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Collections Spotlight

April 2, 2015

An interesting donation came in a few weeks ago that we wanted to share with you.  Collections Associate Margaret has got the scoop for you!

In the throes of World War II, young men were called to serve their country overseas leaving many companies with gaps in their workforce. Women were asked to rise to the occasion and take on the jobs traditionally performed by men, be it clerical to industrial labor. The then Dr Pepper Company was not immune to the loss of hands for production. In an effort to continue delivery and the manufacturing process, Dr Pepper hired on the wives, siblings and other female industrialists to temporarily and in some cases permanently, work in the bottling facilities. These women were nicknamed the Pepperettes. This month’s collection spotlight features photographs of a handful of the Pepperettes of the Fort Worth, Texas bottling facility in 1944. Also shown are the managers of the Fort Worth bottling plant Rollie and J. B. Dorris relations of Henry B. Dorris who founded the Fort Worth bottling facility in 1928 after working for over twenty years for the Waco based Dr Pepper Company.

Jayee, Gene, Loraine, Louise, Helen, and Helen

Jayee, Gene, Loraine, Louise, Helen, and Helen

Featured in all of the photographs is Helen Taylor, who at eighteen years joined the Pepperettes on the Dr Pepper bottling line during the war. Her experience inside the company was monitoring the conveyor belts of Dr Pepper bottles and packing for the trucks. Helen Taylor’s daughter, Betty Brett remembers her mother remarking about being allowed to pull a Dr Pepper bottle straight off the line whenever she felt thirsty.

photograph of Pepperettes Lou, ?, Violet, and Helen

Lou and Gene front row
Violet and Helen back row

Balancing family life with the new environment of a career, women like Taylor worked the same eight hour days as their male counterpoints. They even may have worn the same uniforms refitted for the female form or were issued new tailored route salesman suits. Either way, the surprising swiftness in which women were incorporated into the work force speaks volumes to the efficiency and aptitude of companies such as Dr Pepper in coping with war time employment and production.

photograph of the Ft. Worth team in the radio studio

The Ft. Worth team ready for their super-duper question. Left to right: Helen Taylor, John Hawes, Violet Owens, and Charles Richardson.

Many of the News and Views as well as the Clock Dial publications from 1942-1945 illuminate the role women played in the operation of the bottling machinery in articles titled “Womanpower”. Even during the misery of the war however, Pepperettes and other Dr Pepper employees found time to relax. In an article titled “Dallas and Ft. Worth Fight Air Battle” in the April 1945 issue of News and Views, Helen Taylor was a featured contestant on the quiz radio show “The Quiz of Two Cities” sponsored by Listerine toothpaste. Helen was the first round contestant for the Fort Worth bottling team followed by fellow Pepperette Violet Owens in the third round versus the Dallas Dr Pepper bottling team in a four round challenge of general knowledge questions. In each round, one contestant from each team answered three questions worth both points and money. If the contestant answered the question correctly, the money went into their own pocket. If the contestant’s response was incorrect, the money went into a jackpot for a team oriented bonus round called the “super-duper question”. After a nail-biting tie, the Dallas team went on to win the jackpot prize of sixty-three dollars. After the war, Pepperettes continued to work on in various capacities at Dr Pepper bottling facilities, however, the nickname would not reappear until the early 1980s as a reference to a band of “I’m a Pepper” commercial dancers.

photograph of Happy Pepperettes - Violet, Helen, Georgia, and Gene

Happy Pepperettes – Violet, Helen, Georgia, and Gene

Photograph of Pepperettes - Violet, Helen, and Gene

Violet, Helen, and Gene

photograph of J. B. Dorris standing in front of stacks of crates with filled Dr Pepper bottles

J. B. Dorris

photograph of Rollie Dorris outside the Ft. Worth bottling plant

Rollie Dorris

Photograph of Rollie Dorris, Dr Pepper plant manager, 1944, Ft. Worth

Rollie Dorris, Dr Pepper plant manager, 1944, Ft. Worth

article about the Ft. Worth Pepperette team

Ft. Worth Pepperette team article

photograph of 1940s Ft. Worth Dr Pepper bottle showing the bottom label

1940s Ft. Worth Dr Pepper bottle

photograph of 1940s Ft. Worth Dr Pepper bottle

1940s Ft. Worth Dr Pepper bottle


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco. During the spring and summer, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15. During the fall and winter, the museum is closed on Mondays; other days remain the same.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.


