declare Dr Pepper the official soft drink of Texas.
At press time, the petition has a scant 100-plus signatures—not that many more supporters than a petition to rename the drink “Daddy Pepper” (the explanation: simply the words “this is important”), or urging the U.S. Supreme Court, for some reason, to ban it entirely. It’s neck-and-neck with a still-active petition (aimed at the Coca-Cola Company, which is not affiliated with Dr Pepper) urging that the mid-aughts flavor Dr Pepper Red Fusion return to store shelves. None of which should be construed to suggest that the push from Dr Pepper itself to be recognized is doomed to fail in the same way that Daddy Pepper is—it’s just fun to see how many Dr Pepper–themed petitions are up at Change.org. Voting to recognize Dr Pepper, while a bit of a time-waster, is the sort of charming political procedure that’s likely to sail through both houses with bipartisan support. Who wants to be the state legislator who voted against Dr Pepper, after all?
The push to reaffirm the brand’s Texas roots comes with more than just a request for fans to lobby the Lege on its behalf. In addition to the petition, Dr Pepper also announced a “heritage celebration” with more than a dozen unique labels featuring Texas landmarks and landscapes on its twenty-ounce bottles. Those bottles will only be available in the Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, and Waco markets, but enthusiasts in those areas can enjoy their beverage while gazing upon the image of an oil derrick or a field of bluebonnets, just as the good Dr surely intended.