An Ode to Dr. Pepper

An Ode to Dr. Pepper

As it comes time for us to begin thinking about what we are thankful for-

What’s that? Thanksgiving’s over? Oh, and it’s Christmas now? Got it. Let’s try that again.

As the season of giving looms near the horizon, I think a gift that many of us take for granted deserves a moment in the spotlight. A gift that perches atop many a high school student’s desk in the first few periods of the day. A gift that is underrated yet ubiquitous in it’s influence. A gift that is perfect in every way, the ideal item of consumption. If it isn’t obvious already, I’m referring to the red-and-white branded can and/or bottles of Dr. Pepper that flow through the bloodstream of so many adolescents and adults alike.

Entering my junior year of high school, I always found it strange why people downed cans upon cans of sodas during the school day, and why the most popular drink of choice (other than Starbucks) was Dr. Pepper, a soda that I found myself skipping over when getting a drink from, say, a soda fountain. But once I witnessed the verbal and, in a way, physical skirmish between seniors in my first period Advanced Journalism class that ensued after an oblivious student walked through the door with a six pack of said drink, I needed to understand what the hype was, and whether or not it was justified.

My first encounter with Dr. Pepper occurred this weekend, in fact. After practically inhaling a bowl of The Halal Guys’ chicken and beef gyro platter (not trying to plug or anything, but I very highly recommend!), my sister pushed her fountain drink towards me and asked if I had ever actually tried Dr. Pepper. She is an avid enthusiast, and swears upon that drink sometimes being the only thing that gets her through most of her college classes in a day. Being the adventurous and thrill-seeking person that I am(not), I tentatively took a sip.

Have you ever seen that one scene from RatatouilleĀ when Remi is taught to combine flavors and experience the sensation that is taste in it’s true form? And everything around him fades away, colors are bursting before his eyes, an elaborate orchestra sings in the background, and his face is just an expression of true bliss? Well, regardless of whether you have, that was me on my first sip of Dr. Pepper.

I don’t appreciate sodas, though. I’ve tried everything, but I even wince after drinking sparkling water, putting the can back on the counter and practically limping away while muttering about how all sodas are just, “spicy water”. I hate the way Sprite makes my eyes water, I loathe the saccharine-sweet aftertaste of Coke, and the painful way your nose burns after drinking a Fanta, but this was different.

Dr. Pepper is just a balance of everything. It’s not too fizzy, but not flat enough to taste like fruit juice. It’s got the complexity of a mature Pepsi, but the simplicity of a childish Orange Crush. It perfectly resets your palate while giving you the pleasant feeling of all 23 flavors incorporated into one swig from a bottle.

Speaking of flavors, they really tried with this soda. If you ask someone what flavor a Dr. Pepper is, they’ll scoff at you, wave you away with their hand and respond, “Everything!” Some of the flavors in this multi-faceted drink include all sorts of berries, licorice, rum, caramel, ginger, cherry, and so much more.

But(warning, hot take ahead) my first sip of this only yelled one flavor at me, and maybe it’s the culmination of everything listed above, but I think Dr. Pepper tastes like…bubblegum. And I am fully aware that a bubblegum-flavored soda sounds repulsive, but if this was their intention, the execution was on point!

Flavor and quality aside, the aesthetics of this drink and it’s increasing prevalence in pop culture have lent itself to an exponentially increasing fan base. Even if the drink isn’t all that, there’s a certain sense of unity that comes with knowing your fellow classmates have similar soda presences as compared to you. But this urges the question, why hasn’t this happened with all other daily beverages? What I think is the answer is that Dr. Pepper is so very versatile. Remember how I said it was the perfect balance of everything? The perfect blend of all those flavors gives something for everyone to enjoy in the drink.

Just think about it for a second.

Would you rather be accused of being addicted to Dr. Pepper, a relatable and understandable obsession, or be shamed for being addicted to Cherry Coke? The latter, pushing aside all preconceived notions, is something to be frowned upon. It’s the kind of thing you’d see someone who hasn’t got their life figured out and is struggling with an existential crisis to be grappling with. No one wants to admit to being addicted to Coke, but loving Dr. Pepper is just a stamp of your assimilation into modern-day society. It’s as simple as that.

My first experience with Dr. Pepper was something to be remembered. The next time I fill up a Chipotle water cup with soda(guilty!), I might just go straight to the bubbly white lettering that promises an appealing acquaintance with a newfound favorite soda. And that, fellow reader, is something to be truly thankful for. I mean, it’s definitely something to keep in mind as the New Year approaches. Or as the holiday season comes up.

Whatever the time of year, one thing is clear; There’s nothing better than a good Dr. Pepper.

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    Joe GardellaJan 15, 2024 at 8:33 am

    Agreed!! Although I am a fan of most sodas. I like the point you were trying to get across