Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wouldn't You Like to Be a Pepper, Too?

Even before the state of Texas adopted me, I had a peculiar passion for one of Texas's most unique exports: Dr Pepper. Remember this? I grew up singing this little ditty.

I really did want to be a Pepper. So bad.

In Scoop to Kill, I paid homage to the nectar of the gods with an arguably strange recipe. The "Pink Pepperberry" milkshake Tally serves at Crystal and Jason's wedding is made with vanilla ice cream, raspberry coulis, and a Dr Pepper reduction. I know it sounds vile, but I promise it's really, really tasty.


While you can make the milkshake with regular Dr Pepper (and I confess to guzzling gallons of the diet variety), there's real magic in Dublin Dr Pepper.

Never heard of it? Let me share ...

In 1885, an employee of the Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, first created the soda fountain syrup that soon became known as "Dr Pepper." In 1891, the owner of the Old Corner Drug Store (Wade Morrison) and his business partner launched the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company. That same year, a man by the name of Sam Houston Prim opened another Dr Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, Texas.

Over the years, the Waco bottling plant grew and spawned a vast Dr Pepper empire. The Dublin plant, on the other hand, remained fairly small and continued on as a family business. In fact, the Dublin plant has never been sold: Prim willed the business to his daughter, Grace Prim Lyon; Mrs. Lyon ran the business until her death on the day of the 100th "birthday" celebration of the plant; she bequeathed the business to long-time employee Bill Kloster (who started working for the plant when he was only 14 years old); and Mr. Kloster willed the business to his son and grandsons.

Apart from the great story behind Dublin Dr Pepper, there's another reason to seek it out. In the 1970s, when most soft drink companies shifted from cane sugar to corn syrup sweeteners, the Dublin Dr Pepper bottling company held its ground. To this day, it is produced using the original formula for Dr Pepper.

If you're planning a trip to Texas, a day trip to Dublin is a great idea. Visit the Dublin Dr Pepper bottling plant in early June to celebrate its birthday or take a tour and grab a pimento cheese sandwich from the Old Doc's Soda Shop; pop over to the Dinosaur Valley State Park to see the preserved tracks or Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to see some live critters; and then stop by Veldhuizen Texas Farmstead to sample freshly made artisanal cheeses.

In Scoop to Kill, Tally touts the wonders of Dublin Dr Pepper ... and somehow, the nice folks at the Dublin bottling plant heard about the book (and the milkshake) and contacted me to say "thank you". They also offered up a couple of additional Dr Pepper recipes, one of which I want to share with you today.  (Click on the recipe title to access a printer-friendly version of the recipe.)

Old Doc's BBQ Sauce

The Dr Pepper people sent this as part of a recipe for rotisserie barbecued chicken.  But, of course, I don't do meat.  I opted to make the sauce and then simmer some seitan shreds in it for "mock pulled pork."  The sauce is piquant and complex and totally addictive.

Seitan shreds simmering in sauce.
3/4 c. Dublin Dr Pepper
(or the "retro" cane sugar variety)
1/4 c. salad oil
1/2 c. catsup
1/4 c. vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce*
1 medium onion (finely chopped)**

Mix all ingredients in a small non-reactive saucepan.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until thickened (about 1 hour).

* Vegetarians:  traditional Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it.  You can get vegetarian varieties at a lot of health food stores, but I've also found that the store brand varieties are sometimes vegetarian.  They're not quite as good, but much cheaper.  Just read the labels.

** Mr. Wendy doesn't like onions, so I made this with a 1/4 tsp. onion powder instead of the fresh onion.  That's why my sauce is smooth.

BBQ seitan sammies with slaw (and corn on the side)


I absolutely love corn on the cob, so we eat it a lot during the summer.  The easiest way to cook perfect corn on the cob?  In the oven!  Preheat the oven to 350.  Leave the corn in the husk, but chop off the long silk tassel and most of the stalk.  Put the corn in the oven (directly on the rack), leaving a little space around each ear, and bake for 30 minutes.  To husk, use a dishtowel to protect your hands and be careful of the steam.  The husks and silk will come off easily because of the steam, but you don't want to burn yourself.  Steaming in the husk keeps the corn bright and flavorful, and it cooks perfectly.  Delicious!


A Parfait Giveaway

In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, I’m giving away a little cowboy couture:  a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a “rodeo queen” keychain.

Eligibility:  This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada.  One entry per person, please.

How to Enter:  Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to  Put the words “Parfait Giveaway” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17.  I will randomly select one entry, announce the winner on MLK on Saturday, June 18, and contact that person via e-mail.  If I do not get a response within 7 days, I’ll draw another name.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. OMG, Wendy! Okay, number one, I'm a Diet DP fanatic myself. And number two, I used to live about 40 miles from Dublin, Texas; and have bought tons of Dublin Dr Pepper. The taste is just fabulous. My family reunion is held each year in Glen Rose, home of Fossil Rim and Dinosaur Valley, and I have a ton of relatives in Stephenville as well. Thanks for the virtual tour of my much missed home state. I think I'll hoist a diet DP in homage.

