Dr Pepper shakeup crushes soda fans

A special variant made in Texas halts production after the parent company sues the bottler.

By Kim Peterson Jan 13, 2012 1:07PM
Credit: © LM Otero/AP
Caption: Lined up are some of the last bottles Dr Pepper produced in Dublin, Texas, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. Under an agreement, the Dublin Dr Pepper bottler will end production of the drink that Jeff Kloster's family has been bottling for more than a century"Dublin" Dr Pepper is gone, leaving legions of soda fanatics -- and an entire Texas town -- in shock.

The soda, produced at the tiny Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling plant in Dublin, Texas, has been a cult favorite for years. Fans loved that it was still made from cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. Locals saw the soda as one of the last economic strongholds in a struggling town with a population of just 3,800.

The bottler even added the word "Dublin" to the labels of its Dr Pepper and sold the soda on its website. In retrospect, that may have been its undoing.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), which owns Dr Pepper, sued the plant in June, saying Dublin Dr Pepper was diluting the Dr Pepper brand and hijacking sales from other Dr Pepper bottlers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Diluting the brand? Consider this: The Dublin bottler had sales of $7 million a year. Dr Pepper Snapple Group had sales of $5.6 billion in 2010. And, the Journal reported, Dublin Dr Pepper makes up less than 1% of Dr Pepper's annual U.S. volume.

But those numbers would not sway Dr Pepper Snapple Group. And as the lawsuit headed to a bitter settlement, it became clear that Dublin Dr Pepper would shut down. The world's oldest Dr Pepper bottler has now changed its name to Dublin Bottling Works. It will no longer produce Dr Pepper.

Anything with the Dublin Dr Pepper logo on it is being destroyed, The Dallas Morning news reported. Dr Pepper Snapple Group says the same cane-sugar version will be produced by another bottler in Temple, Texas, but it won't have the special Dublin logo.

And so the region said an emotional goodbye this week to the Dr Pepper that bears the Dublin name and carries so much of the city's legacy. The plant laid off 14 workers. One nearby resident told the Abilene Reporter-News she would never buy Dr Pepper again. "I'm very upset that the parent company didn't realize what they were doing to such an icon," she said. "They took that away, they strong-armed them and took it away."

Others nationwide joined in the outpouring of emotion and anger. "Dear Texas, Go buy all the Dublin Dr Pepper you can, while you can," celebrity chef Alton Brown posted on Twitter. "Then go out and shoot a bottle of Snapple."

The last few bottles of Dublin Dr Pepper have become hot items on eBay (EBAY). One bottle was selling for $22 and had received five bids as of Friday morning.
Tags: DPS
132Comments
Jan 13, 2012 1:33PM
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Yes, it is true that a contractual agreement was being violated.  However, the impact on such a huge corporation as the Dr. Pepper Snapple group was really a nonevent.  At the same time the impact on Dublin, Texas and on a 120 year plus tradition is devastating.  The action by Dr. Pepper Snapple is concrete proof that big corporations don't care about tradition, small town America, the little guy, or even this country.  Their love for the dollar is their only true love.

I will no longer allow Dr. Pepper products in my house.  And as soon as I find out the other products that Dr. Pepper Snapple produces, I will also stop buying them.  And my entire family agrees with me.  They too will stop buying Dr. Pepper Snapple products.  Maybe if enough folks do this, Dr. Pepper Snapple might come to the realization that respect for tradition is more important than the dollar they are so infatuated with.

Jan 13, 2012 3:33PM
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Email sent to Rodger Collins, President of Beverage Division at DPS ( rodger.collins AT dpsg DOT com )

Rodger –

 

Just my opinion, but those "trademark infringers" that you guys just put in their place yielded far more to build brand awareness, goodwill and engender brand loyalty than you will ever reap by appropriating their statistically insignificant novelty product for your own, not to mention, for the capper, putting 14 families out of work (Really?!? In this economy? That’s the angle that will continue to resonate you should be most concerned about.). No need to mention the destruction of the proud traditions of an entire Texas community. (That is the perception and perception IS reality in the tweet-age.). Their top line was $7m. Your investment in spin doctors to polish the tarnish off this story that will not go away will dwarf that and the forfeited annual return to DPSgroup in brand loyalty and goodwill alone I predict will be many times that.  You just attacked the core of your most loyal customers. Who else would spend $10 on a 6 pack of 6oz bottles of Dr. Pepper? I’d be astonished to see the value equation that was used to justify the decision making here.

