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"Original" Dr Pepper Formula Up For Auction

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  • "Original" Dr Pepper Formula Up For Auction

    Check out this auction for a Dr Pepper formula from the late 1800s. It is hard for me to decipher all the ingredients, but the ones I think I can make out are Gentian Root, Sweet Flag Root, Mandrake Root, Wahoo Bark, Cinnamon Bark, Cardamom, Coriander, Cloves, Diluted Alcohol, Syrup, Glycerin.

    Dr Pepper: The Original "Dr Pepper Pepsin Bitters" Formula Handwritten in the Ledger Book from the Waco Drug Store in which It was Invented. A 360+ page ledger book, 8.5" x 13.5", with hundreds of drug and product formulas written and tipped in, circa 1880-1920. A book like this would have been the most precious and carefully-guarded possession of any drug store as it contained the formulas or "recipes" for the various medicinal, household, health, and beauty products that were the business lifeblood of any such establishment. This book, because of its handwritten Castles Formulas title on the cover, certainly originated with the founder of the store in 1880, and continued in use for many years with various individuals adding formulas in scattered locations throughout the book. Starting from the beginning, here is a sampling of some of the products this amazing book has the formulas for: Dr. Wilkes Dead Shot for Tape Worm; Red Lead Ointment; King's Korn Kure; Indelible Ink; Kough Kure (contains morphine acetate and chloroform- it probably would stop a cough!); Catarrh Inhalant; Dr Samuel Johnson's Cough Syrup; Calamine Lotion; La Grippe Remedies; Rubber Stamp Ink; Austin Avenue Cologne; Floor Wax; Orange-Flower Skin Food; Coating Solution for Rx Counter; Bust Developer; Castles Hair Restorer; Stephen's Condition Powder; Miller Chill Tonic; and Conger's Horse Powder. Of course, the most important formula of all is found on page 19, headed Dr Peppers Pepsin Bitters, the mixture that created a soft drink empire. The condition of the book is fair with the covers and some pages loose and tattered, scattered foxing and soiling.

    Waco, Texas, now a quiet and beautiful city of 120,000+ people and the home to Baylor University, was quite different in the years after the Civil War. It had two nicknames during that period: "The Athens of Texas" referring to its multiple institutes of higher learning; and "Six-Shooter Depot" referring to the plethora of gun-toting outlaws, barroom brawls, and street shootings. In the midst of all the "recreational" businesses in Waco, which included numerous saloons, gambling halls, and a quasi-legal bordello, a pharmacist by the name of John W. Castles opened up a large corner drug store at Fourth and Austin in 1880. He soon took a partner, Wade B. Morrison, who then bought him out and renamed the establishment Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store.

    Drug stores of the day not only sold medicinal compounds, household products, and filled doctors' prescriptions, they sometimes even removed bullets from the victims of the street shootings. Another major business for Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store was its soda fountain serving "soft" drinks and other confections, a popular gathering place for the more sedate citizenry of Waco. A staff pharmacist named Charles Alderton loved to mix various original flavors, add carbonation (a fairly new process), and serve them to his customers. A graduate of the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston, Alderton loved the mixture of scents that the drug store produced and he wanted to come up with a soft drink flavor that reminded him of these wonderful aromas. One fateful day when he thought he had succeeded in formulating a totally unique new taste, he asked his boss, W. B. Morrison, to sample the new concoction. They agreed that this was something special and started serving it to their fountain trade. Without a real name yet, it was often referred to as a "Waco." It quickly became so popular that it had to be given a name. The number of different legends as to how and why "Dr Pepper" was chosen number about a dozen but it followed a trend of the day to give products names with "Doctor" in the title in order to make them sound more healthful. The actual date of the first Dr Pepper is lost to posterity but the U.S. Patent Office recognizes December 1, 1885 as the official date when it was first served at the Old Corner Drug Store.

    The fame of this tasty treat spread to the point that Morrison and Alderton couldn't mix enough of the syrup in their backroom to satisfy demand. Alderton was a pharmacist at heart and by trade and he soon dropped out of the soft drink business; a gentleman by the name of Robert Lazenby stepped in. He and Morrison started a new company in 1891, the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company, which would eventually become the Dr Pepper Company. For a number of years, the product was known mostly in Texas. The 1904 World's Fair and Exposition in St. Louis changed that forever. Dr Pepper got its first national exposure to twenty million people. The rest, as they say, is history. Dr. Pepper was the first of the major American soft drinks to be formulated (pre-dating Coca-Cola by a year) and the only one invented west of the Mississippi. Texas is proud to have shared it with the world.

    The king of beverages. Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4. The friendly pepper-upper. America's most misunderstood soft drink. The most original soft drink ever. Be a pepper. It makes the world taste better. Be you. There's just more to it. These are some of the memorable ad campaign slogans used by Dr Pepper through the last 100+ years. The simple fact is that Dr Pepper has long since transcended being just a soda pop; it is a pop culture phenomenon. Some astute private collector or institution will be fortunate enough to own this amazing component of its humble beginning. Estimate: $50,000 - $75,000.
    Last edited by Wally1912; 05-04-2009, 02:20 PM.

