Commentary: Revisionist History of Dr Pepper


If there is one thing I absolutely hate, it’s revisionist history. I don’t care about the purposes for doing it, whether it be because of different sensitivities, marketing angles, or just plain stupidity… there is no reason it should be taking place.

I remember a few years ago when Disney rolled out the film Chicken Little. They were pitching it as their “first computer animated feature film”. After some backlash at that statement — mainly in regards to the mention of the studio’s actual first CGI film, 2000′s Dinosaur, or discussion of the films released under the Pixar relationship — did Disney backpeddle and say that this was their first full-length, all CGI, all in-house film. Lots of disclaimers there, but their original intent was the same… to rewrite their history in CGI filmmaking. (After all, Dinosaur was a huge flop!)

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper

The 4th Dr Pepper Flavor Extension

I was reminded of that situation this morning when I read a press release from Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, the parent company of the Dr Pepper brand. The release was discussing their latest line extension, Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper. What caught my eye were these claims:

This month, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages is rolling out Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper, the third flavor extension in the brand’s history.

Dr Pepper’s first brand extension, Cherry Vanilla, launched in 2004 and was the company’s most successful product introduction in more than a decade

So what’s wrong with these claims? Maybe that they are, in fact, wrong!

Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper

The 2nd Dr Pepper Flavor Extension

Dr Pepper Berries & Cream

The 3rd Dr Pepper Flavor Extension

Yes, it’s true that Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper did pretty well, especially its diet variant. Dr Pepper Berries & Cream also has its fans, though is nowhere near as successful at Cherry Vanilla. But Cherry Vanilla was not the first Dr Pepper flavor extension.

Red Fusion

The 1st Dr Pepper Flavor Extension

That honor goes to 2002′s Red Fusion, a drink that the folks at Cadbury Schweppes probably want you to forget about. But as seen in this press release from May 2002, it really was the first:

When it is introduced to the American public in mid-July, Red Fusion will become the first new flavor addition to the Dr Pepper line-up in its 117-year history…

Red Fusion wasn’t a bad drink. I kinda liked it. But it didn’t go far enough when it came to adding flavor to Dr Pepper. Plus, it was poorly marketed, not really playing off the Dr Pepper name much. It was initially rolled out as a standalone brand, with only a little Dr Pepper logo featured on the packaging. It was discontinued in 2004 and faded from memory.

So I’d like to call out Cadbury Schweppes and their claim that Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper is the 3rd flavor extension of Dr Pepper. It’s not. It’s the 4th. Get your facts straight!

For those interested, here’s the recent press release that prompted this commentary…

Dr Pepper Fans Give Thanks for New Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper

DALLAS, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — This Thanksgiving, consumers are lining up for more than the latest electronics gadgets and Christmas gifts. They’re packing their carts with Dr Pepper’s newest offering: Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper.

This month, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages is rolling out Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper, the third flavor extension in the brand’s history. There’s nothing diet about this delicious treat, which combines the great taste of Diet Dr Pepper with a sweet cherry dipped in luscious chocolate.

“Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper is the perfect indulgence for the holidays … zero calories, zero carbs, zero guilt, and all the flavor of Dr Pepper,” said Andrew Springate, vice president of marketing for CSAB. “Based on consumer response, we expect Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper will have a strong and devoted following.”

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper is only available for a limited time. Dr Pepper’s first brand extension, Cherry Vanilla, launched in 2004 and was the company’s most successful product introduction in more than a decade, and was followed by the wildly popular Dr Pepper Berries & Cream.

Dr Pepper is a leading brand in the beverage portfolio of Plano, Texas- based Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages (CSAB), a subsidiary division of Cadbury Schweppes plc (NYSE: CSG). CSAB is one of the largest producers of teas, juices and soft drinks in the Americas with a brand portfolio that includes Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, Mott’s Apple Juice, RC Cola, A&W Root Beer, Sunkist, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Schweppes, Diet Rite, Clamato, Mr & Mrs T’s Mixers, Rose’s, Mistic, Yoo-hoo, Orangina, IBC, Stewart’s, Nantucket Nectars and other well-known consumer brands. For additional information, visit http://www.cadburyschweppes.com/csab.

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