 

Did the Dubliners screw up and sell outside the lines? I’m sure they did. The actual damages? Couldn’t be more than the benefit to DPSGroup from having them around to sell the brand. Whatever their sins, that angle will simply be lost and ignored. Squashing the bug with a sledgehammer instead of employing the bug to pollinate your crops will be the turn I think you’ll find exceptionally difficult to outrun.

 

That’s DPSGroup’s image as of today. Just heard that WSJ is looking to pick up the story, too. Wow.

 

I use to joke with AA flight attendants that I had to switch airlines when they did not have DP to serve on board. Between the office and home we spend a couple of hundred dollars a month on both DP and Snapple. That regular expenditure has just been de-authorized.

 

Good luck. I think you’re going to need it.


Jan 13, 2012 4:04PM
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This is really just pathetic.  The arguement the article makes is spot on -- This was not diluting the brand.  Infact I think it was augmenting it, by making it more unique.  Now they have:

 

1.  Upset customers

2.  People out of work from a business that was successful (while in a down economy mind you)

3.  A bunch of bad press.

 

Who are they going to sue for that kind of brand dilution and damage to their company's reputation?

 

Greedy, mindless idiots.

Jan 13, 2012 3:18PM
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I want to thank all of you supporting us in dublin, we really appreciate it!!!  I don't work at the plant but love my hometown.  All i can do is cry everytime someone mentions dr. pepper, it is so hard to accept that there will be no more Dublin Dr. Pepper.  My daughter hopefully would have been a 4th generation employee,in another couple years, but now there is no chance.  So, not only does this decision affect our community monetarily and emotionally, for many it affects family traditions.  I had hoped we were in negotiations to mediate an aggrement that would have kept an institution intact, yet allowed the big boys to have their way.  I am grieved for my community and I hope ya'll will keep us all in your prays.  I hope in the longterm we will survive.  There are many other businesses in town who's livelihood depended on the plant so...pray for them all!!!!!Crying

Jan 13, 2012 5:21PM
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I'd say Dr. Pepper would have done better by highlighting this local brand just like a microbrew.
Jan 13, 2012 3:00PM
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Way to go Snapple.  Welcome to consumer revenge!  You'll be going the way of kodak, netflix, BoA and Circuit City.  We the consumer will stand on your neck until we hear

snap  ple!!  Goodbye!

Jan 13, 2012 3:25PM
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As a lifetime Pepper, and a native Texan, I can spak from a background that is intimately familiar w/ the impact that this will have.  To dissolve the Dublin Dr.Pepper, is to take the "homemade" out of homemade Ice Cream, etc.  The purity of the Original recipe is being discarded, b/c Snapple, is not getting their extra 3% in sales. What would consumers  do if the "Colonel's Original Recipe" took some re-vising? The likelihood of that is small, b/c the company recognizes the value of their product.  Snapple has seen the success of the cult icon Dublin, and now they want to slap a new "Corporate Approved" label, and trademark on this product, and they believe they will enjoy the same success or more, b/c they can bring this to their Masses.  Perhaps if they sold a superior product, then they wouldn't be "competing" w/ the small Dublin group.  Regardless, the irony in all of this is that the very success of this "cult phenomenon" is that the ppl who enjoy Dublin, feel included, and enjoy the "select few" label, of people who are in the know.  Snapple is taking this away from these ppl, and that is foolish, b/c these folks are the same folks who are dedicated to Dr.Pepper, even beyond the average consumer.  They love this soda so much that they seek the best version, simply to enjoy the taste. Also, to come into Texas, and to take away the economic feeding trough of small town America, is going to derail any success they might have enjoyed, b/c ppl will boycott the product. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Dr.Pepper; and I will miss it very much, as I cannot agree to silently support the demolition of the Dublin group, by agreeing to buy the corporate offering.  I'm amazed by audacity, and shortsighted knee-jerk reactions of the corporate braintrusts. Can't even enjoy a damn soda anymore.......
Jan 13, 2012 6:01PM
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Simple solution, stop buying Dr Pepper.  I didnt know Snapple owns Dr Pepper or I would never buy it.  Snapple is becoming a greedy company.

 

Mr. Pibb will need to be sampled and evaluated. 

