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Thursday, January 12, 2012

There's No Joy in Foodville Tonight

Two pieces of news have been all over the internet today: the closing of the Dublin (Texas) Dr Pepper plant and the bankruptcy filing of Hostess, which threatens that iconic American snack, Twinkies. Twinkies were created in Schiller Park, Illinois in the 1930s by a baker who realized that machines used to make strawberry cream-filled shortcakes sat idle when strawberries were out of season. He adapted the machines to make the well-known snack cake filled with banana cream. During World War II bananas were rationed and vanilla cream was substituted. Bananas returned off and on until 2007 when the banana filling become permanent.
When was the last time you ate a Twinkie? I probably haven't eaten one since high school, but the mere thought of the disappearing made me want to rush out and buy one. Hmmm. I wonder if the stores are having a run on Twinkies? And DingDongs?
Heard the story that Twinkies never go stale have a shelf life of 25 years? Not so. They are good for twenty-five days, but some stores have signs that say Twinkies never stay on their shelf more than ten days
You can find lots of information about Twinkies on Google, including nutritional information.
And then there's Dublin DP--a local tragedyin Texas. A pharmacist in Waco who doubled as a soda jerk created the formula for the fruity soft drink when he noticed the bouquet of several fruit flavors blended together. The drink was known as a Waco and the name later changed to Dr Pepper--no period after Dr so that it won't be mistaken for medicine. The company went national in the 1930s and developed distribution franchises.
Baylor University maintains a strong link with Dr Pepper, having been given one of the original buildings. Every Tuesday Baylor holds a Dr Pepper happy hour and serves Dr Pepper peanut butter brittle alongside the drink.
Do you know what 10-2-4 means? When researach discovered that sugar boosts energy, the then-head of Dr Pepper advocated drinking it at ten, two and four to maintain alertness and efficiency.
The bottling plant in Dublin has distributed to its district for 120 years, and four generations of Kloster family members have owned and/or managed and/or worked for the company. Today the Dublin district includes six counties. The distinction of Dublin Dr Pepper is that when the corporations owning DP switched from sugar to the cheaper corn syrup for sweetness, the Dublin plant stayed with sugar and bottled its product in old-fashioned glass bottles. The small town considers it "their" plant and much emotion is involved with its sale to the Snapple corporation. Snapple has promised to continue to produce a cane-sweetened drink in old-fashioned glass bottles, but Dubliners will tell you it won't be the same. Fourteen people lost their jobs, and for the Klosters it was the bitter end of a family tradition.
Haven't heard what will happen to Doc's Soda Shop and the adjacent Dr Pepper Museum and Gift Shop  in Dublin. Over the years, the Dr Pepper company used an amazing variety of gimmicks and gadgets to publicize the drink, and examples of most of them are in this museum. Yes, Dr Pepper is a sentimental subject in Dublin and for Texans. It's "our" drink.
Unfortunately, it's another case of corporate profit motives triumphing over tradition and sentiment.

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