First it was toilet paper, then hand sanitizer. Now, one of Texas’ favorite soft drinks is in short supply — Dr Pepper, and it’s got many talking on social media.
The fizzy dark soda was created in Waco in 1885 and is the oldest major soft drink brand in America. Many Texans would argue Dr Pepper has been a key part of their lives.
“When you think about Texas and soda, Dr Pepper typically is something that is going to come to mind,” said Michelle Belanger of Houston.
Belanger grew up in a household dedicated to dark sodas. Hers was Dr Pepper. Today, she drinks a minimum of six cans a day, but lately it’s been hard to find any at stores.
“This has become more of a challenge. I don’t know if it is corona related, if it’s this aluminum can shortage or what,” she said. “But I know that my local store where I tend to get it, they still have the little inventory tag in the space where it should be, but very rarely are they getting it in.”
On Monday, Dr Pepper sent out a tweet acknowledging that folks were having trouble finding its drinks. The company told its followers “we’re working on it” and to “hang tight.
We know it’s harder to find Dr Pepper these days. We’re working on it – hang tight!
Note: This applies to all flavors of Dr Pepper – including our newest permanent addition to the family, Dr Pepper & Cream Soda. pic.twitter.com/Kf0UedMuiw
— Dr Pepper (@drpepper) August 10, 2020
Vicki Draughn is vice president of corporate communications at Keurig Dr Pepper, the Plano-based parent company that manages Dr Pepper, Keurig Green Mountain, Snapple and other products. She said supplies aren’t low everywhere, but she didn’t give a clear answer for why the Texas staple is out of stock in some areas.
“It’s local distribution partners in certain markets that are experiencing some low inventory levels on certain varieties,” Draughn said.
She attributed it in part to high demand.
“Texans love and appreciate their Dr Pepper, so I can see why that might be happening,” she said. “With everything going on with the global pandemic, I think they’re wanting to treat themselves.”
According to Draughn, retail sales of Dr Pepper have increased consistently over the last four years. In 2020 the Dr Pepper brand has grown more than 15%.
Draughn said Texans have nothing to worry about.
“We’re very well positioned in Dallas-Fort Worth to meet your Dr Pepper needs,” she said.
Belanger said she has a number of go-to stores for Dr Pepper in Houston, including H-E-B and Kroger. She recently asked an employee at Kroger in Conroe, near Houston, about the shortage and said she received no clear answer.
“If there were 10 [12-packs] there, I could guarantee six of them were going home with me,” she said.
Lately, she has her mother checking for the soda when shopping. After seeing the Twitter storm of people reacting to the shortage, Belanger knew she was not alone.
“I know that there’s bound to be far more than me that looks to try and get everything that we can with respect to certain Dr Pepper flavors,” she said. “And when it’s on the shelf, we snarf it up when we see there is any sort of potential supply disruption.”
Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @_martinez_ale.