Hot Dr Pepper was a cool thing in the world of warm winter drinks (1960s)

How Hot Dr Pepper became a cool thing in the world of warm winter drinks (1960s)

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With Coke floats trending as Gen Z re-discovers the delightfulness of a soda and ice cream mashup, we thought they might also be intrigued by  the novelty of this interesting 60s-era soda pop concept: Hot Dr Pepper (with lemon).

You might be surprised to learn that Hot Dr Pepper never really took off back then, but that is certainly not due to a lack of effort from the Dr Pepper Co. They devoted no small amount of their print ad budget to this effort (receipts below).

Too bad they didn’t have social media back then, because if anyone could make hot Dr Pepper happen this holiday season, obviously it would be this generation of TikTok influencers…

The story of Hot Dr Pepper

An executive’s taste test, people’s love for a novelty and a whimsical experiment have given American soft drink consumers another new product — hot Dr Pepper.

Admittedly the idea sounded a bit far-out when it was first conceived. But not to Wesby R. Parker, chairman and president of Dr. Pepper Co. — the man who invented the flavor combination of a thin slice of lemon and heated Dr. Pepper.

Parker, who had been president of Dr. Pepper Co. for little more than a year, hit upon the novel idea of heating Dr. Pepper on a cold Texas winter night some five years ago. He hasn’t regretted it since.

“It just sounded like a good idea,” recalled Parker as he looked over promotional material on hot Dr Pepper for the current winter season. Dr. Pepper will allow a big slice of fourth-quarter advertising budget to special hot Dr. Pepper promotions, and continue to promote the hot drink through the first quarter of 1964.

“In the soft drink industry, you offer the consumer variety, thus giving them a choice. Thanks to hot Dr. Pepper we can add to that choice,” said Parker.

Snowman with hot Dr Pepper 1969

His original recipe for hot Dr. Pepper still stands. Simply heat Dr. Pepper to a simmer in a saucepan, place a thin slice of lemon in a cup, and pour the steaming flavor over the lemon.

“The lemon’s important. It’s not the same without it,” admits Parker.

Once having invented the right combination, Parker was then faced with a selling job to his own company people. “Before they tried it, they all thought that in order for Dr. Pepper to be at its best, it had to be served between 28 and 82 degrees,” recalled Parker.

“Some were even hesitant in trying it hot, and felt it was going against tradition,” he added.

But try it they did, and eyebrows began to arch. “They were as enthusiastic about it as I was after they had tried it,” chuckled Parker.

He says the key to the success of hot Dr. Pepper is in getting people to try it. This explains why the company and its more than 400 bottlers engage in extensive sampling and promotional activities.

“No matter how you look at it, hot Dr. Pepper is a winner,” Parker concluded.

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How to make Hot Dr Pepper: A video how-to

Here’s one of the best things you’ll see today! Back in 2012, an enterprising, but anonymous, adolescent who goes by the handle @matrixslide, uploaded a Hot Dr Pepper preparation demo to YouTube. After which, it became something of a cult classic oft-quoted by its fan base:

YouTube video

But the fun doesn’t end there. In 2022 — on the exact day of his original video’s 10 year anniversary — MatrixSlide recreated the entire thing, starring himself, now as an adult. Overall, we’ve got to say it’s pretty wholesome set of tutorials.

YouTube video

Happy holiday idea: Hot Dr Pepper

Bright as a holiday songfest, Hot Dr Pepper is the proud crowd’s festive way to welcome friends and guests. They like to relax, refresh and enjoy the Dr Pepper difference.

Why not join them? Just heat Dr Pepper or Diet Dr Pepper in a saucepan until steaming hot. Then pour over thin slices of lemon. It’s the happiest holiday idea yet.

Vintage recipe for hot Dr Pepper for winter 1966

Dr Pepper history: How the famous soft drink made a big name for itself

Happy holiday idea: Hot Dr Pepper

For something different — devilishly different for the holidays — try Dr Pepper piping hot. Here’s a bracing, cool weather refreshment that lends a holiday spirit to any occasion…

Hot Dr Pepper - 1960s

ALSO SEE: 17 old-fashioned hot punch recipes for the holidays to warm your winter – including traditional wassail

Happy holiday idea: Hot Dr Pepper

A cup of good cheer — that’s Dr Pepper served hot. It’s deliciously different. Easy to prepare. Just heat Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper in a saucepan until steaming hot. Then pour over a thin slice of lemon. If you’re dreaming of happy holidays, join the proud crowd and enjoy Hot Dr Pepper.

Hot Dr Pepper - 1967

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Comments on this story

4 Responses

  1. Wasn’t there a commercial about a French trapper buying supplies and wanting to drink Dr Pepper hot with lemon over the winter in the mountains. They say something like poor Jacques must be going crazy from the cold

  2. My family grew up drinking hot Dr. Pepper around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), but we used an orange slice. MMMMM!!! Still my favorite winter holiday drink!!!

  3. Tried this at a north/south high school football game in Quanah, Tx in the 60’s. As my grandma used to say, it was colder than a witches t__. there. I could feel the drink going down and warming me up. Loved it!

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