 

 

Jan 13, 2012 3:56PM
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It is a sad day when the big company can kill the small company. One that took a, in comparisom, small amount of the market share. The worst part of the issue is that the big company could care less about a small town and the people who lost their jobs. In times when jopbs are hard to come by Dr. Pepper Snapple group said the heck with you and your jobs we do not want your little Dublin Dr. Pepper taking even 1% of our sales. Instead of embrassing the small bottler and the Dublin Dr. Pepper product and using that to improve the big company they crushed them. I do not know about ya'll I will not buy Dr. Pepper or any product produced by the Dr. Pepper Snapple group products ever again. I do not live in Texas and I never even heard of Dublin Dr. Pepper until I read this today. I am sick and tired of the big companies crushing the smaller company for no real reason and it is time for us to do what we can to stop them. the only way is the hit them in the pocket book to send the message of my or our unhppiness with what they have done. Maybe if enough people do this and they see a drop in sales they will change what they have done and work out a deal with Dublin Dr. Pepper so they can bottle again. Just a thought!
Jan 13, 2012 3:13PM
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Typical BIG business,,,, Screw Snapple!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan 13, 2012 3:46PM
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When Coca Cola changed their formula years back, they said they would never go back, but guess what, with enough public outcry...........they backed down and changed it back.   When the banks were going to charge a fee for debit card use..........guess what, they backed down with enough public outcry........when Netflix was going to split the company into two parts.......they backed down from public outcry....YOU CAN change things.  Make your voice heard, whether it is for Dr. Pepper or animal abuse or any cause, speak out, write emails to companies, to newspapers, to TV stations etc.  If you don't, then don't cry about being run over by companies, or jobs, or the government, or anything else.  SPEAK now or FOREVER hold your peace. 

Jan 13, 2012 4:04PM
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Another case of big business having not a clue what it is actually like to go to work and produce something you're proud of. 
Jan 13, 2012 3:55PM
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I have been drinking Dr. Pepper since I was 6 months old.  The only way, in my opinion, to truly appreciate a Dr. Pepper is to drink it from a bottle.  Everything else is second best & I really don't like it out of the 2-liter bottles....nasty!

 

In years past, I have even been known to mail order bottled Dr. Pepper from the Dublin plant.  Dr. Pepper Snapple..........what you're doing just downright sucks!  You should be ashamed of yourselves putting those poor people out of work and losing a landmark in that town when we're losing so many of them already all across the U.S.!

Jan 13, 2012 3:03PM
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Am I reading this right?  Dr. Pepper has a great marketing opportunity to use with all of the people who like the Dublin product, but would rather punish the factory doing good, instead of having the others improve?  That does not make any business sense at all.
Jan 13, 2012 2:28PM
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I have always been a big fan of Dr Pepper. Not any longer. Nor will I purchase any DR Pepper Snapple products in the future.  Big mistake on the part of the parent company. If something has worked for so long, why mess with it. Prayers for the workers who will be let go.

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I love Dublin Dr Pepper... the sugar taste is great.  The only better DP I have ever had was from a newsstand in London near Trafalgar Square.  I read the label and saw that Dr Pepper had cane sugar.  It was just what a Texan in Europe was needing, aside from tacos and BBQ.  I am upset about the DP/Snap corporation picking on their roots as they have, very upsetting.  They need to focus on improving their product quality and quit using corn syrup for sure.  I have contacted them many times about this.  I hope they get the message someday.
Jan 13, 2012 3:09PM
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I have been a pepper for over 50 yrs.  I do not drink much soda at all these days but when I do, 2-3 times a yr, it was always Dr Pepper.  I will never any Snapple product again.  Some things are not meant to be changed and DP is one of them!!
Jan 13, 2012 5:48PM
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I think it is a pathetic exercise of corporate power for Dr Pepper Snapple group to force the Dublin plant to stop manufacturing the one thing that put them on the map. This was not only a major employer in a small town struggling to survive, it had historical significance as the world's oldest bottler of Dr Pepper. Not only did the tiny Dublin plant NOT take away from the Dr Pepper brand, they actually ENHANCED it!!! The fact that they are allowing the sugar-sweetened version to be produced at their Temple, TX plant just proves my point. They didn't have a problem with the formula, they just wanted to punish the town of Dublin for having the audacity to put their name on the bottles.

 

I hate the aftertaste that corn syrup leaves in my mouth and seek out "throwback" or imported sodas that still use sugar as their sweetener, but I, like so many others, will no longer buy Dr Pepper.

Jan 13, 2012 2:54PM
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This is our chance to cast a vote in the only way corporate America can comprehend- with our wallets- BOYCOTT SNAPPLE!!!!! 
Jan 13, 2012 2:46PM
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Congratulations to Dr Pepper Snapple!  What a great advertising ploy.  Destroy a Company and a Town and the Lives of those people.  Then, produce the very same product at another nearby plant!  Brilliant!  You win!!!  You were able to flex your Corporate might and actually reduce the local tax base and put several people on unemployment.  Fantastic!  What a wonderful way to tell your loyal fans, "We will not stop until we alienate each and every customer we have!"  I will no longer purchase any Dr Pepper Snapple products.  I bow to the absolute power of your ability to ruin your reputation in one foolish act.
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