The Venerated Vernors Ginger Soda

March 30, 2015

green, yellow, and white Vernor's Ginger Soda logoCheck out what Collections Associate Rachael discovered about Vernors Ginger Soda this month.

Vernors Ginger Soda, formerly Vernor’s Ginger Ale, is a “deliciously different” soft drink found mainly in the Midwest.  Invented in Michigan at some point between 1866 and 1880, it has been touted as having a cult following of primarily Michiganders and Midwesterners.  The drink is not like other ginger ales on the market, lending to its slogan of “deliciously different”.  It has an intense ginger flavor, more closely associated with a ginger beer than ginger ale, and is extremely effervescent.  In fact, the carbonation is so powerful, that it has been known to lead to coughing fits if it is breathed in.  Regardless of this side effect, people still love it and continue to drink it.

label on a Vernors Ginger Ale bottle that says gingery Vernors, deliciously different!Growing up in Michigan, I am quite familiar with Vernors and the following it has.  Everyone is familiar with old wives tales and remedies and, of course, many are regional.  During the early days of the soda fountain, soda was considered to have health benefits, although today we do not usually think of soda this way.  In Michigan, Vernors was no exception to this and was considered to have many health benefits.  Today, Vernors is still considered to be a cure-all, the best medicine for anything from a stomach ache to a hangover, not to mention just an overall tasty pop.  So how did this drink become so popular?  To examine this, we will briefly look at the history of Vernors.

Vernors can that says original Vernors, it's differentVernors was invented by James Vernor in Detroit, Michigan.  The story of how Vernors was invented has a few different variations, however.  Undoubtedly the most popular story is that James Vernor was experimenting with flavors while at his job at Higby and Stearn’s Drugstore before he left to fight in the Civil War as part of the 4th Michigan Calvary in 1861.  When he returned in 1866, he discovered that the elixir he had left to age in a barrel during his time in the war had aged to perfection.  He subsequently opened his own pharmacy and Vernor’s Ginger Ale began to be produced.  This is most likely the romanticized version of the story.  It is more accepted that Vernor, always thinking of different soda concoctions, developed the idea for Vernor’s Ginger Ale while he was fighting in the Civil War and brought the idea to fruition after he returned and opened his own pharmacy.  This idea is supported by the original patent for Vernor’s, which states the creation date as 1880, and the fact that a barrel of ginger ale would most likely not have remained untouched at his employers’ business for four years.  Regardless, whether the date of its creation was 1866 or 1880, it remains America’s oldest surviving soft drink.

James Vernor was known to have high standards not only in his pharmacy but also in the making of his soft drinks.  He used only the finest ingredients – distilling fine Jamaican ginger in the proper proportion to other fruit juices.  The water was purified with a special purification system and even the carbonic gas was produced by Vernor so that every step of the way all of his ingredients would meet his high requirements.  This special attention surely helped the drink sky rocket to one of Detroit’s favorites and lead to the business needing to be expanded.  The business continued to grow and eventually opened up franchises as it became popular throughout the Midwest.

Vernor's Ginger Ale sign from the 1950sJames Vernor was not just a pharmacist but a politician and was held in high esteem by much of the community.  It is with his work ethic, that Vernor’s was woven into the very fabric of Detroit and became an extremely popular drink among Michiganders.  Although the company had some setbacks, and has changed hands multiple times, it is still an extremely popular drink in Michigan and elsewhere.  In the late 1950s, the company underwent a major change.  Until this point the company had been private, but due to financial reasons, the decision was made to take the company public.  It was at this point that the apostrophe was dropped from the company’s name.  At a later point in time, the drink name was changed from Vernors Ginger Ale to Vernors Ginger Soda.  After changing hands many times, Vernors was eventually purchased by Cadbury Schweppes in 1993 and was later incorporated into Dr Pepper Snapple Group when it spun off from Cadbury Schweppes in 2008.  This move allowed Vernors to expand further from the Midwest and is now available in 33 states.  Although it is available in many states, Michigan still accounts for most of its sales.

