5th edition, revised 11/25/97


This is a taste test I conducted while watching "Manimal". (The episode about the evil magicians.) All beverages were from freshly-opened two-liter bottles, except for Mr. Pibb and Dr. Joe's, which I could get only in a can (which probably accounts Mr. Pibb's extra fizziness but not Dr. Joe's flatness.) All ratings are measured relative to Dr Pepper, so you can scale them by dividing by how much better you think Coke or Pepsi is than Dr Pepper. Note that I often rated the weaker flavors more highly than the ones which had a taste that was strong enough for me to figure out how bad they are. To cleanse my palate after each swig, I made fresh with citron-flavored Mentos soaked in Orbitz and then I splashed Zima on my face.


Manufacturer: Marquee Premium

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Like Dr Pepper, but with more of the artificial fruit flavor and without as much of the sour yogurt taste. I actually like this a little better than real Dr Pepper.

Rating: 1.1


Manufacturer: Dr Pepper (NOT Coca-Cola or Pepsi, although your local Pepsi or Coke plant may bottle it)

Color: Brown, like colas.

Flavor: A sort of sour cherry-vanilla taste; loads of vanillin (the stuff they put in cheap chocolate and marshmallows) and lactic acid (the stuff that makes milk into yogurt.) Normal people don't like it, but it's an acquired taste, and I've acquired it. Has a strong aroma and is generally considered sweeter than Coke, probably comparable to Pepsi or Coke II (Max Headroom's favorite.)

Rating: 1.0


Manufacturer: American Fare (aka K-Mart)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Amazingly similar to real Dr Pepper, despite the shoddy differences of the other imitations--this one's right on the money. I docked it a tenth of a point just because you have to go to K-Mart to buy it.

Rating: 0.9


Manufacturer: President's Choice (the house brand of supermarkets who don't want to bother having their own; locally seen at Star Market and Stop & Shop, which is not to be confused with Shop & Save or Stop & Go. "P.C." foods are made even more politically correct by being labelled in both English and Quebecois. "P.C." is a trademark of Sunfresh Inc.)

Color: Purplish brown.

Flavor: Warm, it tasted poor (more so than Dr Pepper does) with an unidentifiable yet disturbing flavor. Chilled, it was _very_ similar to Dr Pepper--considerably more so than most of the other fakes.

Comments: This is the only one of the clones whose bottle doesn't look right--it's black with red and yellow lettering. They didn't get the color of the soda or the bottle right, but the contents are fine if chilled.

Rating: 0.9 cold, 0.4 warm

DR. A+

Manufacturer: Albertson's (West coast supermarket chain)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Like Dr Pepper but sweeter, or like Mr. Pibb with more flavor. Bonus points for real sugar, but they get taken away again for the faintly bitter aftertaste that's just now surfacing.

Rating: 0.8


Manufacturer: Coca-Cola

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Very fizzy but almost no flavor. Imagine a Dr Pepper with more sugar and gas and less of the other stuff. Reminded me of the clear stuff you sometimes get at McDonalds when the soda dispenser is sick.

Comments: Very boring but non-threatening. Even more a phenomenon of the South than Dr Pepper; extremely rare north of Mason-Dixon. The most commercially successful of the fake Dr Peppers, even though it's the only one which flunked out of grad school.

Rating: 0.6


Manufacturer: Wolmex Beverage Company (Las Cruces, New Mexico)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Like Mr. Pibb with a shot of grenadine for extra flavor, but corn syrup (only) instead of sugar.

Comments: My 3-liter bottle's label says "MADE IN THE USA" to distance it from those cheap imported Dr Pepper knockoffs (Herr Doktor Pfeffer?)

Rating: 0.59


Manufacturer: "Select" (as in Safeway Select faux house brand)


Manufacturer: "Select" (as in Safeway Select faux house brand)


Manufacturer: "Select" (as in Pavillions Select faux house brand)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Just like Mr. Pibb. The can of Select Skipper seemed to have a little more grenadine-like flavor than the can of Dr. Skipper or the 2-liter of Dr. Select. All had corn syrup.

Comments: All three of these were bought at the same Von's supermarket in Las Vegas, despite being labelled "Safeway" or "Pavillions"!

