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I want to be a Pepper, but caffeine gives me headaches
June 30, 2007 6:58 AM   Subscribe

I want to be a Pepper, but caffeine gives me headaches.

My local Pepsi bottler stopped bottling Caffeine-Free Diet Dr Pepper. Do I have any options?

As business decisions go, it seems inexplicable: the stores that carried it always sold out, if only because I bought every bottle whenever I saw it in the store, and had to regularly rotate supermarkets to satisfy just my own demand. But perhaps they got fed up with all the Dr Pepper brand extensions that no one is drinking.

Other caffeine-free soda choices are inferior (Diet Sprite, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke) or undrinkable (Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, generic caffeine-free diet cola). Is it possible to get another bottler to ship, say, two or three cases a month to me at a non-arm-and-a-leg price?

I'm in the Washington DC Metro area. (And, yes, I know this is trivial, and it won't kill me to switch to another beverage. I'm just curious what my options are or if anyone in the Meta-community has had a solution to a similar idiosyncratic taste.)
posted by commander_cool to Food & Drink (18 answers total)
 
One of my neighbors here in suburban NY used to get Coke shipped to his house in an eighteen-wheeler. (Why? I have no idea.) He got significantly more than two or three cases a month -- I would estimate ten -- but he had a family of sixish and they went through it all.

My guess is that it's possible to get a bottler to ship to you, but perhaps not on the small scale that you'd like. Why not call them directly?
posted by danb at 7:07 AM on June 30, 2007


I've had good luck ordering from Old Doc's Soda Shop in the past. Try the regular sugar cane style. It's so worth it.

You'll get eaten alive on shipping, but it might do for a short term solution.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:38 AM on June 30, 2007


Have you tried a good quality root beer? Good root beer is caffeine free. The best brands I know of are IBC, Boyland (sweetened with sugar cane), and Stewart's.

One of the popular root beers has caffeine though I forget which one so if you're gonna drink A&W or Mug or one bottled by Coke or Pepsi, check the label.

Of course, if you don't like root beer, that's a no go.

Also, I could be wrong, but I thought Diet Sprite was sugar free. All Sprite is Caffeine-free, no? Ginger Ale is caffeine free for sure.
posted by dobbs at 7:38 AM on June 30, 2007


Maybe a better question is 'Where near DC have you seen caffeine-free Dr Pepper?'

Here in Ontario, I can hardly ever find the few caffeine-free-but-not-sugar-free sodas I like, and heading to where they can be purchased -- across the border in upstate NY an hour away -- makes for a decent road trip.

Useless if you dislike road trips and new-to-you grocery experiences, but a bit of fun if you do like them.
posted by kmennie at 7:43 AM on June 30, 2007


Dang nabbit. Finally something on Ask MeFi that I'm REALLY an expert in, and feloniusmonk beats me to the answer. Not only do I have caffeine-triggered migraines, I was the PRESIDENT of the Dr Pepper Club in my high school. I understand your quandary 1000%.

There are rules that say that bottlers can't ship to other bottler's jurisdictions, but Old Doc's Soda Shop has some sort of special dispensation. They'll end up costing you about a buck apiece, though. And it is indeed worth trying the sugar-cane Dr Pepper if you can get away with the caffeine, it's wonderful. So mail order is an option.

You're pretty far South, though, so maybe there's caffeine free Dr P within a couple hours' drive. I live in SoCal, so I'm not much help there.

As far as other caffeine-free soda pop options... Boylan's Root Beer and Ginger Ale are both absolutely wonderful, if you can get them in DC. I like Weinhard's, too. Not so hot on IBC and Stewart's. That'd be the classy route. The only caffeinated major root beer is Barq's, so if you like Mug or A&W, that's an option too. Lemon-lime sodas are also non-caffeinated, generally, though I'm not nuts for them myself. Your orange or strawberry sodas and whatnot are almost always uncaffeinated.

It's usually not too hard to find caffeine free regular Coke and Pepsi -- you can get them by the case at your Target/K-Mart type joints.

I dunno if you have Trader Joe's in DC, but they used to have a really nice fake Dr P called Dr. Joe's that wasn't caffeinated. It was like Dr Pepper, but a little lighter and fruitier. I haven't seen it around lately, though, so they may have stopped making it.

