Pepsi’s Long Reign as America’s No. 2 Soda Just Ended

A taste of Texas has come a long way and has now shoved Pepsi aside to be the No. 2 soda in America.

According to Beverage Digest data, Dr Pepper has inched its way into the second-place spot long held by Pepsi, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The giant of the industry remains Coke, which had a 19.18 percent market share in 2023, according to the report. But Dr Pepper had an 8.34 percent market share, edging Pepsi’s 8.31 percent.

Sprite was third at 8.09 percent, followed by Diet Coke at 7.82.

Dr Pepper came into being in 1885 when Charles Alderton, a pharmacist and soda fountain operator, created a drink that replicated the smell of the drugstore in Waco, Texas, where he worked, according to the Journal.


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The combination blended 23 flavors, including cherry, vanilla, and multiple fruits and spices.

The Dr Pepper website says the drug store’s owner, Wade Morrison, named the beverage after Charles Pepper, a Virginia doctor whose daughter Morrison had admired.

It was the first of today’s sodas created. Coca-Cola was born in 1886 and Pepsi-Cola in the 1890s.

Dr Pepper was long a fixture in Southern states as Coke gained a national foothold that went largely unchallenged until Pepsi began aggressive marketing in the 1960s.

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Now the beverage born in Waco has topped the Coke rival.

“Dr Pepper has been gaining, [Pepsi] has been declining, and they’re meeting in the middle,” Duane Stanford, editor of Beverage Digest, said, according to CNN.

Stanford said Pepsi is part of a massive corporation with multiple marketing priorities and is pushing its zero-sugar products.

The Journal noted that Pepsi had been second in almost every year since 1985 except for a three-year stretch when Diet Coke was second.

Dr Pepper’s efforts to grow a national name began in the 1970s, CNN reported.


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The brand is owned by Keurig Dr Pepper.

The firm’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Springate, told the Journal that as of 2004, Dr Pepper was tied for sixth place with Sprite, and since then it has been aggressive in marketing — particularly to college football fans — and in securing placements in soda fountains.

It also has been experimenting with new flavors, such as its Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream that was introduced last year, CNN reported.

Dr Pepper devotee Daryl Allen of Seattle experiments with ways to improve the flavor, such as adding either hot peppers or pickles, the Journal reported.

He was thrilled his soda was now No. 2.

“That’s awesome!” Allen said. “It’s such an underdog story.”

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Josh Manning

Deputy Managing Editor

The Western Journal

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