Vernors Ginger Soda cookbook featuring a baked ham recipe and an apple jello recipe that both use VernorsAlthough not wildly popular in the United States as a whole like Dr Pepper or Coca-Cola, many Midwesterners have fond memories of the drink.  Whether it was a recipe that their parents used when they were sick or their memories of the trademark Vernors gnome, Woody, Midwesterners, especially Michiganders, almost all have a memory of this pop.  Aretha Franklin uses Vernors to glaze her holiday ham.  Many Michiganders who have retired in Florida still enjoy their Vernors, making it another large market for the drink.  My father can still remember the first time he had Vernors when he was around eight.  His older sister convinced him to try it, it tingled and made him cough but he loved it, and it has been his favorite pop ever since.  Vernors is even featured in the television show “Parks and Rec”, set in Indiana, where it can be seen everywhere from pop machines to the actors enjoying cans of it.  Much as Dr Pepper is enjoyed in Texas as a Texas original, Vernors is enjoyed in the Midwest as a Michigan original and one could say that is has been woven in the culture of that state and region in many ways.


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco. During the spring and summer, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15. During the fall and winter, the museum is closed on Mondays; other days remain the same.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.

Love is in the air!

March 9, 2015

Valentines_Logo2Some of you may be aware that we have a variety of spaces that are available for renting here at the Museum.  Over the years, we have hosted a variety of Christmas parties for local businesses, birthday parties in the soda fountain, and even proms for local high schools.  Recently we have noticed that love seems to be in the air!  Rehearsal dinners, receptions, and even a wedding or two!

rehearsal dinner tables

rehearsal dinner tables


rehearsal dinner dessert tables

“Sam did a great job in helping me with all of my questions and making sure everything went smoothly.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a unique location to hold an event.” – Michelle Robins


wedding portrait by Dr Pepper truck at the Dr Pepper Museum

Photograph by Ashley Munn

Wedding portrait outside Dr Pepper Museum

Photograph by Ashley Munn

photograph of rental gallery at the Dr Pepper Museum

Photograph by Ashley Munn

dance floor at wedding reception at the Dr Pepper Museum

Photograph by Ashley Munn

Dr Pepper cupcakes


Dr Pepper bottle as wedding favor

photograph by Ashley Munn

Dr Pepper bottle as wedding favor

photograph by Ashley Munn

For more ideas on developing your own Dr Pepper themed wedding, visit us on Pinterest.

So if February saw something shiny and sparkly land on your finger, book the Dr Pepper Museum for your special day.  Learn more here.  Facilities Manager Sam Torres is ready and waiting to assist you!


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco.  The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own
Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.

Devilishly Different

January 20, 2015

We have a few 1.698objects in the museum that have been raising a lot of questions lately. All of these objects revolve around one idea – HOT Dr Pepper. That’s right, Dr Pepper that is served hot like tea. Many people wonder how this idea got started or if it even really was something that people drank. Often times, it is hard for us to get past our preconceived notions such as soda should be cool and refreshing, not something that is warm and comforting. As Dr Pepper has done many times throughout the years with their distinct taste, in the late 1950s they began challenging these preconceived notions people have about soft drinks by serving HOT Dr Pepper.

So, if people were used to soft drinks being served cold, how in the world did the HOT Dr Pepper fad get started? It all began in September of 1958 when Wesby R. Parker, President of Dr Pepper Company, had an idea to create a warm and comforting version of Dr Pepper. While visiting a bottling plant during a blizzard, one of the rouSnowman HOT Dr Pepperte salesmen joked that they needed a hot drink to sell during winter weather. This sparked an idea in Parker and he began to experiment in his kitchen. Through trial and error, he experimented until he found the perfect way to serve Dr Pepper warm. Dr Pepper simply needed to be heated to 180 degrees and poured over a thin slice of lemon to create this delicious and comforting concoction. Through his experiments he determined that overheating the drink scorched it and ruined the Dr Pepper flavor and that a slice of lemon was important because it gave the flavor of the rind.

After find the perfect formula for HOT Dr Pepper, Parker had to tell Dr Pepper Company employees of his discovery. Of course, his idea was received with hesitation. Who drinks hot soda? So many companies had marketed their drinks as cool and refreshing through the years that no one would think of turning a soda into something warm and comforting. Although there was some hesitation initially, after some taste tests at the Dr Pepper Company, employees soon realized they could quite possibly have a hit on their hands and an edge over other soda companies in the market. They began sampling the drink across the country and eventually, after taste tests proved favorable, they began marketing the drink. They marketed the drink under the taglines “Devilishly Different” and “Winter Warmer”, which paved the way for it to be used as an alcoholic mixer. Rum became the favorite choice to mix with HOT Dr Pepper and was known as the “Schuss-Boomer”. HOT Dr Pepper proved to be the ideal beverage for cold weather and fit in nicely during winter holiday celebrations.

