Dr Pepper Snapple Group's Founding Flavors: Vernors
Without the Civil War, there would be no Vernors. Before the conflict began, James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist, had concocted a new drink. When Vernor was called off to war in 1862, he stored the secret mixture in an oak cask in his pharmacy. After returning from battle four years later, he opened his secret keg and found the drink inside had taken on a zippy, zesty, gingery flavor. It was like nothing else he had ever tasted.
It was Vernors.
For years, the only place one could buy a Vernors was from the fountain in James Vernor's pharmacy at 233 Woodward Ave in downtown Detroit. But demand for the drink continued to grow. Soon, soda fountains throughout the city began selling cold, carbonated Vernors.
Vernor kept an ever-watchful eye on the vendors. When it came to maintaining the quality of his drink, he was a fanatic. Vernor's personal scrapbook from the time contains many of the pamphlets he sent to soda fountain owners. Those pamphlets laid down the law on how Vernors should and should not be served.
This quality control helped build a loyal clientele for Vernors Ginger Soda. Vernor also worked with soft drink manufacturers to make their dispensing machines more practical and affordable.
By 1896, the blossoming popularity of his drink led Vernor to establish his own soda fountain store. In the years that followed, Vernors became available in such distant cities as Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland and Niagara Falls. The continuing expansion into other markets was both deliberate and methodical as Vernor wanted to be absolutely sure the consistency of his drink would be maintained before he granted any bottler licenses.
A soda fountain owner who wrote to Vernor in 1898 noted that the ginger soda had acquired an enthusiastic following in his city. "Its purity, delicacy of flavor and great refreshing powers have been testified to by thousands of our soda customers," the bottler wrote.
The zesty ginger taste of Vernors remains popular to this day, nearly 160 years later.