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Dr Pepper: 7 Best Flavors & 3 Alternatives

Dr Pepper: Fans have loved the well-known American soft drink since it was first introduced in the 1880s. In this article we’ll cover some of the most popular Dr Pepper varieties, as well as what the original Dr Pepper is, and what the famous 23 flavors in it actually may be. 

Some people love Dr Pepper and others just don’t understand the hype or what flavor it’s supposed to be. If you’re in the latter category, you’ve probably just not tried the right kind of Dr Pepper yet. There are 23 flavors in regular Dr Pepper alone, but did you know that you can get different varieties as well?

The Dr Pepper brand has introduced a range of flavors over the years. None are quite as popular as the original, which is known worldwide for its unique taste and somewhat retro can design. Some are definitely unique though, and there are fan favorites that will surprise you (Cherry Chocolate anyone?). 

Interesting Facts about Dr Pepper

Interesting Facts about Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper has been around since the 1880s, meaning there are plenty of interesting and fun facts about the beverage and brand.

For a start, we probably all know that nobody can be quite certain what flavor Dr Pepper actually is. It’s made of 23 different ‘secret’ flavors (much like KFC’s 11 herbs and spices), and nobody knows exactly what these are.

It’s frequently grouped with other cola-style drinks, but it’s actually not a cola at all. You’ll find out more about ‘what’ Dr Pepper actually is in the section below, but let’s just say that it’s paved the way for its very own category.

In the 70s and 80s Dr Pepper actually had a fairly famous jingle to advertise its products: ‘I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?’ It was quite the ‘thing.’

The early 20th century saw another famous Dr Pepper advertising campaign, this time suggesting that you ‘drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4.’ This suggested that Dr Pepper would boost your energy, hence being helpful when drunk at those times of day.

Dr Pepper’s appeared in many famous TV shows, movies, and even songs.

What Dr Pepper Is

What Dr Pepper Is

Dr Pepper is a unique sparkling beverage with its completely own category.

It’s been ruled by the American Food and Drug Administration that it’s neither a root beer, a cola, or a fruit-flavored soda. Instead, Dr Pepper is actually called a ‘pepper soda’, with the name being derived from the brand itself.

The name itself actually has nothing to do with pepper and instead comes from a Dr Charles Pepper.

Wade Morrison, the drug store owner who first tasted Dr Pepper was said to be in love with a girl whose father was called Dr Pepper. Hence, the name was born.

Origin of Dr Pepper

Origin of Dr Pepper

This brings us to the ‘legend’ that is Dr Pepper, despite it being a true story after all: A Brooklyn-born pharmacist by the name of Charles Alderton first created Dr Pepper at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Texas.

After letting the owner, Wade Morrison, have a taste, it was mutually agreed that the drink was likable. They soon began selling it and Alderton gave his recipe to Morrison, who came up with the Dr Pepper name.

What Are the Famous 23 Flavors of Dr Pepper?

What Are the Famous 23 Flavors of Dr Pepper?

The short answer is, nobody really knows. It’s a trade secret, much like the ingredients of Coca Cola. Die-hard fans of Dr Pepper have narrowed it down to the following, however:

  • vanilla
  • tomato
  • raspberry
  • rum
  • root beer
  • pepper
  • plum
  • prune
  • orange
  • nutmeg
  • molasses
  • lemon
  • juniper
  • ginger
  • cola
  • cherry
  • clove
  • carrot
  • caramel
  • black licorice
  • blackberry
  • almond
  • amaretto

As far as we’re concerned, that sounds a little bit like someone accidentally mixed up the entire contents of their fridge, but whatever works.

The Best Dr Pepper Flavors Ranked

The Best Dr Pepper Flavors Ranked

Most fans will always pick the original Dr Pepper when it comes to favorite flavor variations. With that said, there have been other popular ones over the years. Below is a list of the top ones Dr Pepper fans can’t seem to get enough of. If you haven’t tried these yet, what’s stopping you?

Original Dr Pepper

Original Dr Pepper

Depending on who you ask, the original soda tastes like marzipan, like coke mixed with cough medicine, like cherries, like spicy coca cola… the list goes on.

Needless to say it is one of the top sodas in America, with an 8.2% market share as of 2022. This makes it the fourth most popular carbonated soft drink sold in the US.

Top tip: There is also a ‘Made with Sugar’ variety of the original, which tastes richer and, well, more sugary. This makes it another firm favorite and offers a great alternative to the regular variety.

Dark Berry

Farmer working and picking blueberries on a organic farm - modern business concept.

Dark Berry

This comes in a regular and a Zero Sugar variety and it appears to be one of Dr Pepper’s most popular sodas.

The sad news is that it’s not currently available, but with so much hype about the flavor they’ll surely bring it back again at some point.

If you enjoy berry-flavored beverages you’re sure to like this one for its fruity, blueberry cheesecake-ish vibes.

Cream Soda

Cream Soda

Dr Pepper’s ‘Dr Pepper & Cream Soda’ drink is a firm fan favorite out there. It’s got a lovely touch of vanilla which, if you ever had a vanilla coca cola, you’ll definitely know and love.

People describe it as tasting like Dr Pepper with a creamy vanilla aftertaste.

Best of all, there’s a Zero Sugar variety available for those who need to watch their sugar intake.

Top tip: if you can’t get a hold of this one, buy some French vanilla syrup instead and add a bit to regular Dr Pepper.

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

The fourth most popular flavor in our lineup comes as no surprise at all, seeing as it’s more or less a combination of the second two.

Fans love this flavor for its strawberry shortcake-like taste. It’s sweet but not overpoweringly so.

