Thursday, October 10, 2013

Signs, Signs - Dr. Pepper

(click on photo to enlarge)

Another great little gem downtown Roanoke.

Found this interesting story about Dr. Pepper and the year 1957:
"According to the 1957 Gallup Poll, 53 percent of Americans considered themselves “very happy,” making ‘57 the happiest year ever for the U.S. And folks in the Roanoke Valley had two good reasons to be happy: They were celebrating the city’s 75th birthday, and they were drinking Dr Pepper – lots of Dr Pepper. So much that Roanoke Valley was crowned the “Dr Pepper Capital of the World.”

One Year in Roanoke: 1957
The efforts of entrepreneur John W. “Bill” Davis, certainly contributed. He left the oil business in Texas in 1936, moved his family to Roanoke and opened a Dr Pepper bottling plant, determined to change Roanokers’ preference for colas. He used radio, TV, personal contacts and about 5,000 different promotions.

One successful campaign had Davis’ salesmen telling six people a day the story of Dr Pepper’s origins in southwest Virginia and give them each a bottle. Those origins reached back to Charles Alderton, who created a new soft drink while working at a Waco, Texas drugstore owned by Christiansburg native Wade Morrison. Legend has it that Morrison named the new drink after Dr. Charles T. Pepper of Rural Retreat – the father of a girl who broke Morrison’s heart. It didn’t help him win the girl, but the story’s romance appealed to Roanokers.

Roanoke native Irving Sharp was second only to Davis as the area’s best-known Dr Pepper salesman. Sharp filled the WDBJ radio airwaves with plugs. He called listeners while Dr Pepper employees simultaneously went to their homes to see how many bottles of Dr Pepper were in their refrigerators. Participants were given a silver dollar for every cold bottle.

Davis’ innovative marketing, including hot Dr Pepper (served with a slice of lemon), drove Roanoke’s Dr Pepper consumption to record heights. From ‘57 to ‘59, and again in ‘61, valley residents were tops in the world."

Read more HERE

Signs, Signs


  1. I grew up drinking DP and my husband still does (these days I only do water or decaf tea, sigh). Have always loved the sign downtown.

  2. There was also a Dr. Pepper-sponsored Diamond Doorknob contest. The winner got a new ranch-style house with a diamond doorknob. Our neighbor won the contest. The house was built on Cove Rd.. They didn't want to live their nice big brick house so they sold the new house but kept the doorknob!!


  3. Dr Pepper doesn't seem to have encroached the UK markets to extent of Coke and Pepsi as I hadn't heard of it until a few years ago

  4. What an interesting story! We are Dr. Pepper fans in this household. LOVED Diet Dr. Pepper until the whole hoopla came out about fake sugar. Now we cut WAY back and only have a glass every once in awhile.

  5. dr pepper is huge in texas. (too sweet for me!)

  6. Interesting story and history of Dr. Pepper. I had no idea when or where it originated. Have never heard of hot Dr. Pepper with a slice of lemon.

  7. That was my favorite drink but it started tasting too sweet to me and I quit drinking cola unless I am at a restaurant, the fountain version still tastes right for some reason. I like the sign and have some of the old 6 oz bottles.

  8. Love the bottle cap design. Am I missing something with the numbers, though?

    1. from the dr. pepper museum site: From 1910 to 1914, Dr Pepper was identified with the slogan, "King of Beverages." "Old Doc," a typical country doctor character with monocle and top hat, became the Dr Pepper trademark character in the 1920s and 1930s. During that era, research was discovered proving that sugar provided energy and that the average person experiences a letdown during the normal day at 10:30a.m., 2:30p.m. and 4:30p.m. A contest was held for the creation of an ad using this new information. The winner of the ad campaign came up with the famous advertising slogan, "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4." :)

  9. That is a great sign and a fascinating story. My daughter had a phase in which she drank a lot of diet Dr. Pepper. I don't think she still does.

  10. I had no idea about the Dr. Pepper backstory - another lovely tidbit of history!

  11. Dr. Pepper is often called the "National Soft Drink of Texas". «Louis», being a Texas native, always preferred Dr. Pepper to any other soft drink. He didn't know the strong Virginia connection to Dr. Pepper, nor the story of how it got its name.

    A question often heard almost anywhere in the South: "Yew wanna Coke?"
    "Yup." "Whut kind?" "Dr. Pepper."

    Neat Dr. Pepper sign - as soon as he saw your photo of it, he thought "1957"!
    Then he read your story... :-)

  12. That sign brings back memories of drinking Dr. Pepper in the 1950s. It was my favorite soda along with Squirt. Both of these have changed over the years to be sweeter and less appealing to me. Great find and story.


Hi! I'm so happy you've stopped by and always enjoy your comments :)