Food & Drink

We Tried Dr Pepper's First New Flavor in 5 Years

Dr. Pepper Dark Berry
Andy Kryza/Thrillist


Whenever Pavlov’s dogs heard a bell, they salivated. Similarly, I salivate whenever I see a silver can, because that usually means I’m about to have a beer. So I was faintly disappointed when Dr Pepper mailed me a huge box with a question mark on it and a silver can of mystery Dr P inside.

This flavor is the first new one for the brand in the last 5 years, and it’s slated to hit supermarket shelves on May 1st. I had a chance to preview this newfangled soda, and will tell you if the Doctor’s latest, limited-time only carbonated offering is worth waiting in line for -- you know, as long as you have the patience. (I had to.)

A quick Dr Pepper refresher

Despite being reminded of the soda’s existence during the commercial break of every college football game played since 1885, I hadn’t had a Dr Pepper in a while. That 1885 reference isn’t a total exaggeration -- that’s the year the soda debuted. Luckily for me, the soda company provided me a non-silver can of the original and its blend of 23 flavors to jog my memory.
I take a few sips of the original and it’s clear why the soda has endured since back when everyone was riding horses down old town roads. First of all, it’s unabashedly sugary, and with 39 grams of the stuff, it delivers on providing a cheap energy boost. Secondly, it has a distinctive, memorable cherry flavor. There might be 23 flavors, but it’s possible that cherry are all of them.

If the new mystery flavor is Super Cherry or something, I wonder if I’ll even be able to tell.

Let’s try to guess the new soda flavor!

Before I try the new soda, I’m going to hazard a guess at what additional flavors they might have included. It’s a shame Dr Pepper Cherry Vanilla is already a thing, because vanilla would be at the top of my list. Also, slick move adding cherry to the name of a Dr Pepper variation! That’s like if the Avengers showed up somewhere and announced, “Hey everyone, all us Avengers are here, and we brought Iron Man with us!” Someone would have to say, “Uh, no duh. He’s part of your whole thing already.”  

Here’s my shortlist of flavors I think Dr Pepper could pull off, using the original soda as a base:

  • mint
  • chocolate
  • orange
  • chili peppers

Now, I would love it if they added a dash of heat to the soda, but while America offers a seemingly endless array of snacks for sugar fiends, that probably won’t happen. The rest of the world is way more adventurous when it comes to junk food, from Wasabi Oreo cookies in China to Stroopwafel McFlurries in the Netherlands. Though the latter should be debuting in American Mickey D’s in June. There’s still hope for a Dr Pepper Chili Vanilla!

Drinking this new mystery flavor

I’ve cleansed my palate with a couple pretzel sticks, and I’m ready to dive in. I pour it out into a sample cup, and it smells more like cherry than the original. Oh no. I’m hoping they didn’t do a Super Cherry flavor, because that’s not exciting. What about the chocolate and mint and chilis we talked about earlier, Doctor?! It looks exactly the same, too. No Crystal Dr Pepper here.

Ok, the first sip is intriguing. There’s a new flavor in the mix that I wasn’t getting from the original. Is it black cherry, maybe? It’s a more pronounced, deeper cherry flavor. I’m taking sip after sip and spitting it afterwards into Dr Pepper-branded plastic cups the company helpfully included, treating this like a wine tasting without all the pesky alcohol.

This is still extremely cherry-forward, so if you’re not a fan of the original, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be a fan here. Ok, time for the moment of truth. I open the label on the can and it says the mystery flavor is…

...DARK BERRY

Dark Berry?! NO! Dr Pepper, you had a chance to make a splash in the crowded soda pool, and you went with the safe choice. You waded in with a pool noodle and a wetsuit in the hopes that no one would notice you couldn’t swim. That’s the best I could do for a summery metaphor.

In retrospect, there were some background berry notes (the company says this has fruit flavors like blackberry, black currant, and black cherry), but nothing that screamed, “THIS IS A NEW SODA!” Fans of the original Doc P should enjoy the new flavor as a twist on a classic, but this isn’t the groundbreaking soda I hoped for. I also find it unlikely to convert any people who weren’t fans of the first one.

Going forward, I’ll probably just stick with silver cans filled with beer.

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