Feels like every media outlet takes time out to mourn the lost celebrities of the past year. Here at BalanceofFood.com, we mourn the lost food of 2012.
One death that didn't get much publicity is the loss of Dublin (Texas) Dr. Pepper. The official death day was January 11, but for those who knew and was able to secure a decent supply — the loss didn't kick in until the last drop from the last bottle was consumed.
Unlike the American Twinkies news, headlines didn't scream about the death of Dublin Dr. Pepper.
For those readers who aren't familiar with the wonderful concoction, a Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, Texas had been making a version of Dr. Pepper with cane sugar in tiny glass bottles. This was as close as you could get to a time machine.
The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (boo hiss) had been harassing, er, filing a lawsuit against the local bottler for selling beyond its distribution territory and using an unauthorized logo. In other words, people were less likely to buy the high-fructose corn syrup version in favor of the good stuff.
What the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group fails to note — other major soft drink companies, too — is that the cane sugar audience is in addition to the HFCS drinking crowd. The smart, wonderful people who were drinking Dublin Dr. Pepper aren't drinking the regular stuff in the 2-liter bottle. They drink Mexican Cokes and local bottlers smart enough to use cane sugar. I like Dr. Pepper and would pick it over Pepsi and Mountain Dew and most other soft drinks, but won't drink the version with high-fructose corn syrup.
Those glass bottles were perfect because they were smaller — portion size makes a difference in this crowd — and was a nice reminder of the days when soft drinks came in glass bottles.
The good news for the Dublin Bottling Works is that in June, the company began bottling and selling its own line of drinks sweetened with Imperial cane sugar. The catch is that those will equally as difficult to find as Dublin Dr. Pepper and you are less likely to care because it's not Dr. Pepper.
If Coca-Cola can be smart enough to let Mexican Coca-Cola live side-by-side with regular Coke, smaller soft drink companies have to think smart about ways to gain market share. Yes, we won't drink as much of your product as those who settle for the current version, but we are money in your pocket. Dr. Pepper has the prestige and the taste, provided cane sugar is involved. This is a no-brainer that somehow lost its cognitive capabilities.
Even if Twinkies do come back in the United States, right now, they aren't on store shelves. Out of sight, out of mind, for now, but consumers have an opportunity to live life without Twinkies. Whichever company that takes over the Hostess brands should know that the longer people go without something, the more they may not miss it.
People miss the old school Dr. Pepper but only because they had a chance to taste the Dublin version. I miss the Twinkies of old because I got a chance to taste the Canadian version, which up until recently was like the Twinkies of old.
When I tasted the "new" Canadian Twinkies, which taste like the American version before that left the shelves, in my mind, Twinkies were dead.
Dr. Pepper is also dead to me unless someone comes out with a cane sugar version. I can miss the hell out of Dr. Pepper and Twinkies, but until we find a version that is satisfactory to us, they are gone but not forgotten.
When you reach a reasonably certain age, there are many foods that have come and gone and you will never see again. Local restaurants, chain restaurants that have disappeared. Finding fried clams or a Mr. Twist at a HoJo's. Searching for the au gratin potatoes or steakburgers from Bill Knapp's. Gone but not forgotten.
The difference with Dublin Dr. Pepper and old school Canadian Twinkies is that these were ghosts. Visible, consumable ghosts of years gone by who came to us for only a short time. For those who got to experience those pleasures once again, they should be grateful for a second chance at something wonderful. But they also feel a second mournful loss at losing a childhood icon twice.
Tis better to have loved and lost than to never love. RIP Dublin Dr. Pepper and old school Twinkies.