Over the years, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) has enjoyed great success with brands that fans far and wide know and love. Brands including Dr Pepper, Snapple, A&W, Canada Dry and 7UP are household names across the U.S., but each one has a birthplace and a story that connects it to its hometown.
But there are a number of brands in our portfolio that don’t have the broad geographic reach of their more “national” siblings, yet they’re flavors that fans in regional pockets of the country just can’t do without. Vernors, RC Cola, Nehi, Cactus Cooler and Canfield’s are just a few of those regional “flavorites” that have become woven into the very fabric of the communities where they were born or long ago embraced.
Vernors in 2016 marked 150 years since its namesake, James Vernor, began marketing a distinctly different ginger soda in Detroit. Vernor, a local pharmacist, had concocted a new drink, which he had stored in an oak cask in his pharmacy for four years while he served in the Civil War. After returning from battle four years later, he opened his secret keg and found the drink inside had taken on a zippy and zesty flavor that won over locals in Detroit and gradually consumers in other parts of Michigan and the Great Lakes area. To this day, the brand remains one of the top selling non-cola brands in the state of Michigan.
RC Cola originated in the basement of Hatcher Grocery Company in 1905 in Columbus, Ga., when pharmacist, Claud A. Hatcher, decided to supply his family's grocery store with drinks that he produced and bottled himself. Hatcher called his first line of beverages "Royal Crown,” and his first cola product, "Chero-Cola." Chero-Cola quickly gained traction in Georgia, and it wasn’t long before the rest of the South was swept away as well. The cola went through several name changes before finally landing on "Royal Crown Cola,” but despite those changes, the drink itself has maintained its greatest popularity in the Mid-South.
Not only did Hatcher introduce RC Cola, but he is also responsible for crafting the flavorful Nehi, which he introduced in 1924. This line of fruit-flavored sodas became extremely popular in the Deep South in the late ‘20s and remains popular still today.
Although many soft drinks like RC and Nehi were invented by experimenting pharmacists, some come from a more imaginative place—cartoons. Cactus Cooler was inspired by Fred Flinstone’s favorite drink on the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. This sweet mix of pineapple and orange flavors is a favorite in Southern California, Arizona and other places scattered throughout the Southwest – naturally, where cacti grow.
And if you’re in the Windy City, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon a can of chocolate bliss. Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge soda was created in 1972 in Chicago by an executive at the A.J. Canfield Company who hoped that a zero-calorie fudge soda might remedy his chocolate cravings and serve as a diet aid. In 1985 the company saw a spike in popularity after an article was released by a renowned Chicago columnist beaming of the chocolate beverage. The drink has remained a sweet treat in Illinois and several other Midwest states ever since.
DPS owns or distributes many other well-loved regional brands—from Big Red in Texas and Sun Drop in the Carolinas to Stewart’s in the Northeast—and Nantucket Nectars in New England. Each contributes to the cultural identity, pride and flavor of their hometowns and regions—and each is part of a family of brands that have cemented DPS’s position as The Leader in Flavors.