Hopefully that's helpful :).
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:47 AM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


getting soda delivered by a bottler was more expensive for my company than it would have been to go to a costco or Sam's club, or even a grocery store with a decent sale. FYI
posted by FlamingBore at 8:59 AM on June 30, 2007


If you can find Diet Barq's, it's fantastic and has no caffeine. I can't find it in North Carolina, so I have to lay in a supply whenever I drive to Atlanta. Maybe they'll have it in DC, though.
posted by paleography at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2007


Try driving across the river into VA and check a few grocery stores there?
posted by COD at 11:37 AM on June 30, 2007


Rather than driving all over god's green earth, call grocery stores within driving range and ask them if they stock what you want. Then make the trip and Pepper up to your heart's content.
posted by zippy at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2007


Oh, and try different grocery chains.
posted by zippy at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2007


Hey, if you get totally desperate and can't find it anywhere, I live in Texas where DP more or less grows on trees, so I could send you some (as much as you wanted) for cost and shipping. That would probably maybe be sort of expensive, but if you're reallly desperate, I would be willing to help you out. I could even buy it at Sam's maybe (assuming they sell your variety there, which is pretty likely I think).
posted by MadamM at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2007


I thought I was clear: my local bottler stopped bottling Caffeine-Free Diet Dr Pepper. There are no local grocery stores that carry it in the metropolitan Washington area because their supplier doesn't make it any more, and I've looked at every major and minor grocery chain in a forty-mile radius, as well as contacted the Dr Pepper home offices, who shrugged their shoulders and said the bottler didn't bottle it any more. So "try Costco" or "call local grocery stores" or "try Virginia" really misses the point, unless you know of a particular Costco or Virginia store that is getting its supply of Dr Pepper products from a different bottler that is violating the exclusive service territory rights of the local bottler.

I'm certainly up for a roadtrip (I used to buy cases worth after a 25-mile roundtrip to Wegman's back when they were one of the few grocery stores in the area that consistently stocked it at a reasonable price), but I'm not aware of feasible roadtrips to purchase the product these days--my car isn't big enough to store enough soda to make any such trip worth the effort in time, even aside from the price of gas and tolls.

I have friends in Texas who'd be willing to ship, though I suspect that that couldn't be done economically at the shipping rates available to individuals: a two-liter bottle weighs four and a half pounds: to ship a case of eight bottles (about one week's supply) from Houston to DC would be $30, three times the cost of the soda. Thanks to MadamM for the offer.

I'd prefer 2-liter bottles to cans. But the mail-order can route might be the best solution. If so, Old Doc's Soda Shop's costs are above $1/can when shipping is included. At that price, I may switch to scotch. Thanks to those who suggested it, as that does look like worth a roadtrip next time I'm in Texas.
posted by commander_cool at 1:23 PM on June 30, 2007


I live in Arlington, VA and according to peapod.com, you can have it delivered. I don't feel like ordering any to discover if that is actually true, but you might give it a shot.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2007


Why not figure out who the neighboring bottlers are and then either check with them or stores in their territories?
posted by zippy at 6:59 PM on June 30, 2007


feloniousmonk, can you patch in a URL? I'm in Arlington, too, and on Peapod now, and when I search for Dr Pepper now, they only offer regular and diet Dr Pepper without the caffeine-free option.
posted by commander_cool at 6:46 AM on July 1, 2007


You know what, I must've been mistaken. I went to pretty much every e-commerce site I can think of, including amazon, netgrocer, and a couple of other smaller ones, and none of them had it, even the ones that I don't have accounts with (so it wasn't some sort of regional filter). Are you sure it isn't one of those seasonal things where they just stop making it everywhere for awhile?
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2007


It's a regional thing, not a seasonal thing; it's available in Texas twelve months out of the year, and it had been around in the DC area for at least three or four years before it was discontinued a few months ago.
posted by commander_cool at 2:30 PM on July 1, 2007


I think all the ideas listed here have already been mentioned, but I thought it was interesting that there's a whole webpage devoted to how to get caffeine free diet dr pepper.
posted by rcavett at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2007


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