One of a Kind Fan Sees How Dr Pepper is Made
We grow up reading about wishes in fairy tales – making a wish upon a star or having a genie from a bottle grant three wishes – but sometimes a wish can be granted in real life too, and the impact can spread hope, love and maybe a little magic far beyond what you can imagine.
Meet Jeffrey Yaws, a 25-year-old Texas native with a witty personality and infectious smile. A self-proclaimed diehard Dr Pepper fan, Jeffrey loves the 23 flavors of everyone’s favorite pepper and collects Dr Pepper memorabilia and merchandise, which he uses to decorate his room.
“As a baby, Jeffrey always got hungry at 10, 2 and 4,” said Jeffrey’s mom. “It’s like he was born to drink Dr Pepper.”
Jeffrey also has Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disorder in which the body produces an insufficient amount of the enzyme needed to break down complex sugars.
Jeffrey has endured and fought through 352 surgeries in his life, but his condition has continued to worsen. When asked what he wanted the opportunity to do, Jeffrey said, “I want to see how Dr Pepper is made … and go to the aquarium.”
“We were humbled by Jeffrey’s request,” said Ryan Smith, director of human resources for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Irving plant. “And while we didn’t have the keys to the aquarium, we did have the magic wand to make Jeffrey’s Dr Pepper wish come true.”
On Friday, Nov. 15, Jeffrey and his parents arrived at Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s headquarters in Plano to a swell of fanfare from DPS employees cheering and chanting his name. The reception brought tears to Jeffrey’s mother’s eyes, and the emotion spread through the crowd as Jeffrey made his way to the research and development center.
David Thomas, DPS’s executive vice president of research and development, showed Jeffrey the ins and outs of making Dr Pepper, including a sniff through the sensory lab and a few taste tests along the way, but stopping short of revealing the recipe of the 23 flavors.
“When I go into the lab, will I turn into Dr Pepper Man like what happened to Spider Man?” joked Jeffrey after he was suited up in his personalized lab coat.
The Dr Pepper marketing team made sure that Jeffrey would be decked out in Dr Pepper gear, donating Dr Pepper-branded clothing, hats, cups and koozies, and even collecting some signed merchandise from local sports teams, including a Dallas Stars signed jersey, a Dallas Mavericks signed jersey and Dallas Cowboys autographed helmet.
But that was only part one – we wanted Jeffrey to get to see the whole process, including how Dr Pepper ends up in the cans and bottles that he loves. For part two, Jeffrey headed over to the DPS Irving plant, one of our largest company-owned, Dr Pepper-producing plants. From canning and bottling to concentrate mixing and packaging, employees in Irving took Jeffrey through the various processes to make Dr Pepper available for him to enjoy.
“This is a whole lot of work just for my Dr Pepper,” remarked Jeffrey during the tour.
“Jeffrey’s passion for the brand and visit to the plant helped to remind us of what we do,” said Phil Forte, Irving plant manager. “But his determination and positive attitude helps remind us of how to live.”
“We may have helped make Jeffrey’s wish come true, but he brought us together and helped remind us who we are as an organization,” said Lain Hancock, executive vice president of human resources. “For that, and so much more, we are grateful that Jeffrey chose to visit us.”
So thank you, Jeffrey, and keep on wishing, because to us, you truly are one of a kind.