  • #2
    Here is a news article which mentions the discovery of the formula and, of course, Dr Pepper Snapple's denial that this is THE formula.

    Ledger from drugstore where Dr Pepper was invented to be auctioned
    12:00 AM CDT on Monday, May 4, 2009
    Jamie Stengle, The Associated Press

    Poking through antiques stores while traveling through the Texas Panhandle, Bill Waters stumbled across a tattered old ledger book filled with formulas Suspecting he could resell it at a profit, he paid $200. Turns out, his inkling about the book's value was more spot-on than he knew.

    The book came from the Waco drugstore where Dr Pepper was invented and includes a recipe titled "D Peppers Pepsin Bitters," the Tulsa, Okla., man eventually discovered.

    "I began feeling like I had a national treasure," said Waters, 59.

    When the 8 ??-by-15 ?? inch book of more than 360 pages goes up for auction at Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries on May 13, it's expected to sell for between $50,000 and $75,000.

    "It probably has specks of the original concoction on its pages," he said.

    Waters discovered the book, its yellowed pages stained brown on the edges, underneath a wooden medicine bottle crate in a Shamrock antiques store last summer. A couple of months after buying it, he took a closer look as he prepared to sell it on eBay.

    He noticed there were several sheets with letterhead pasted into the book that hinted at its past. There is a page from a prescription pad from a Waco store titled "W.B. Morrison & Co. Old Corner Drug Store." An Internet search revealed Dr Pepper, first served in 1885, was invented at the Old Corner Drug Store in Waco by a pharmacist named Charles Alderton. Wade Morrison was a store owner.

    Faded letters on the book's fraying brown cover say "Castles Formulas." John Castles was a partner of Morrison's for a time and was a druggist at that location as early as 1880, said Mary Beth Webster, collections manager at the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco.

    As he gathered more information, Waters took a slower turn through the pages filled with formulas for everything from piano polish to a hair restorer to a cough syrup. Such formulas were the bread-and-butter of local pharmacies at that time.

    Waters eventually spotted the "D Peppers Pepsin Bitters" formula.

    The recipe written in cursive in the ledger book is hard to make out, but ingredients seem to include mandrake root, sweet flag root and syrup.

    It isn't a recipe for a soft drink, says Greg Artkop, a spokesman for the Plano-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group. He said it's likely instead a recipe for a bitter digestive that bears the Dr Pepper name.

    He said the recipe certainly bears no resemblance to any Dr Pepper recipes the company knows of. The drink's 23-flavor blend is a closely guarded secret, only known by three Dr Pepper employees, he said.

    Michael Riley, chief cataloger and historian for Heritage Auction Galleries, said they think it's an early recipe for Dr Pepper.

    "We just feel like it's the earliest version of it," he said.

    Jack McKinney, executive director of the Dr Pepper Museum, surmised that Alderton might have been giving customers something for their stomach and added some Dr Pepper syrup to make it taste better.

    "I don't guess there's any definitive answer. It's got to be the only one of its kind," Riley said.


    • #3
      On the Dr Pepper Fan page on Facebook, the company posted the following:
      An Open Letter to Dr Pepper Fans

      May 4, 2009

      Dear Dr Pepper Fans:

      We want you to know that recent claims regarding the auction of an ???early??? Dr Pepper recipe are all wet.

      While it???„?s true that everyone wants to be a Pepper, not everyone can make Dr Pepper. That skill rests in our capable hands. Many have tried over the past 125 years to copy the unique 23-flavor formula that is Dr Pepper, but no one has succeeded. The ???recipe??? in question isn???„?t the Dr Pepper formula. Heck, it isn???„?t even a recipe for a soft drink. If anyone thinks he can take ingredients such as wahoo bark, bitter orange peel and mandrake root and whip up an early version of Dr Pepper, he will be ???bitterly??? disappointed.

      The 23 flavors are a mystery???¦kind of like the missing period in Dr Pepper.

      Rest assured, Dr Pepper???„?s 23-flavor blend is safely under lock and key in an undisclosed location. The room is under 24-hour video surveillance and only one person in the world has access to this room. Only three members of the Dr Pepper family know the formula, and they aren???„?t talking. We know???¦we???„?re monitoring all of their emails, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates at 10, 2 and 4 every day.

      In short, while the ledger currently on auction may be an interesting historical artifact, it does not contain the formula for Dr Pepper.

      Trust us???¦we???„?re Dr Pepper


      • #4
        Gee I thought the asking price of $50,000 to $75,000 was a big joke.
        I applied the "too good test". If it sounds to good to be true than
        it's too good to be true. Next thing you know Coca Cola will be selling
        the original Coke formula. LMAO History and tradition are part in parcel,
        of any product folk lore.
        Don't worry, be happy. Meher Baba