2-12-12: While Dublin, Texas, mourns the Dr, bottling plant is moving on

Posted Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy In the town of Dublin, Texas, the "Dr" is out.

But Triple XXX is in.

A month after the divorce was final between Dublin Bottling Works and Dr Pepper, the boutique soda bottler is moving on to new brands, led by a 94-year-old Texas-born root beer.

But some residents remain in mourning for the soda that made Dublin famous.

"People are still drinking their last Dublin Dr Peppers, and they know after that, it's over forever," said Pat Leatherwood, a vice president at the First National Bank of Dublin.

"They're not ready yet to go out and pick up a new drink."

But Dublin Bottling is moving faster than its hometown of 121 years.

The bottler's new, small-batch Triple XXX Root Beer is already selling better than Dublin Dr Pepper in some Austin locations, said Jeff Kloster, a company vice president and grandson of the late Dublin Dr Pepper patriarch, Bill Kloster.

"We're bringing root beer back and bringing this company back," Jeff Kloster said.

"We have to move forward, and now."

The now Indiana-based Triple XXX brand dates to a Galveston brewery founded by Adolphus Busch that needed a new product in 1918 with Prohibition on the horizon.

Dublin Bottling is retooling its bottling line and changing restaurant drink fountains to Triple XXX fountains with cola, lemon-lime and cherry-limeade sodas, all made with the same pure cane sugar as the former Dublin Dr Pepper.

(The Plano-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group continues to bottle and sell a pure-sugar Dr Pepper. The companies' once-friendly relationship had grown frosty in recent years as the Dublin bottler's sales grew beyond what had once been a comfortable niche promotion for Dr Pepper.)

Leatherwood mentioned one reason Dublin residents haven't switched directly to root beer: It's not Dublin XXX.

"When it came time to send anybody a gift, we always sent Dublin Dr Peppers with our name on them," he said.

"Now -- we got nothin'."

At the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, director Nancy Wooldridge said visitors still come for Old Doc's Soda Shop and a soda museum that has become a collection of Pepper past.

She said everybody's busy "rewriting everything" so Dublin Bottling Works and its root beer will be promoted at the St. Patrick's Day parade and festival.

Dublin is divorced from the "Dr."

But now its XXX's are in Texas.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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