Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Waco, Texas

On the second floor of the Dr Pepper Museum and "Foots" Clements Free Enterprise Institute, is an exhibit about Dr Pepper's contribution to the war effort. This contribution, near as I can tell, consisted of selling soda to the army and lobbying Congress (successfully) to declare Dr Pepper vital to the war effort and therefore exempt from sugar rationing.

The museum has the dual charge of commemorating original formula (ie, non corn-syrupy) Dr Pepper and promoting libertarianism among school children. The museum's mission is

to educate and entertain the general public through the collection, preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of objects relevant to the history of the soft drink industry, and through that example, the free enterprise economic system.

This plays well in Waco, apparently, as the museum is a popular place for school tours. Like pretty much everything associated with the museum, as a child I would have been ecstatic to come, but now the whole thing makes me leery. It's one big paean to the Dr Pepper-7-Up-Cadbury Schweppes Company, and doesn't seem particularly educational. There are televisions with repeating loops of Dr Pepper commercials. But what most encapsulates this is the museum's summer camp, for kids aged 8 to 13, where they can learn the ancient art of soda jerking, create a soda, and generally eat sugar and business all day. All the cool kids are there, though, I'm sure.

Up on the third floor is the WW "Foots" Clements Free Enterprise Institute and, for me, the main event, the BeverageWorld Soft Drink Hall of Fame. Think of it: little shrines to each aluminum can, a short history of the drink, perhaps all of this on a bronze plaque, like Cooperstown. Would RC Cola make the cut? What about Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray? Or Crush?

I have set myself up for disappointment. The Hall of Fame is for soft drink executives, and has small brass plaques that read

Harry E. Korab
Society of Soft Drinks
Technologists and
Operational Persons
Inducted in 1990

James B. "Bud" Lindsey, Sr.
Bottling Company
Bakersfield, California
Inducted in 1988

Myron E. Weil
Royal Crown Cola
Bottling Company, Inc.
Inducted in 1990

Kenneth E Kingsley
Alpac Corporation
National Soft Drink Association
Inducted in 1983

and so on, with colored pencil pictures of the executives beside them. It is, perhaps the worst Hall of Fame I have ever been to. There are no stories, nothing of interest, really, unless you are one of the inductees. Even then, I can't imagine that you'd make a trip to Waco to show, well, anyone.

The letters of the entrance sign aren't even applied straight.


Anonymous said...

Too bad you missed the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta. After wandering through the "exhibits" (ads) you come to a room where you get to drink all the soda you want! Can life get any better? = Christine (fan of diet Dr. Pepper)

Mario Bruzzone said...

They make you pay at the Dr. Pepper museum! (Probably because it's got the good stuff.)

The exhibits sound, well, pretty much exactly the same, though.