Friday, December 24, 2004


One bennie of our spending a week in Fort Worth is that She Who Must Be Obeyed can indulge her Whataburger Jones. There is no Fast Food Meal so quintessentially Texan as a Whataburger, especially one with sliced jalapenos, washed down with a tasty Dr Pepper. And that’s exactly what we had for lunch today. SWMBO even went so far as to spring for the extra-beefy goodness of a Double Meat Whataburger in order to bury the carbs of the big, pillowy bun under an avalanche of cow protein.

Whataburger is definitely a regional fast-food chain. We don’t have ’em in Georgia. The Florida Panhandle is about as far east as they go; our annual pilgrimages to Destin are not complete without a Whataburger Run. But after today’s lunch, SWMBO is convinced that the Whataburgers in Florida are just not the same. If you want a Whataburger, ya gotta go to Texas.

[And if you want a Butterburger, ya gotta go to Culver’s, a Wisconsin operation. The burgers are OK enough, but Culver’s has the absolute lock on the Best Concrete Malted on the Frickin’ Planet.]

I can appreciate the high esteem in which SWMBO holds Whataburger, even if I don’t share it completely. But that other fine Texas product, Dr Pepper, is another story. Dr Pepper was once my Holy Grail among carbonated beverages. Rare. Almost unattainable.

You see, Dr Pepper - the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America - was not nationally distributed until May 1968. Before then, if a New York kid like me wanted a Dr Pepper, he had to travel a good distance to get it. In my case, the Window o’ Availability was during our annual voyage to Florida, when I would be permitted a single, icy-cold bottle of the elusive, exotic nectar.

Dr Pepper, to me, was like Coca-Cola’s evil, seductive twin sister. Rich, sweet, sensual, with a fruit undertone that defied description or even understanding. What was it? Was it prunes? Who knew? Who really gave a shit?

This was a soft drink with a sufficiently twisted personality that they even advertised it as a hot beverage (!) Yep, saucepans of steaming Dr Pepper, complete with floating lemon slices. We doan’ need your steenkeen’ hot chocolate! We got Hot Dr Pepper!

[And we doan’ need your steenkeen’ period, either. Dr Pepper has been written just that way - without the period - since the 1950’s.]

Well, now they have Cherry Vanilla Diet Dr Pepper, available in Texas now and shortly to be rolled out nationally. But “shortly” is a relative term, and She Who Must Be Obeyed is not in a waiting mood. She is plotting and calculating even now: How many cubic inches of space will be available in which to cram as many cases as possible in the car for the trip home? Can we strap the Mistress of Sarcasm to the roof?

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