Dr Pepper collectibles & memorabilia
Dr Pepper is a soft drink invented in 1885 in Texas. Advertising memorabilia related to the brand is a popular area of collectibles.
Dr Pepper’s 1885 patent date makes it the oldest major soft drink in America, preceding Coca Cola by one year.
Dr Pepper was first marketed nationally across the United States from 1904, when it made its debut at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition as a new brand of soda pop made with 23 flavours.
It was first marketed, as many drinks of the early 20th century, as an energising brain tonic.
It spread to Europe, Asisa, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.
Dr Peppers has had numerous advertising campaigns and numerous articles of merchandise that have contributed to its popularity amongst consumers and collectors over more than a century.
The first Dr Pepper logo, pre-1900s, advertised the beverage ‘Dr. Pepper’s Phos-Ferrates’, and the image indicated that the drink contained wheat and iron.
By the 1920s, the company moved to Dallas and the character ‘Old Doc’ was introduced to advertise the drink, prescribing the drink for an energy boost.
At around the same time, ‘Dr Pepper Time’ – at 10, 2 and 4 o clock as advised by Old Doc – was introduced in 1923. The 10-2-4 campaign had a clock face logo, and the slogan is the only one to have been used continuously over 5 decades. 10-2-4 Dr Pepper Time had its own radio program during World War II, in areas where the drink was served.
The 1970s ‘Be a Pepper’/ ‘I’m a Pepper’ – Drink Dr Pepper jingle was one of the most successful advertising campaigns. 1980s Out of the Ordinary campaign, in which a space cowboy and alien sidekick seek something different from generic cola, was also memorable. Products and advertising memorabilia with the various logos and slogans from these campaigns are popular with collectors.
In recent years, Dr Pepper adverts have reverted to some historic campaigns such as the ‘Dr Pepper: What’s the worst that can happen?’ advert. These celebrate the long history of Dr Pepper and its advertising, and encourages collecting interest in vintage Dr Pepper advertising memorabilia.
Collectible items of Dr Pepper memorabilia
- Antique and vintage Dr Pepper advertising signs of porcelain, tin or cardboard from the late 19th century to the 1970s.
- Embossed glass bottles.
- Bottles retaining their original paper labels are very rare
- Vintage cans featuring historic Dr Pepper logos and slogans can fetch between $10 and $100 on eBay. On the 125th anniversary of Dr Pepper, a limited number of commemorative cans showcasing vintage advertising campaigns were released.
- Vintage and limited edition packaging.
- Merchandise such as clocks, trays, thermometers that read ‘Enjoy Dr Pepper hot or cold’, fountain dispensers, soda coolers, bottle openers, salt and pepper shakers etc.
Variants and other products
The Pepper Free variant, a non-caffeinated version of Dr Pepper, ran between 1982 and 1985 only, making advertising and products from this version quite rare. Various flavour variants have been introduced from 2004 onwards, some of them for a limited time.
Dr Pepper marketed a gum in the early/mid 1980s, but this was discontinued.
Dr Pepper logos and slogans have changed almost every decade, and these changes are well recorded. This makes it relatively easy to date Dr Pepper items and adverts. The Dr Pepper museum website has a useful guide to the changing logos and slogans, with examples.
You can find a great amount of Dr Pepper advertising memorabilia on internet auction sites such as eBay, as well as from second hand stores, flea markets etc.
There are many reproduction examples of vintage advertising, so be sure to check the authenticity of each antique or vintage item.
- 1900s Dr Pepper counter top syrup dispenser sold for $26,000 at Burley Auction Group in 2008
- Dr Pepper oval serving tray with lion illustration sold for $11,500 at Dan Morphy Auctions in 2011
- 1908 cardboard Dr Pepper advertising sign sold for $8,500 at Dan Morphy auctions in 2010
- Dr Pepper leaded glass desk lamp sold for $5,500 at Dan Morphy Auctions in 2011
- Dr Pepper vintage cooler sold for $3,750 at RM Auctions in 2007
- 1950s 10 cent Dr Pepper vending machine sold for $3,750 at Victorian Casino Antiques in 2011
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