Rating: 0.56


Manufacturer: Shaw's (East coast supermarket chain)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: "Fabulous Flavor!" says the can. "Cherry Flavored Cola with Natural & Artificial Flavors." It doesn't have any cola taste, although the aroma has a hint of nutmeggy spice like colas. Tasted mostly like cherry with a little vanillin. Not even close to Dr Pepper, but not bad as a sort of ersatz cherry-slash-cola-slash-other generic beverage.

Rating: 0.54


Manufacturer: Wal-Mart


Manufacturer: Wal-Mart

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Like dirty Dr Pepper; a bit bitter, not enough fruit taste or sweetness. This is what you'd expect a phony Dr Pepper to taste like. Middle of the road--noticeably worse than Dr Pepper but still identifiable as a knockoff.

Comments: Again, two knockoffs of Dr Pepper in the same store!

Rating: 0.51


Manufacturer: Pepsi (part of their Slice line of artificial fruit beverages, this one's an artificial artificial flavor)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Flavor: Artificial cherry. Just like cough syrup, or worse, a barbershop lollipop.

Comments: Drinkable, but bad.

Rating: 0.5


Manufacturer: American Premier (I didn't know we'd elected Kruschev. This brand shows up at Osco Drug.)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Taste: None. Like Mr. Pibb, without the sugar or most of the carbonation.

Comments: I thought I'd had a stroke until I realized it was placebo flavored.

Rating: 0.4


Manufacturer: Preferred Selection (like President's Choice and American Fare and American Premier, but different. Seen at a mom-n-pop in Roxbury, 69c for two liters.)

Color: Same as Dr Pepper.

Taste: Cherry Coke, only sweeter and weaker.

Comments: Poorly-made cap (compared to other brands) was hard to remove, a blessing in disguise.

Rating: 0.3


Manufacturer: Store 24 (along with Lemon Zup and other products that may have been named by the late Bill Gaines)

Color: Purplish-grayish-brown. The couldn't even get THAT right?

Flavor: Really really really weak Moxie. Dilute yet still repulsive.

Comments: Worst of the bunch. Not as bad as Store 24's Blue Raspberry, which tastes like watermelon Bubble Yum and can be smelled from thirty feet away, but still nearly as bad as getting fermented shrimp paste up your nose in zero gravity while using Windows 3.1.

Rating: 0.1


Manufacturer: Trader Joe's (they also sell a chunky aloe drink, and a "fruit and vegetable drink" which is mostly orange juice with stuff like spinach added for flavor)

Color: Brown.

Flavor: VILE! EVIL! VILE! EVIL!!!! Imagine Lavoris mixed with dirt. One sip, and your tongue feels fuzzy for hours; the awful aftertaste just wouldn't go away. Other things to think of as you drink it: tincture of iodine, ice that's been in the freezer for decades, camphor, carbonated vomit.

Comments: Carbonation is weak, like Mr. Pibb. The only one of these sodas to be naturally flavored. Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors (cherry, citrus oils, spices). I couldn't taste the cherry or citrus; it was like drinking battery acid with a tenth of a Pez dissolved in it. As I write this, I am suffering from stomach cramps.

Rating: 0.0 (I thought Dr. Zeppa was bad. I have confidence I will not have to use any negative numbers in rating future contenders. This is the worst thing I've ever tasted, including rancid Crunchy Waterchestnut Drink from Chinatown.)

At this point the test was halted because "Manimal" was over and I was feeling kind of sick.

You'd think it would be a simple matter to come up with a perfect knockoff of something which tastes completely artificial, but noooo, we can land a man on the Moon but we can't run some Dr Pepper through a gas chromatograph to see whether it's supposed to taste like cherry, Coke, vanillin, or dirty socks. I am formally recommending to the President of the World that these fakes be told to shape up or they will be forced to drink Dr. Zeppa forever and ever and all the bad stuff will go away and there will never be any war and everyone will hug all the time. Also if the fakes haven't really earned a graduate degree then everyone will sue them for a million billion zillion dollars and all the candy in the world.

Yours in Pepperness, James "Kibo" Parry.

Note to pedants: Those who believe I should have used the American "Dr. Pepper" instead of the British "Dr Pepper" (which is on the bottle) may use the following periods to salt and pepper this essay as they please ---> . . . . . . . . . 

(To the two people that I owe cans of some of these: please remind me of your addresses!)


James "Kibo" Parry
last revised Feb. 24, '98

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