Hidden Treasures

On the way back from Arkansas this past weekend our debate team, inspired by our assistant coach Jeremy, decided to take a little detour and visit the long-lost city of Carthage. Of course, this was not the Carthage of Punic War fame, but we still managed to find what to us constituted a hidden and almost ancient treasure that Hannibal himself would’ve invaded Rome for.

I’m talking, of course, about what is known as Dublin Dr Pepper.

Due to high tariffs and price controls on American sugar, most US soft drink manufacturers made the switch from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the owner of the Dr Pepper plant in Dublin, Texas, coincidently the oldest in the world, refused to make the switch and since then the plant has continued to be one of the few in the nation that continues to use pure cane sugar in its recipe.

There is a little gas station convenience store in Carthage, Texas that sells Dr Pepper from the Dublin plant. To be sure, a few of us weren’t too keen on making an “unnecessary” stop in the middle of a long road trip, but Jeremy’s vehemence convinced us that this magic Dr Pepper was worth stopping for. We couldn’t imagine that there could be any significant difference between this Dr Pepper and normal Dr Pepper, but we were still intrigued.

We arrived at the gas station literally minutes before it closed and all 14 of us went inside. In addition to taking the owner of the shop completely by surprise, we bought, all told, about $50 worth of Dublin Dr Pepper (told apart by its old-time design), including your humble author buying a chilled round, still in glass bottles, for everyone on the team.

I decided that it was cheaper, at 89 cents a bottle, and considerably more legal than buying a round of alcohol.

We stepped outside, and after one of our teammates demonstrated a particularly fascinating way to open the bottles, we toasted and enjoyed a nice, cold, sweet Dr Pepper made the way God intended, laughing and carousing on the porch outside the store.

My point in sharing this is not to reminisce about old times where more care was put into making products, nor is it to rant about how sugar tariffs and price controls are to blame for the decrease in quality in today’s beverages.

What I do hope is that you might be reminded, like we were this weekend, of the importance of taking some time out to pull over during the long road trip that is life and appreciate the hidden treasures along the side of the road. You might end up finding more than what you thought.

For us, our little detour wasn’t special because we all had some damn good Dr Pepper. It was special because we all shared it together as good friends. We originally thought we were taking some time out to be thankful for the proverbial little things in life. As it turned out, we ended up being thankful far more for each other and our friendship than just the little old bottles of (still damn good) Dr Pepper.

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