Click Here For Photos
Dr Pepper was born here in Waco in the late 1800s when an English pharmacist named Charles Alderton began mixing up the delightful concoction. It became so popular that storeowner W.B. Morrison and colleague Robert S Lazenby started bottling the syrup for fountain distribution in 1885. When the drink was first served it didn’t have a name so folks would order it by saying, “Shoot me a Waco!” Later Morrison would give the world a name, Dr Pepper.
When an east Texas businessman named S.H. Prim learned that the drink was only available for fountain service he bought the bottling rights and packed up the family and moved to Dublin, Texas in 1891and thus began Dublin’s love affair with Dr Pepper.
The Dublin plant is now the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world. When production first started the average output was fifty cases a day. The story is told that when Dr Pepper added franchise and a distribution territory Prim was given first choice by the wheels in Dallas. Instead of taking a metroplex area (and by definition a fortune) he took a map and a pencil, drew a circle around a 50-mile radius of Dublin, and said simply, “This will do for me.”
Prim passed away in 1946 and left the bottling plant in Dublin to his daughter Grace Lyon. The plant flourished under her tenure and she stayed at the helm until she passed away in 1991, ironically the day the plant celebrated its 100-year anniversary. Since she had no heirs, and she had survived her husband, she left the plant to a loyal employee, William Kloster.
Kloster had started at the plant at the tender age of 14. He began working at a young age to help support his family due to the premature death of his father. He started out as a bottle sorter and made a career out of bottling the drink with a taste as big as Texas. His only real absence from the plant came when he was called to higher duty when he served his country in World War II. Sadly, Kloster left the Dublin plant never to return in 1999 after putting in a full day doing what he had loved for 67 years, but his vision remains. Today his grandson Mark Kloster keeps up with the day-to-day operations.
What is it then that sets apart the Dublin plant from all other soft drink plants except its age? Simple, Dublin still uses 100 percent Imperial pure cane sugar in its drinks and it uses returnable glass bottles. Most people have noticed the slight change in the flavor of soft drinks over the years and there is a reason for this. Every bottling facility out there save one has switched to cheaper imitation corn syrup. Dublin has held true to its roots and in the process developed a following. Besides, when is the last time you could take in returnable bottles for a refill at your local plant?
Taking a trip to the Dublin facility is to pass through one of the most serene and relaxed parts of the Texas countryside. Once there, visitors are greeted by the friendly folks who inhabit Old Doc’s Soda Shop, a vintage soda fountain attached to the bottling facility. Here you can savor all the flavors of the Dublin plant fountain style, and take in the atmosphere. However, the fun is just getting started, because if you take the grand tour you can see the world’s largest collection of vintage Dr Pepper memorabilia and the massive bottling machine itself. If you schedule your tour for the right time you can actually watch the machine in action.
The tour starts with a complimentary sample in a 6 ounce bottle served up from a vintage Dr Pepper vending machine that would make most collectors “green” with envy. You are then treated to a step-by-step explanation of the bottling process from sorting, cleaning, filling, capping, mixing and finally inspection. The machine is a 1937 SEM 320 mixer. It has a capacity of about 100 cases per hour although the machine now only turns out about 300 to 400 cases a week, with bottling taking place on Wednesday mornings. Only returnable bottles are done on site. Dublin’s can and non-returnable bottles are made on their behalf in Temple, but with the same unique formula and pure cane sugar.
The capstone is a look at the museum, which holds all the plant’s Dr Pepper items featuring over 100 years of memories and one-of-a-kind items. William Kloster spent decades amassing one of the greatest collections under one roof, which is now open for all to enjoy. A true sodaphile could spend hours in this room.
Celebrating its 115th year anniversary on the 7th of June, the Dublin Plant is a true Mecca to those who want to see a living breathing part of soda history. It is also the place to go if you want to taste the very best that Texas has to offer. The Dublin Plant can be visited online at http://www.dublindrpepper.com