  2. I had no idea that Texas was the birthplace for Dr. Pepper! What a cool story. I love it, too! And...looks just like pulled pork to me! Nice substitute that I wasn't familiar with at all. And...I usually boil my corn, but you've reminded me that there *is* a better way! Thanks. :)

  3. I haven't seen that commercial in a long time. Thanks for the memories.

    ooh, I never thought to put the corn in the oven. Great idea. Thanks!

    Have a good weekend.

  4. I don't drink too many diet sodas any more, but I was a big Dr. Pepper fan when I was much younger. And now my youngest son loves it too. I loved reading your post. I'm a Texas girl living in my second favorite state (Colorado) and though I love the cooler summers we have here, I find myself getting homesick from time to time. Thanks for giving me a little taste of home. Now if I could just get some bluebonnets to grow here.

  5. You know my feelings on Dr Pepper. Love, love, love it. Have the (sparkly) hat, the T-shirt, the lip balm. Rare is the day it's not in the house.I'm a total addict. Even had Nina Quinn, the sleuth of my first mystery series also addicted to it. BUT, I've never cooked with it. Will have to try it!
    Congrats on the new release! Can't wait to read it!

  6. What a great post, Wendy! But now you've made me hungry for BBQ and it's only 7a.m. (not that the early hour ever stopped me from eating it, there's just none in sight in my kitchen yet!) It's certainly true, the Dublin version tastes much different than regular DP.

    I enjoyed your travel tips about the Dublin area and can vouch for the deliciousness of Veldhuizen cheeses--Two weeks ago a friend brought us a gift basket of Gourmet Texas cheeses, crackers and mayhaw jelly, along with 2 French baguettes. Included was 1/2 lb. of Veldhuizen's Texas Gold Cheddar, and it's fantastically good and tangy!

    Looking forward to reading A PARFAIT MURDER. Have a nice weekend!

  7. I think I had a bad experience with the wrong cough syrup when I was very young, and I've hated anything with even a hint of cherry flavor ever since. But I'm definitely in the minority!

    Barbeque season already? I still have my storm windows up!

  8. I'm drinking a Dr. Pepper right now! I used to live in Austin, TX and before I moved back to WNY I met a friend from Dallas in Waco-you know where we went! Love the Pepper. I am a meat eater and that BBQ recipe sounds delicious-I'll put that on my must make list! Sheila-I still have the storm windows up in my kitchen too!

  9. Thanks for the fascinating history of Dr. Pepper, Wendy. I used to sing the song, too, and I loved David Naughton!

    I make corn on the cob the same way, except on the grill. You do have to watch it since the temperature isn't as even or consistent as in ovens, but now I'm eager to try it inside. The pulled pork recipe with Dr. Pepper sounds delicious, too!

    ~ Krista

  10. What a fabulous history lesson, Wendy! My hubby loves Dr. Pepper. I'm not a fan, but then again, I don't drink much pop anymore, anyway. But I know I'll have that song in my head all day now. Blast from the past!! Thanks for the corn on the cob idea. I've never made it in the oven, but I'm definitely going to give it a try!

  11. Wendy, I'm a Pepper fan, too, and i love baking with Dr. Pepper. I received a Dr. Pepper cookbook way back when and it makes the best chocolate cake, kid you not. Love this barbecue sauce.

    Good luck with Parfait! Can't wait.


  12. So wonderful to see so many Pepper fans out there (Heather, I knew you'd be stoked). For those of you who don't drink the stuff, you might still enjoy cooking with it. I don't know what those 23 flavors are, but they're intriguing.

    Lynn - you stumped me with Mayhaw jelly. Off to do a little research and up my Texas IQ. :)

  13. Oh, SWEET post! I'm a Pepper, too, and I never knew about the Dublin Dr. Pepper. Sugar cane sodas are FANTASTIC compared to corn syrup sodas, a treat that can't be beat, so I'll be looking forward to the day when I can slurp the Dublin doc. Also must chime in on the corn-in-oven idea. Wonderful! I'll be trying that fo' sure.

    Congrats on the new release countdown, and have a very happy Memorial Day!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  14. Love this post Wendy. I am a Pepper too Diet but still a Pepper. I love the recipes and thanks for the tip on the corn I usually boil mine and let TJ cook them on the grill. I forgot all about the oven.


  15. I love Dr. Pepper. Check out Dr. Pepper Chocolate Cake.. part of my retro series on :-)