So who is Dr. Pepper?
When Wade Morrison first began selling his peculiar carbonated soda in a Waco, Texas drugstore in 1885, he was simply following the trend of hundreds of other pharmacies who were using the new fizzy sugary drinks as panacea for a variety of aches and ailments. Coca-Cola, with its original combination of the coca plant and the cola nut, was a relaxant; Moxie fought anxiety and "loss of manhood" 120 years before Viagra; and Sprite was based on the well-known fact that citric acid was a good tonic for stomach cramps.
Okay, but who is Dr. Pepper?
Morrison's assistant Charles Alderton is credited with inventing the drink to complement their new soda jerk. Morrison decided to offer a different breed of a drink; he claimed the new concoction would wake people up (and an extra dose of caffeine did the trick). Soon, customers were coming from miles around, asking the store to shoot them a "Waco." And it wasn't long after that that Morrison decided to bottle the drink and sell it outside of his drugstore. To give it a name not so geographically limiting, he coined it "Dr Pepper."
Umm ... and why did he do that?
Well, two unfounded accounts suggest that the "peppy" nature of the drink led to the medical pun. Another person offered that a person, unaccustomed to the sensation of bubbles on the tongue, claimed it was burning them "like a pepper" (this was in Texas, you know) and the phrase stuck.
Morrison himself offered the real story. He said that one Dr. Pepper of Virginia had given him his first job, and he had repaid the favor by naming his new success story after the man. Further research indicates that the good doctor wasn't just generous with his hiring practices - Morrison also married his daughter! In 1982, this legend was "debunked" by a researcher who found that Dr. Charles T. Pepper of Virginia had a daughter, but she was only 8 when Morrison was going on 30, making the story untrue.
So is there a Dr. Pepper or isn't there?
Well now hold on. In 2001, the owner of the Dublin, Texas Dr Pepper bottling factory hired a researcher to look more into Morrison's claim about the drink's nomenclature. Turns out that there were two Dr. Peppers working in Virginia in 1880 - and the other one had a daughter just one year younger than Morrison. The census also reported that Morrison was working close to this other Dr. Pepper's office. Finally, the mystery had been solved: yes, Virginia, there really is a Dr. Pepper.
And that's ... the rest of the story.