What makes this such a great soda is the strawberry flavor, which tastes much more like natural strawberries than these types of drinks ordinarily do.

Cherry Vanilla

Cherry Vanilla

Cherry Vanilla is another firm favorite amongst Dr Pepper fans.

It has a more emphasized cherry flavor with the sweetness of vanilla that seems to work so well in other top flavors.

Cherry flavors do tend to divide people, so if you generally don’t like cherry flavors you may wish to skip this one. With that said this variety works perfectly in an ice cream float.

Real Sugar

Real Sugar

We mention this twice in this article, but it really is very good. The usage of real cane sugar as opposed to artificial sweeteners makes this a delicious variety.

It tastes just like regular Dr Pepper but with more oomph, somehow, and doesn’t have that lingering aftertaste sweeteners sometimes have.

This one definitely comes highly recommended and for good reason.

Cherry Chocolate

Cherry Chocolate

This one sounds as weird as it probably tasted. We can’t say for sure as it was a limited edition flavor that’s long been discontinued.

Fans who did have this back in the day still rave about how good it was.

The chocolate cherry combo made it a real treat and was probably extra delicious when paired with ice cream in a tasty ice cream float.

Worst Dr Pepper Flavors

Worst Dr Pepper Flavors

No other drink is quite as divisive as Dr Pepper. It seems to be the marmite of soft drinks, with people either loving or abject hating the famous drink.

As such, there’s really only one flavor that deserves to be on the list of the worst Dr Pepper flavors… you guessed it, the original one.

Original Dr Pepper

Original Dr Pepper

Original Dr Pepper with its 23 unique flavors is a drink people either love or loathe.

Many rants have been written on the internet decrying just how bad Dr Pepper tastes (to some). People have likened it to medicine, to battery acid, BBQ, over-carbonated root beer, and general pharmacy smell.

Essentially, you need to try it to see which camp you fit into.

The Original Dr Pepper Flavors

The Original Dr Pepper Flavors

As far as Dr Pepper is concerned, there was really only ever one original flavor. This original was first created in 1885, with a diet variety following in 1962, and caffeine free diet Dr Pepper being launched in the 1980s. As such, the only true ‘original’ is the Original Dr Pepper.

Original Dr Pepper

Original Dr Pepper

The original Dr Pepper flavor was originated by Charles Alderton, as mentioned before. Some say the formula for the exact ingredients is so secret that two halves are kept in two separate banks in Dallas. Whatever the case of the origin myth that is Dr Pepper, the original formula is still very popular today.

Types of Drinks You Can Get At Dr Pepper

Types of Drinks You Can Get At Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper makes a variety of tasty soft drinks, from their original flavor drinks to other flavored ranges. Below are the main categories of Dr Pepper drinks you may find at your supermarket. We’ll also delve into what makes these different.

Regular Varieties

Regular Varieties

Regular Dr Pepper varieties are made with sugar as well as the sweeteners acesulfame K and aspartame. If you don’t love the taste of sweeteners, you’ll want to look out for the ‘real sugar’ Dr Pepper instead.

Zero Sugar and Diet Drinks

Zero Sugar and Diet Drinks

Dr Pepper makes both Diet drinks and their Zero Sugar varieties. The Diet Dr Pepper is sweetened with just aspartame, while Dr Pepper Zero Sugar sodas are crafted with both aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

The aim is to create a more ‘syrupy’ and authentic flavor of Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper with Real Sugar

Dr Pepper with Real Sugar

This special Dr Pepper soda is made with ‘imperial pure cane sugar’, which lends more sweetness and a richer, more flavorful taste to the regular Dr Pepper. The green can looks a little retro, so it’s a fun one to buy for that alone if you’ve never tasted it.

Tasty Alternatives to Dr Pepper

Tasty Alternatives to Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper is fairly unique when it comes to soft drinks, with few other sodas out there tasting the same or similar.

With that said, there are some alternatives that come reasonably close.

Here we list some of the best Dr Pepper substitutes, including a (kind of) healthier alternative that might surprise you.

Mr Pibb or Pibb Xtra

Mr Pibb or Pibb Xtra

This rather strange concoction was created by the Coca Cola Company to rival Dr Pepper.

Fun fact: this drink was originally introduced to consumers as ‘Peppo’, and Dr Pepper sued for trademark infringement. Coca Cola even went as far as testing the original drink in Waco, Texas, where Dr Pepper was first created.

Nevertheless, as of 2001 the flavor of this soda is described as a sort of ‘spiced cherry’ with cinnamon flavor, which some say is a little (or a lot) like Dr Pepper. Fans do find this drink a little sweeter.

MacFuddy’s Pepper Elixir

MacFuddy’s Pepper Elixir

MacFuddy is another alternative that some fans recommend as an alternative to Dr Pepper.

It’s described as having a fruity flavor and a slightly spicy pepper note to finish. Some say it tastes like a cross between RC Cola and Dr Pepper. We think this one’s best enjoyed ice cold given the stronger hints of spice.

Black Cherry Seltzer

Black Cherry Seltzer

There are a range of cherry-flavored seltzers out there, but White Claw probably does this one best.

Their Black Cherry Hard Seltzer combines dark, juicy cherry flavors with the kick of alcohol, making it a very different but also similar alternative to Dr Pepper.

Minus the alcohol, this is actually reasonably healthy given its natural ingredients of carbonated water, alcohol, natural flavoring, cane sugar, citric acid, natural cherry juice concentrate, and sodium citrate.

Top tip: if you don’t want a boozy seltzer, make your own healthy variety at home by mixing 2-3 fresh, pitted cherries, fizzy water, and ice. No, this won’t exactly taste like Dr Pepper, but it’ll be a refreshing alternative for summer time.

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