When I was 9 years old, I was very particular what I liked to eat and drink. One of those was Dr. Pepper. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I just loved its sweet flavor. I do know that I didn’t want to drink Pepsi as most everyone I knew was forced to drink it. So I picked something different.
[Backstory: Roswell was the site of a Pepsi Bottling Factory. Many of my friends had parents that in some way worked for the plant. Being employees of Pepsi, they were expected to drink Pepsi. And that trickled down to my friends. So, Pepsi was everywhere. The blue and red cans burned my retinas. My mother didn’t work for the bottling plant so I figured I could drink anything I wanted. So I drank Dr. Pepper. Funny thing, I found out many years later, once the plant closed and disappeared, the same Pepsi Bottling Plant was responsible for bottling Dr. Pepper in Southeast New Mexico.]
We lived in this apartment complex around that time. It was called Columbia Manor – like the name made it more luxurious than it really was. In the court yard, there were massive trees and lots of grass – lots of area to run and climb for a kid – and a swimming pool. Next to the pool was a small laundry room and right outside — a Dr. Pepper machine!
The machine was simple and smelling — dispensing Dr. Pepper in a can. It was those Dr. Pepper cans that I noticed they went from pull tabs to the tabs we see on cans today. Unfortunately, I was guilty of littering with those old pull tabs. I’m not proud but it was different times. And the price of a can of Dr. Pepper: only 25 cents! The next summer I remember it going up to 30 cents and I panicked that I would now need another nickel. Dr. Pepper may have been my very first addiction. I wanted it all the time. No, I needed it. I would drink it after school. Run to the machine on Saturday mornings in between Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks. If I had no money, I would peddling my BMX bike in the parking lot of the Tastee Freeze and Long John Silvers hoping to find nickels and dimes.
At my mother’s work, there was another Dr. Pepper machine. Yet, this one was an old fashioned side-loader that dispensed Dr. Pepper in bottles. It was so fun using the bottle opener on the machine to pop the top off my Dr. Pepper. Nothing was better than ice cold Dr. Pepper in a bottle. I can remember the fizz tickling my nose. I nearly threw a tantrum when I learned they took the machine away. Rumor was that it was losing money and there was a ability to pull two bottles at one time confusing the machine and getting two drinks for one. (who would do that? It’s immoral and — okay it was me, okay! I really regret that.)
Today, after 30 years, I rarely drink Dr. Pepper. Not sure when and where I stopped drinking it. I know in Junior High, Cherry Coke hit the scene. It may have been then. I sometimes drink one, as I did this morning. My daughter loves it. She only drinks it and refuses to settle for any of its knock-offs like Mr. Pibb. And it’s due to her and her generosity to share a Dr. Pepper with me — triggering this flood of memories….