By the reactions we receive to the Hot Dr Pepper promotionHOT Dr Pepper items on display, you would think that it was just a passing fad. However, this is not the case. From the time HOT Dr Pepper was introduced in the late 1950s, it proved favorable with taste testing and was a popular holiday drink well into the 1970s. And even though the drink became more obscure over time, HOT Dr Pepper merchandise was sold well into the 1990s. There have even been references to the drink in popular culture such as when it was included in the 1999 movie “Blast from the Past”. Today, loyal Peppers will still occasionally serve HOT Dr Pepper at holiday functions. So, if you have been to the museum and have seen the HOT Dr Pepper items or have just read this blog and became curious about what HOT Dr Pepper tastes like, why don’t you give it a try! You can even get one served up in our Soda Fountain if you want an authentic experience!


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco.  The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own
Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.

Root Beer as a Cure-All?

November 19, 2014

Root Beer logo for blogIn our last blog, the list of potential ingredients in root beer grew longer and longer.  So many of those ingredients were used for curing a variety of ailments.  So…

Is Root Beer medicine?

Just like Dr Pepper, many of the early varieties of root beer began in pharmacies. There were many pharmacists trying to create cure-all drinks, often coming up with liquids containing roots, berries, bark and flavorings. Many of those herbs, roots, and berries mixed together to create root beer were thought to have medicinal or healing properties.

Hires syrup container in soda fountainCustomers would buy the root beer flavored syrup from the pharmacist, take it home and then experiment with how much water or even seltzer water to mix it with. The result tasted both sweet and bitter.

Hires extract bottlesCharles Hires came across a recipe for a wonderful tasting tea.  He developed it into a root beer of more than 25 herbs, roots and berries. This elixir was then brewed by consumers at home.  In 1876 he introduced it at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition and the public loved it.  In 1880 he had a liquid extract ready to go for use at home.  By 1893 it had become so popular it was bottled and sold as a soft drink.

In traditional herbal medicine, many root beer ingredients are thought to contain a variety of health benefits. Now obsolete in natural and herbal medicine, sassafras was traditionally used as a diuretic and thought to cleanse the blood and promote skin health. Sarsaparilla, similarly, was typically used to beautify the complexion and as a diuretic.  Traditionally, wintergreen leaf was thought to prevent gas and to ease digestion, and it was also typically used to ease nerve pain.  Licorice root was used in folkloric medicine for its ability to ease digestive distress and some clinical evidence suggests it can be beneficial in the treatment of ulcers.  Other herbs and ingredients used in homemade root beer: ginger, dandelion, hops, birch have also featured widely in traditional herbal medicine.


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco.  The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own
Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.



October 29, 2014

Root Beer logo for blogIn follow up to our last blog about the brands of root beer, let’s consider those flavors again.  What exactly are the flavors in root beer?  Is it really made of roots?

Root Beer Recipes

Local ingredients account for the variety of root beer flavors and recipes around the country. The primary flavor found in any old-fashioned homemade root beer recipe is sassafras, a deciduous tree in North America.  The characteristic sweet flavor comes from the tree’s roots, giving us the name root beer. Now, the primary flavor we associate with root beer is wintergreen, not sassafras.

As the pilgrims came to America they had to have liquid to drink and water stored in wooden kegs spoiled too quickly.  Therefore, beer was often the beverage consumed.  The colonists did not have barley or other grains for brewing at first, so they used the ingredients that were available: berries, bark and roots.  The alcohol was the preservative.  The beer was boiled and brewed like tea to blend the flavors and kill the germs.  It was then cooled and fermented with yeast.  Root beer was made one of three ways: from the leftovers of the strong beers, with small amounts of grain, or was consumed during its early stage, while still sweet, before fermentation was complete.


