Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Pepper, Too?

Dr Pepper originated at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, a concoction of pharmacist Charles Alderton. As its originators like to point out, the soft drink is a “native Texan.”

“I’ve always maintained you cannot tell anyone what Dr Pepper tastes like because it’s so different,” said W.W. Clements, a former president and CEO of the Dr Pepper-7-Up Company. “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.”

I haven’t heard the Dr Pepper “jingle” for years, but I heard it so often over one stretch of time that its words are permanently embedded in my mind:

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper,
She’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper,
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?
Be a Pepper. Drink Dr Pepper.

This recipe embodies two kinds of pepper—Dr and cayenne—and melds the signature soft drink of Texas with the Lone Star State’s style of ribs. The amazing flavors require an accompanying glass of Syrah to be fully appreciated. Happy grilling!



  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 2 liters Dr Pepper
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Place ribs in a large baking dish. Pour Dr Pepper over them, reserving ½-cup for sauce.
  2. Add salt, and soak ribs overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. The next day, heat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Remove ribs from liquid, dry them, and rub with the chili powder. Place them on a baking dish, add 1 cup of water, and cover tightly with foil.
  5. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat nearly falls off the bone.
  6. For the barbecue sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper and remaining Dr Pepper.
  7. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
  8. Fire up the grill, and brush ribs with sauce. When grill is hot, cook ribs bone side down on a cooler section of the grill for 10 to 15 minutes. Flip them and cook until lightly charred and smoky.
  9. Remove ribs from grill, and brush them with more sauce.
Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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