News-Antique.com - May 04,2009 - Dallas, TX – When what is widely considered to be the original formula for Dr Pepper crosses the auction block at Heritage Auction Galleries on May 13, the world will finally get a chance to see just what it was that originally gave one of America’s three greatest soft drinks – and certainly its first – that distinctive, so-hard-to-identify flavor.
It will also be the culmination of one of those stories you hear only on radio or TV about a seemingly random find that ends up being a one-of-kind treasure.
“I was driving back home to Tulsa from a business trip in Texas when I stopped to look in some antique shops late in the afternoon in Shamrock,” said consignor Bill Waters. That’s Shamrock, Texas, by the way, a little town just outside of Waco. “I’ve always been a rare book and manuscript aficionado, so the woman at the place brings out an old box of stuff. It was a neat old medicine bottle crate with an old book stuck in a plastic bag wedged in the back of it.”
Waters bought the notebook, not knowing what was in it, but knowing that it came out of the estate of L.B. Woods, who at one point owned and operated a shoe store out of the same space as the Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, well known as the birthplace of America’s first soft drink, Dr Pepper.
“Two months later I was actually getting ready to list it on eBay, trying to figure out how to show people what I had there,” Waters said. “I thought I should say something about the store it came out of, with reference to that store at one time being the Old Corner Drugstore. I popped it up on Google and the first thing that came up was Dr Pepper. I started saying to myself, ‘wait a minute.’”
Within a few days, however, Waters knew what was going on, and realized that he had in his possession was a notebook containing the original formula for ‘Dr Peppers Pepsin Bitters,’ or Dr Pepper, written in the hand of its inventor. That notebook has now made its way to Heritage, in Dallas, and is one of the highlight lots of the company’s May Political & Americana Auction.
“It’s an exciting thing, obviously,” said Mary Beth Webster, Collections Manager at The Dr Pepper Museum in Waco. “We hope that somewhere along the line someone would see fit for this rare and important piece of history to reside here at the museum for others to see, and for its research potential for both Dr Pepper and Waco.”
The humble creation of pharmacist, and University of Texas graduate, Charles Alderton, an employee of Wade B. Morrison at the Old Corner Drugstore – circa 1885 – Dr. Pepper was welcome refreshment to the harried citizenry of Waco, then a major cattle and train transportation hub. What gave it that distinct flavor, alternately sweet and spicy, became a source of