Dr Pepper is a carbonated beverage that was created in the 1880s in Waco, Texas by Charles Alderton. It was first served in 1885 and first marketed in the U.S. in 1904. Dr Pepper is marketed as having a unique flavor, and includes variations that are made without high fructose corn syrup, or a diet version. When Dr Pepper was served in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition it was made with 23 flavors. The formula for Dr Pepper is a secret, with the actual recipe being kept in two halves in different banks in Dallas, Texas. At one point it was rumored to contain prune juice but the company states this is not true.
With its signature fizzy, sweet, cherry-cola zing, Dr Pepper has long been a Southern-favorite soda. First created over 130 years ago in Waco, Texas, by a pharmacist to serve at his drugstore counter, it’s officially the nation’s oldest major soft drink. (Yes, even including Coca-Cola.) And while we still get to enjoy each of the 23 mystery flavors in the modern-day can, the original recipe made with pure cane sugar is where Southerners’ hearts really lie—served in an iced-down glass bottle, of course.
When taking a glance back at the original glass bottles containing the caffeinated refresher, not many people actually notice the distinct trio of numbers that surround the vintage Dr Pepper logo: 10, 2, and 4. Typically, there are more important tasks in mind than dissecting the packaging, like cracking the bottle open and taking a big ‘ole sip, for example. But the origin of its iconic numbers remains elusive, unless you’re privy to the storied history of the Texas soda. You’re not? Here’s the scoop.
The Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, walks visitors through the fascinating history and tradition of the original Dr Pepper brand, including the obscure numbers 10, 2, and 4 on the glass bottles. Turns out, Dr Pepper’s first slogan was indeed, “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4!” Does it make total sense to us now? Not really, but at the time, it won an ad campaign request put out by the brand after research in the 1920s showed that folks generally suffer from a sugar low around 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Hence the need for a sugary, bubbly beverage like Dr Pepper to get you going again.
While you won’t see the numbers on the modern-day can, you can still see 10, 2, and 4 on retro glass Dr Pepper bottles.