Helping Those Who Help Others: Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute

soda jerk at the dr pepper museum
Ardent Authors Photo

Jason Lavender

Ardent Authors Photo

Jason Lavender

Jason Lavender

Jason Lavender

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TFNB was voted Best of Show by the Independent Bankers Association of Texas in 2020, but we know our win was all thanks to our incredible community. So, we’re heading “out of office”  into a few of the places that make our area great. Today, we’re visiting the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, where Waco history is alive and well.

From their Downtown location at 300 South 5th Street, the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute has been educating the community and promoting the success of others for almost 30 years. It’s why we’re proud to call them one of this year’s Charity Champions.

We’re all familiar with the 23 flavors and carbonation that make up Waco’s most famous drink: Dr Pepper, the oldest major soft drink in America. You likely know Dr Pepper was invented right here in Waco in 1885 by Dr. Charles Alderton.

Not all soda brands could justify a museum, but Texas’ love for Dr Pepper runs so deep that in 1989 the Dr Pepper Museum opened its doors in the original bottling plant where Dr Pepper started production. They’ve been open to visitors ever since.

There’s a lot of history and memorabilia at the Dr Pepper Museum. But it’s not just limited to the museum’s namesake; the Dr Pepper Museum features collections from the entire soft drink industry. They house over 100,000 objects, mostly donated from people within the community. With that many objects, there’s no way to display them all at once. That’s why the displays are constantly changing. So if you haven’t been in a while, come on back! There’s probably tons of cool stuff you haven’t seen yet. As a non-profit organization, all the admissions the museum makes go right back into its product. It’s all about making a better, more memorable experience for everyone in the community. The museum is staffed with kind and knowledgeable workers who strive to create an innovative and memorable experience for each guest. 

But, being a nonprofit doesn’t come without its struggles. Right now, they’re hoping to earn enough funds to renovate their elevator. It’s carried millions of guests and could use some TLC. 

“It’s something, I think, that will enhance the experience, and make sure that visitors can enjoy every aspect of our facility,” says Chris Dyer, President and CEO of the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute. 

That desire to enhance the experience for all their customers is one reason this museum is one part of our Charity Champions program. Dr Pepper has always been more than a soda; it was a revolution in the soft drink industry. Today, the museum reflects the economic impact of Dr Pepper through the  Free Enterprise Institute. 

The Institute was created in 1997 in honor of W.W. “Foots” Clements, a co-founder of the museum. Foots’ 50-year career in the soft drink industry was a lesson in perseverance, talent, and work ethic. He always credited his success to the American free-market economy and wanted to share his tools for a successful business strategy with the next generation of thinkers and innovators. Foots’ idea represents what makes a true Charity Champion: sharing success with others.

Today, the Institute educates visiting school children and adults about America’s economic system. Thousands of students across Texas take field trips to the museum and learn about economics and the free market system on guided tours. Using the story of Dr Pepper and the soft drink industry, the Institute teaches aspiring leaders how to turn an idea into a successful business.Chris Dyer explains, “We’re teaching people that if they have a unique idea, that that’s what they should follow. There’s not a traditional path in life, always.”

 The Institute believes that with the right tools, anyone can take their idea to the next level. It’s a belief we hope will also benefit the museum as a Charity Champion this year. Through a free awareness marketing campaign, world-class leadership training, and no-cost internships from Baylor students, we hope to help amplify the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute’s reach — not just in Central Texas, but around the state and the country.Listen to our recent interview with Chris Dyer on the Charity Champions podcast:

Explore the World of Dr Pepper

For Dr Pepper fans, there’s plenty to see at the museum. Their collection includes knick-knacks and valuable memorabilia from the soft drink industry over the years. Whether it’s bottles and cans, famous advertisements, apparel, or novelty items, there’s plenty to keep your group entertained.

Once you get thirsty, you can visit the Old Fashioned Soda Fountain for a classic Dr Pepper, fresh from the source. (Everyone gets a free Dr Pepper with admission!) Blue Bell ice cream is also available to make your own Texan-approved float.

But, one of the coolest experiences the Dr Pepper Museum offers? The Make-A-Soda experience. It’s like being a kid in a candy store (or a soda shop). Choose from a variety of simple and artisan flavors to craft your perfect beverage for just $10 per bottle.

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