There are now hundreds of root beer brands in the United States, produced in every state and yet there is no standardized recipe. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of sassafras oil as it was found to be a carcinogen causing cancer. The root beer industry quickly started experimenting to find a replacement, while preserving the flavor. Inventors discovered that sassafras could be treated prior to the removal of the oil, keeping the flavor and eliminating any risk. Today artificial flavorings can be used.

Common Root Beer Ingredients

Wowbobwow12 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia CommonsSassafras is a genus of three living and one extinct species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae, native to eastern North America and eastern Asia. Sassafras is commonly found in open woods, along fences, or in fields. It grows well in moist, well-drained, or sandy soils and tolerates a variety of soil types, but does best in southern and wetter areas of distribution.

Wintergreen Leaf also goes by the common names of Canada tea, hilberry, checkerberry, boxberry, grouse berry, deerberry, partridge berry, mountain tea and redberry tea. It is commonly found from the northeastern parts of North America all the way down to Alabama.

FountainSpringsWintergreenEuropean settlers learned to use wintergreen from Native Americans, who made the herb into a tea, as well as to freshen breath. During the American Revolution, wintergreen tea was an alternative to imported tea, which was heavily taxed by the British.

Sarsaparilla Root is native to South and Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  It has been used over the years to treat many different ailments.  It was primarily used to treat syphilis in the 1800s and was exported to Europe for this express purpose.  Health tonics were manufactured and sold with the claims that they were useful as diuretics, blood purifiers, and general health boosting agents.  Although it is not used as frequently for syphilis anymore, the other health claims still stand up, and many make tea using the roots of this plant to help detoxify and strengthen the body.

Licorice is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra that a somewhat sweet flavor can be extracted from. The licorice plant is a legume (related to beans and peas) that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia.  It has been cultivated in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.  In recent years, it has been commercially grown in northern India and has had some success in the United States.

In addition to flavoring candy, gum, and soft drinks, it is used for many ailments including asthma, athlete’s foot, baldness, body odor, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds and flu, coughs, dandruff, emphysema, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, heartburn, HIV, viral infections, fungal infections, ulcers, liver problems, Lyme disease, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, tendinitis, tuberculosis, ulcers, yeast infections, prostate enlargement and arthritis.

Ginger Plant vsGinger or ginger root is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale.  It is consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. Ginger cultivation began in South Asia and has since spread to East Africa and the Caribbean.

The traditional medical form of ginger historically was called Jamaica ginger. It was frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines. Tea brewed from ginger is a common folk remedy for colds. Ginger ale and ginger beer are also drunk as stomach settlers.

Juniperus communis conesA juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers.  It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinctive flavor.

There are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere. The juniper is an evergreen tree native to Europe, Asia, and the northern parts of North America and it is especially abundant in central Texas and Eastern Oregon.

Juniper is frequently used by herbalists for urinary tract and bladder infections and inflammations. Nibbling a few juniper berries or sipping juniper berry tea one hour before meals is often recommended to those troubled by indigestion.

Baton de cannelleCinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum.  Cinnamom verum accounts for 7,500-10,000 tons of the spice produced, with the remainder produced by other species. In Sri Lanka, only C. verum is cultivated; Sri Lanka still produces 80-90% of the world’s supply, and this species is also cultivated on a commercial scale in Seychelles and Madagascar. Global production of the other species averages 20,000-25,000 tons, of which Indonesia produces around two-thirds of the total, with significant production in China. India and Vietnam are also minor producers.

Many ancient societies used cinnamon to treat bronchitis. Additional folk or traditional uses include gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, and control of diabetes, as well as a variety of other conditions.

Vanilla 6beansVanilla beans are the fruit of the vanilla orchid, the only orchid plant that produces an edible fruit. Because of its shape, and because the Melipone bee, historically responsible for the pollination of the orchid, is found only in Mexico, the orchid needs assistance in order to produce fruit. Today, the orchids are grown in Mexico, the Bourbon Islands, Tahiti, Indonesia, India, Uganda, and Papua New Guinea. They are hand pollinated, hand harvested and hand cured by farmers in a process that takes anywhere from 13 to 14 weeks.

Vanilla extracts have reportedly been used to help alleviate toothache. Vanilla pods have been used as an antispasmodic and to treat fevers. Vanilla is added to various foods and beverages as a flavoring. It is also used in various body care products and aromatherapy for its purported relaxant effects.


The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco.  The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15.  For more information, visit us on the web at To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.