For W.W. Clements, former CEO and president of the Dr Pepper/7-Up Company, to describe the taste of his signature soft drink was a fool’s errand. “I’ve always maintained you cannot tell anyone what Dr Pepper tastes like because it’s so different,” he once said. “It’s not an apple, it’s not an orange, it’s not a strawberry, it’s not a root beer, it’s not even a cola. It’s a different kind of drink with a unique taste all its own.”
That ephemeral taste has given way to a host of imitators, all of which have sought to replicate not just the soda’s flavor, but also its branding. Take a look at the above photo (Boing Boing cites a watermarked URL that redirects to Elbe Spurling’s website), which depicts 23 different knockoffs, each of which aim to emulate the can’s cherry red hues, fizzy flourishes, and, obviously, the authority of a medical professional. Most turned out to be quacks peddling snake oil—looking at you, Dr. Perky—but you can’t help but admire the perseverance.
Turns out that, while impressive, the above image still represents just a selection of Dr Pepper imitators. Charlie Smith of North Carolina State University has been keeping a thorough list (it currently sits at more than 50) that breaks down the geographical and commercial details of each can—Dr. Thunder, for example, was a Walmart exclusive—and also gives a nod to that most formidable of Dr Pepper knockoffs: Mr. Pib, the only non-doctor of the bunch alongside Mr. Ahhh.