dublin texas

Dublin Dr Pepper: another piece of America lost

Last week one of my favorite sodas ceased production forever, “Dublin Dr Pepper”.  For those not familiar, DDP was a glass-bottled version of Dr Pepper made with the original cane sugar recipe (not the corn syrup that’s infiltrated most American sodas since the 1980s).  It was produced in a bottling plant in the small central Texas town of Dublin (population approx 3700) in the oldest existing plant to be in continuous production of the soda.  How long is that, you ask?  One hundred and twenty years.  Most of the equipment DDP was produced on dates back to the 1930s.

“It’s a soda, what’s the big deal?”, you ask.  A lot of things, actually.  They didn’t go out of business, rather Dublin Bottling Works was forced to cease production of the soda after legal action was taken against them by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group corporation.  This action cost fourteen people their jobs, and is a major blow to the economy of the entire town which is largely based on the bottling plant and accompanying tourism.  The reason?  Supposedly Dublin Dr Pepper was a “threat” to the brand, with their independent bottling rights dating back to the 1800s and superior product.  While it accounted for less than 1% of the corporation’s annual sales, it has fans around the world, myself included.  I have many fond memories of drinking it on tour in Texas and at home in Los Angeles, acquiring it from specialty soda retailers.  Many other companies have figured out how to extend the glow from a premium product to the rest of their line, why not here?  Instead of viewing it as the asset that it is, it’s been snuffed out.

This isn’t just about a soda, it’s about everything that’s wrong with this country and the path we’ve taken in recent decades.  Those familiar with my music in Tiger Army or as a solo artist know that I have seldom spoken on any social issue in the past decade-plus, but this situation makes me sick.  It’s about American craftsmanship and know-how.  It’s about respect for history and tradition.  And it’s about corporations failing to do the right thing by the American worker.

How many things are still produced in their purest form in this day and age, and how many more can we afford to lose before there’s nothing left of what we once were?  The United States was a place where we made things of beauty: everyday products were routinely produced with care and attention to detail almost unheard of today.  Things like design and quality of materials or ingredients took precedence over wringing a few pennies from the bottom line.  Like many of the beautiful old buildings and landmarks that are torn down yearly and replaced with modern prefabricated garbage, these small bottles and their contents are works of American art.  It’s time to start cherishing the few things that survive from this vanished era and stop discarding or trying to change them.

The parent corporation says the soda will continue to be produced sans the “Dublin” name in another factory.  And they say it will be the same, but I don’t believe it.  It won’t be the same for the fourteen people who’ve lost their jobs or their families, and it won’t contain the same one hundred and twenty years of collective know-how.  It won’t be long before the corporate neglect that has eaten away at so many other things taints whatever replacement version that will supposedly be produced.

I would encourage everyone who cares about the preservation of history or the American worker to sign the online petition below.  I personally will never purchase or consume another product from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group ever again, for their shameful treatment of the people of Dublin, Texas and their own companies’ history, until such time that they remedy the situation.  Thanks for reading, Nick 13