The secret ingredient in Dr. Pepper - revealed?

Since I first tasted and started growing a certain plant native to eastern US, I have become convinced it is the predominant flavor of Dr. Pepper, but I didn’t find much online to support my theory.

Today I read an article about Dr Pepper’s rising sales and was reminded that it was created by a pharmacist in Waco TX.
The suspected plant does not grow in TX (to my knowledge) so this seemed like a dead end.

So I thought maybe this pharmacist, Wade Morrison, was originally from the east or southeast.
A quick google led to the great article below which confirms he first began working in Virginia. Furthermore, the article specifically mentions “mountain herbs” as the original ingredients.

I’m convinced the main mountain herb in question is Spicebush, Lindera benzoin also known as Appalachian Allspice.

Surely I’m not the first person to make this assertion but ….


IF so… then you only have 22 other flavors to figure out.


Im going to go with Blackberry and Raspberry… as 2 of them :sunglasses:

It doesnt go down as good as Mr. Pibb tho…



Some online sources say "amaretto, almond, blackberry, black licorice, caramel, carrot, clove, cherry, cola, ginger, juniper, lemon, molasses, nutmeg, orange, prune, plum, pepper, root beer, rum, raspberry, tomato, and vanilla.

Natural and artificial flavors” is pretty vague—and intentionally so. Indeed, the ingredient mystery has sparked countless Reddit and Quora threads pondering the possible 23 flavors that make up Dr. Pepper. A purported Dr. Pepper ingredient list that has circulated these sites and elsewhere around the internet (but never confirmed by the company) is:

Amaretto, almond, blackberry, black licorice, carrot, clove, cherry, caramel, Cola, ginger, juniper, lemon, molasses, nutmeg, orange, prune, plum, pepper, root beer, rum, raspberry, tomato, and vanilla.

The Takeaway

It’s clear that this 23-flavor recipe is highly sought after, and its makers probably don’t plan to release it anytime soon. Maybe in the future, there will be an AI invention (I hope not) that can determine flavors by just pouring it in a machine. Until then, we’ll have to simply speculate and enjoy it"


Consider there are many old recipes they may have used as a guide

No doubt they borrowed at least an ingredient
or two from Rootbeer

" Sassafras, sarsaparilla, ginger root and birch all give the brew its distinctive flavor, but without the additives.


  • 10 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons sarsaparilla root

  • 1 tablespoon ginger root

  • 1 tablespoon licorice root

  • 2 teaspoons dandelion root

  • 2 teaspoons birch bark

  • 1 star anise pods

  • 1/4 cup sassafras root bark

  • 3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar

  • 1/2 cup ginger bug (strained)"

  • Sassafras gives root beer its distinctive, slightly mint-like flavor. And it’s traditionally used to purify the blood in folk medicine (1).

  • Sarsaparilla is traditionally used as a renal tonic and for the complexion (2)

  • Ginger gives this root beer recipe a rich, fiery note. Herbalists use ginger to support cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as for nausea and stomach upset. (3)

  • Licorice gives the recipe a subtle, anise-like sweetness that pairs well with sassafras. Licorice also supports adrenal health (4), and may be helpful in addressing hormonal imbalance in women (5).

  • Dandelion Root adds the subtlest bitter note to the brew. Dandelion root also supports liver health (6"

They may have borrowed from cream soda

" Homemade Cream Sodas

By Erica Kastner

Sep 24, 2015

1 oz. fluid Flavored Syrup Of Choice

1 oz. fluid Heavy Cream

5 oz. fluid Chilled Carbonated Water


2 c. Water

2 c. Sugar

3 tbsp. Vanilla Extract


2 c. Raspberries

1 c. Water

3/4 c. Sugar


1/2 c. Orange Juice

1 1/2 c. Water

1 1/2 c. Sugar

2 tbsp. Orange Extract"

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Of course this is all in good fun but I think the reason people feel it’s so mysterious and postulate a litany of ingredients is that people are not familiar with Spicebush, which is very complexly flavored.
But again not saying it’s the SOLE flavor.
Fun stuff!



