“No Mice, No Flies, No Caffeine, No Cocaine” — 1911
by Paula Bosse
Dallas did not become the official home of Dr Pepper until the summer of 1923, when Dallas banker S. W. Sibley acquired the bankrupt Circle-A Corporation (a Waco manufacturer of soft drinks, including Dr Pepper) for $264,500 — this bought him formulas, trademarks, and the company’s three plants (in Waco, St. Louis, and Dallas). The headquarters was promptly moved to Dallas.
But 12 years earlier, the ad above — from the March 19, 1911 edition of The Dallas Morning News — caught my eye. Here’s the text:
DRINK DR. PEPPER
FREE FROM CAFFEINE AND COCAINE
BUMBLEBEES, FLIES, MICE, etc.
See Waco Times-Herald, March 17, for Report of Governance Trial of Caffeine Beverages, now going on at Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Home of Dr. Pepper is the Most Sanitary Factory in America. We Invite Inspection by City, State or National Inspectors, or the General Public.
No Mice — No Flies — No Caffeine — No Cocaine.
Come and see.
DR. PEPPER CO.
Yes, at the time U.S. food manufacturers — in response to the Pure Food and Drug Act — went out of their way to tout their products as being “pure” and their super-sanitary factories as being so sparklingly clean you could eat off the floor without fear of contamination… but having the words “no mice, no flies” in an advertisement seems to be going an extra mile that didn’t need to be taken. This ad was in response to a newsworthy trial which had just begun in Chattanooga in which the United States was suing the Coca Cola company for what they felt was deceptive labeling and its use of possibly “injurious” amounts of caffeine, etc. (Coke won.) The trial was something of a sensation, and I’m sure DP was all about nipping any collateral damage in the bud before anyone started wondering about their product, “the pure food beverage”:
Dallas Morning News, July 9, 1911
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 26, 1911
“Free from Caffeine and Cocaine — and always has been.” (No mention of always having been free of vermin and insects….)
No bumblebees here, bud. Nothing to see. Move along.
Sources & Notes
Sources of ads noted above.
Dr Pepper logo (which was used from 1911 to 1934) found here.
Read about the trial — which was officially “The United States vs. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca Cola” — in a Time magazine article here.
More Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas’ favorite fizzy hometown concoction can be found here.
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