Is Dr Pepper A Cola?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: August 24, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

There are tons of carbonated soft drinks that you can find nowadays. However, only a few are as popular as Dr Pepper. Launched in 1885, Dr. Pepper revolutionized the soft drink industry as it was made with 23 flavors

Originating from Waco, Texas, a pharmacist named Charles Alderton invented the formula and recipe for Dr Pepper. After experimenting with various combinations, Alderton was eventually able to compose the final formula for this carbonated soft drink. 

As the demand for this soft drink grew, the drug store owner, Wade Morrison, paired with Robert Lazenby, a beverage chemist, to open the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company in 1891. This company eventually became known as the Dr. Pepper Company in 1904. 

Despite its newfound success, the arrival of Coca-Cola in 1892 soon overshadowed Dr. Pepper, and coca-cola became the leading carbonated soft drink in the market. 

Because of the domination of Coca-Cola in the beverage industry, consumers started considering Dr. Pepper a type of Cola—but is that the truth? 

Is Dr Pepper A Cola?

is dr pepper a cola

Dr Pepper is not a Cola. In reality, Dr. Pepper uses a unique combination of flavors different from the ones used in Coke. Most importantly, Dr Pepper does not have the extracts of the cola nut. 

The cola extract is used in Pepsi and Coke, although they have started using artificial flavors to replicate the taste. On the other hand, Dr Pepper has never used the cola extract in their products. 

The difference between Dr Pepper and Coke is so broad that in 1963, A federal court ruled that Dr Pepper is not Cola as it’s made of vastly different and unique flavors. 

Many people claim that for a drink to be considered a cola, it needs to have three ingredients: sugar, flavoring, and carbonated water. While Dr Pepper does have all three elements, it has a lower amount of sugar and a higher amount of caffeine. 

Dr Pepper Vs Cola

Coca-Cola has a very explosive and sometimes burning taste because of the caustic fizz it produces. On the other hand, Dr Pepper’s flavor profile is far more subtle. The blend of multiple flavors in Dr Pepper leaves a strange yet refreshing aftertaste in one’s mouth. 

Dr Pepper is far less acidic than Coca-Cola and therefore less bitter. You might have even come across numerous DIY cleaning solutions that contain Coca-Cola. Because of its high acidity, coke is commonly used to eliminate rust and clean pavements. 

The high acid levels found in Coke are obviously dangerous for your health; it increases the risk of type-2 diabetes, excess fat, and the chances of heart disease.

The amount of caffeine in Dr Pepper is higher than what you find in Coca-Cola. For example, the serving size of 16 fl oz Coke contains 45mg of caffeine, whereas the same serving size of Dr Pepper contains 55mg of caffeine. 

In fact, Dr Pepper contains higher caffeine than most soft drink brands, including Pepsi and MTN Dew. A high amount of caffeine can make you more alert and is beneficial to your health as it reduces the risk of heart diseases.

Initially, Dr Pepper was advertised as a brain tonic, and it was widely rumored that this beverage restores energy and vitalizes a person. So it was no surprise when pharmacies started to sell this product. Since then, however, it has been proved that Dr Pepper has no health benefits, and the only magic it produces is in one’s mouth. 

Dr Pepper Vs. Mr. Pibb

Dr Pepper Vs. Mr. Pibb

You might have come across multiple people who claim that Dr Pepper and Mr. Pibb have identical flavor profiles. While that is undoubtedly true, there are a few key differences between both carbonated beverages. 

Coca-Cola launched Mr. Pibb in 1972 to compete against the rising popularity of Dr Pepper. Though this beverage’s original name was Peppo, Coca-Cola had to rename it after Dr Pepper decided to sue them because the name was quite similar to theirs. 

Coca-Cola changed the name once again in 2001 to Pibb Xtra after the company altered the recipe. 

Coca-Cola considers the latest version of Mr. Pibb to be intense in flavor. It’s marketed as a spicier, cherry substitute for regular cola. The cherry flavor makes this soft drink comparable to Dr Pepper. 

However, there’s no competition between the two beverages. 

While Dr Pepper is available almost all over the world, Mr. Pibb hasn’t been able to find a stable market for itself, as it is available only in the United States. 

What Exactly Does Dr Pepper Taste Like?

What Exactly Does Dr Pepper Taste Like?

Trying to define a particular taste for Dr Pepper is quite challenging. The reason it’s so difficult to define a taste for Dr Pepper is because of its multiple flavors, each playing a substantial role in the drink. Dr Pepper does not taste like a Coke or an average fruit-flavored beverage. 

Most people agree that Dr Pepper has an intense and bold flavor. In addition, the beverage can range from having a peppery to a minty flavor profile. Some even say that it has a trace of licorice. 

A reporter who asked what Dr Pepper tastes like on his Twitter got some fascinating answers, where a follower even said it tastes like “cigarettes and spice.”

Some of Dr Pepper’s most famous soda flavors are Cream Soda, Vanilla Float, Cherry Vanilla, and Cream Soda Zero. 

The ingredients of Dr Pepper have been secretly guarded ever since its inception. This created a lot of speculation among consumers. Some speculators thought that Dr Pepper’s main ingredient was prune juice. 

This rumor gained so much traction over the next few years that Dr Pepper had to clarify on their website that the beverage does not contain prune juice.

Many people even compare the taste of Dr Pepper to root beer. Although it has a flavor profile that resembles a root beer, the beverage cannot be considered a root beer as it does not contain the bark of a sassafras tree. 

Where Did The Name “Dr Pepper” Come From?

Where Did The Name “Dr Pepper” Come From?

Initially, Dr Pepper went by the term ‘Waco’, as it was created in Waco, Texas. The beverage didn’t even have a name for a long time—that is, until the drugstore owner, Wade Morrison, launched the company and named the product ‘Dr Pepper.’

While no one really knows how the name ‘Dr Pepper’ was coined, several theories give us a good idea about how it originated. 

The most famous theory suggests that Morrison named the beverage in honor of his late friend, Dr. Charles Pepper. 

Other theories are more technical. For example, some ideas suggest that the name was inspired by pepsin, an enzyme produced in the stomach responsible for the breakdown of proteins. 


Dr Pepper cannot be considered a cola. It’s not even a cola product. Plus, even those drinking both beverages the first time can tell the difference due to their vastly different flavor profiles. 

Few drinks offer a flavor as unique and distinct as Dr Pepper. Thus, it’s no surprise that this beverage has been a cult favorite since its inception. The massive combination of 23 flavors makes this beverage’s taste almost unforgettable. 

Though it might taste like a herbal syrup to some people, Dr Pepper is definitely worth giving a shot!