We can always follow them. Im joking but i can’t count how many times someone tried to follow us to learn secret ingredients. Most of the time we didn’t want them to die so we made sure we lost them. As an example some people ate raw poke greens in Missouri a few years ago. No doubt they followed a family like ours and saw them harvesting it. Not knowing how to prepare it they died. Can’t eat poke greens raw it is poisonous. It has to be boiled twice and the water poured off. It must be picked young.

I now wonder if your right about spice bush or if the other ingredients combined taste like it. Some people claim mixing cocacola and
Malta Goya give a taste similar to Mr. Pibb.

Malta (soft drink) - Wikipedia.

Mr.pibb story

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Lest we forget… do you remember the old bottles with the 10 2 and 4? What about putting peanuts in your Dr Pepper? That would be 24 flavors!!


“Old Doc,” a typical country doctor character with monocle and top hat, became the Dr Pepper trademark character in the 1920s and 1930s. During that era, research was discovered proving that sugar provided energy and that the average person experiences a letdown during the normal day at 10:30a.m., 2:30p.m. and 4:30p.m. A contest was held for the creation of an ad using this new information. The winner of the ad campaign came up with the famous advertising slogan, “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4.”


My theory is that it wouldnt be that many ingredients (at least originally- in today’s chemical world, who knows) since we’re talking about a rural pharmacist in the 19th century making something from locally available products.
Hence my conviction regarding Spicebush - complex flavors in a single local ingredient, well known at the time but practically unknown now.
And of course because the nose and taste buds don’t lie :rofl:


39 grams of sugar in a 12 oz can, no thanks. Artificial sweeteners, no thanks. Those 23 flavors are just a way to make drinking yourself to any early death seem less stupid. No wonder we’re a nation of sick people.


When i drank ‘pop’ as a youth there werent any labels and ‘diet’ was for the old diabetics… Tab and Fresca. YUCK.

I wasnt allowed to drink Mountain Dew… my parents wouldnt allow it… but everything else was sorta mostly ok.

I guess they were right…

In all fairness their mascot had one tooth himself.


Who wouldnt want to be toothless?


In listening to the books Outlive and Gut Check, there have been discussions related to the consumption of sugar and soda. Since the 1970s there has been an observed increase in non-alcohol related fatty liver disease in the US population as young as teenagers. Initially this was purportedly a “teen alcoholism/ binge drinking epidemic”, but it was later deduced that drinking excessive amounts of soda can mimic the effects of alcoholism in the liver.

Everything in moderation for improving your health span.


I haven’t touched the stuff in over a decade myself.

To bring us back on topic a little bit:
One other thing in favor of Spicebush as an original ingredient is its medicinal properties - these early beverages, including Coca-Cola, were of course peddled as health tonics. (I’m generalizing regarding Dr Pepper since I’ve not researched it specifically.)

Anyone familiar with Spicebush see the flavor connection too?


I would wonder if we are even drinking the same doctor pepper as we used to. Many drinks and foods have had to be changed due to drug reasons or the fact that it is so bad for you it cannot feasibly be eaten on a good diet. Coke used to be actual coke and now actual coke is illegal. Twinkies used to have a different recipe. Remember the Twinkies controversy? They were supposed to stop making them so everyone bought them and they ended up just changing their recipe to not kill you as easily. Granted how many people buy the more healthy Twinkies though. I have not had one since I was a kid when it was the old recipe.

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Yep that’s the article that prompted my post.

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Doesn’t it still have cocaine in it or at least some part of it? I thought i read they ship it into Atlanta under heavy security or something. You got to imagine none of it ever goes missing :wink: I stay away from pop/soda as much as possible. I do have a habit of drinking sparkling water.

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Another company imports the coca leaves and removes the cocaine for them:


They don’t have it anymore but the sugar and caffeine are likely going to destroy your body just as well. 1 soda that is not diet or zero sugar will give you almost your entire days worth of sugar and like coffee people become reliant on them and will get a heartache without drinking their daily dose.