The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, January 24, 1997, Columns

The oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world attracts visitors to Dublin, Texas not only because it's over 100 years old, but because they still use the original formula with Imperial pure cane sugar from Sugar Land. Enthusiasts of the soft drink say they can tell a difference and often drive hundreds of miles to stock up on their favorite drink.

The story of Dr Pepper began 92 miles southeast of Dublin in Waco. A young pharmacist, Charles Alderton, invented the soft drink at the Old Corner Drug Store. A patent was awarded in 1885.

Before moving to Texas, Alderton had been infatuated with the teenage daughter of a doctor in Virginia. Because of the girl's age, her father discouraged the romance. Alderton and Wade Morrison, the drug store's proprietor, named the drink for the doctor. Contrary to many stories, Alderton did not return to the East to marry the girl, but married Carrie Jeffress of Round Rock.

The soft drink quickly gained acceptance in Central Texas and at the World's Fair in 1904. The popular name for the new fountain drink at the time was "Waco." The drug store at Fourth Street & Austin Avenue soon had trouble keeping up with demand for their syrup.

The Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Works, the first Dr Pepper bottling plant, opened in 1891. That same year Sam Houston Prim moved to Dublin and founded the Dublin Bottling Works & Ice Co.

In 1922, the Dr Pepper Company moved its national headquarters from Waco to Dallas and introduced franchise territories. Prim was offered first choice of territories. He drew a circle with a 40-mile radius around Dublin and said, "That will do for me."

When Prim died in 1946, his daughter Grace Lyon assumed control of the company with Bill Kloster as manager. Kloster started working at the plant in 1933 when he was 14 years old, working as a bottle sorter for 10 cents an hour. He inherited the company in 1991.

In 1971, the Dublin plant was the only franchise to receive permission from Dr Pepper headquarters to continue using pure cane sugar instead of cheaper corn syrup -- a difference purists can taste.

Tuesdays are bottling day, when the 1946 bottling machine is cranked up. While waiting for the tours to begin, visitors can "Drink a Bite to Eat" at the soda fountain in the plant's Old Doc's Soda Shop or browse through the gift shop.

The tour of the bottling plant takes about 15 minutes and includes a bottle of Dr Pepper from Kloster's personal vending machine. The three rooms of Kloster's Dr Pepper museum hold memorabilia from over 100 years of Dr Pepper advertising.

The Dublin Dr Pepper Plant is one block south of the intersection of US377/67 and TX6. The plant is open Mon.-Fri., 9am-5pm, Sat., 10am-5pm, and Sun., 1-5pm. If you can't make the drive any time soon, the company also ships. For more information on the company, call 817/445-3466. For more information on the Dublin area, call the chamber of commerce at 800/9-DUBLIN.

Coming up...

Making Candles will be the day's activity at Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm, Jan. 26. 837-1215.

Auditions for the 1997 Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie will be held in Fort Worth, Jan. 25-26 and Dallas Feb. 8-9. 972/938-3247.

Saint Arnold Beer, Houston's only microbrewery, is featured in the new film Evening Star with Shirley MacLaine and Ben Johnson. The brewery offers free tours and tastings on Saturdays at 1pm.

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