Dr Pepper’s history preserved by a long line of Baylor grads
You know how much Baylor Bears love Dr Pepper. For years, we’ve served it all over campus, mixed it with ice cream every Tuesday, and even popped them open at weddings. Some even joke that the real reason Baylor moved to Waco was because administrators had heard about the drink’s invention the year before!
But what you may not know is just how big a part Baylor alumni have played in preserving and sharing the history of Dr Pepper. In 1985, the company held its official 100th birthday celebration in Waco. A massive tent was set up at the intersection of 5th Street and Austin Avenue, and some 2,000 people showed up to hear the guest of honor, comedian Bob Hope, who joked that Waco should honor the drink’s inventor, Doc Alderton, with “a statue of him up in the town square — with fizz coming out of the top.”
The celebration (and perhaps Hope’s comment) spurred a thought among Dr Pepper lovers: Shouldn’t there be something to honor the 100-year history of America’s oldest soft drink? Soon enough, Wilton Lanning, BA ’62, was spearheading a Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce task force to create a museum dedicated to Dr Pepper. It even drew the full support of then-Dr Pepper Chairman W.W. “Foots” Clements, himself a Baylor Bear, who spent his younger years delivering cases of Dr Pepper around Waco.
Finally, after raising $4 million to restore the abandoned Dr Pepper bottling plant downtown, the Dr Pepper Museum opened on May 11, 1991. Since then, 13 of the museum’s 26 board presidents have been Baylor graduates. Thanks to their guidance, the Dr Pepper Museum has more than 100,000 artifacts and has welcomed guests from all across the world.
Last month — led by current board president and Baylor alum Marcus Brooks, BBA ’00 — the museum celebrated its 25th anniversary, unveiling the Emerson Holt-Ted Getterman Exhibit Gallery. The new space was made possible by a gift from the family of Baylor Regent Emerita Sue Getterman, BA ’50; it expands the telling of Dr Pepper’s history as well as the story of Big Red, Waco’s other soft drink, and the city’s connection to the Holt Bottling Company, the first 7Up bottler in Texas.
Sic ’em, Dr Pepper-loving Bears!