Did A Real Doctor Inspire Dr Pepper's Name?

From its humble beginnings in 1885 (via Dr Pepper-Snapple Group), Dr Pepper has become one of America's most trusted doctors to turn to when in need of crisp, cold refreshment. With over 596 million 192-ounce cases sold in 2020 alone (via Statista), the United States has shown their love for this physician of pop many times over. And why wouldn't they? With a flavor profile that's as impressive as any medical degree and cure-alls such as Jelly Belly Dr Pepper beans and Dr Pepper BBQ sauces (via Just Fun Facts) it's no wonder it's found a place alongside other soda giants such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

But just where exactly does the "Dr" part of the name come in? Who exactly was the original "Dr Pepper," if there even was one, and what's their connection to a drugstore soda pop? To unravel this mystery of this esteemed soda, the answer lies within the very first days of Dr Pepper during its creation in a Waco drugstore.

Who is the legendary doctor behind the Pepper?

The story behind the doctor of Dr Pepper ties back to its inventor, Charles Alderton, who worked as a pharmacist at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. During the 1800s, there was a widespread belief in the "medical properties" of "soda waters" (via Elemental) especially when added with flavored syrups. Alderton would experiment with different syrup combinations and flavorings, until he at last discovered the perfect combination of 23 syrups that would become the legendary soda (via the Dr Pepper Museum). With the drugstore air filled with the sweet aroma of syrups and the soft fizzing of bubbles, people eagerly gathered around to try Alderton's new creation.

But what to call this new miracle drink? At first, some folks just called it a "Waco," after the city it was created in, but it was clear this drink needed a much classier name. Although the Dr Pepper Museum claims that there are several origin stories to who the "Dr" of Dr Pepper is, the most prevalent theory is that the drink is named after one Dr. Charles T. Pepper, a physician and an old Virginian friend of Morrison's Corner Store owner Wade Morrison (via UVA Magazine). Some retellings of the story claim that Pepper's daughter and Morrison had a brief romantic fling, but little evidence leaves this story as stale and flat as a warm Dr Pepper.

Although there is no real doctor in Dr Pepper, it certainly gives us prescriptions for good times.