I was an ’80s baby, so this was well before my time. But apparently in the wacky culinary headspace of the 1960s, people used to drink one very particular soda, warmed but not boiled, for good cheer and good tidings. That soda was Dr. Pepper.
To be honest, out of all the sodas I could see being warmed up, it’d certainly be The Good Doctor. There’s the cherry and prune overtones, a little caffeine, syrupy sweetness—what’s not to like? Matador Network has the story of the sweet hot times, from way back when. I was made aware of it by someone I follow on Twitter, who posted a link to the article with the commentary, “Let’s bring it back. Hot Dr. Pepper.”
This ad featured in the article shows a happy family getting ready for Santa with a nice hot bowl of Dr. Pepper layered with lemons. I can practically imagine the aroma, and it’s 100% soothing. Who’d have thought? Serious Eats also suggests the lemon, but sliced extremely thin, as the citrus flavors can overpower the entire beverage.
For the most part the drink has fallen out of favor, probably because it’s literally hot soda. But there’s still a fondness in Texas for the drink, which makes sense, since Dr. Pepper is based in Plano. It used to be served at the Cotton Bowl and was apparently considered a hot toddy for children, sans alcohol. For the adults, you can enjoy a hot cup of holiday mayhe—er, cheer, by adding bourbon. It’s highly recommended you use the Dr. Pepper that contains cane sugar, not the corn syrup version; Dallas News points out that the latter might make the drink a bit too bitter.
Hot Dr. Pepper petered off in the 1970s, which is why I had never heard of it. But thanks to the internet I now know that next time I pick up a bottle, I can heat it until it steams and sip on it with some lemon while standing in front of the window, wearing a sweater, staring at the snow falling outside. Then, when the bourbon kicks in, we’re taking Christmas cheer...to the max.