Just What the Dr. Ordered

1980s-1990s Dr. Pepper logo

If I were to say “Dr. Pepper commercial,” your first thought would probably be of David Naughton (star of American Werewolf in London and the horribly underrated Midnight Madness) singing “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?”  And that’s understandable because that ad campaign is right up there with the Big Mac ingredients commercial as one of the most memorable of the last 40 years.

But in the early 1990s, Dr. Pepper decided to revamp its image and by creating a sequel of sorts to its iconic “Be a Pepper” campaign.  I guess in an age of MTV, the old commercial was too friendly and not aggressive or cool enough, maybe even hokey.  So, we got “Just What the Dr. Ordered,” a series of commercials that like most sequels, pales in comparison to the original and has more or less been forgotten by everyone in my generation (except me, of course).

This was in an era where the soda being advertised in commercials seemed to bring about unbridled awesomeness and happiness, and the people who developed “Just What the Dr. Ordered” decided to find someone cool and awesome to lead us to the caffeinated promised land.  The guy they hired was some random dude wearing a white T-shirt and jeans who sang about the ills of the world and how Dr. Pepper cures them.  He was basic, he had common sense, and he knew exactly what to do. His name is Terry Gatens (thanks to Patty, who commented below and is Terry’s sister), and over the course of four commercials from about 1990-1992, Dr. Pepper made him go out of his way to get more cool points than Fonzie ever dreamed of having.  If I had to name the guy he’s playing in the commercials, it would be Nick (because Nick’s a real name. Nick’s your buddy. Nick’s the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn’t mind if you puke in his car, Nick! … Oh, vomit. I’m sorry. Vomit.) but I don’t want to confuse the two people reading this, so I’ll call him Dr. Pepper Guy II, or DPII (out of respect for David Naughton, the original recipe Dr. Pepper Guy).  I don’t know the order in which these commercials aired, either, so I’m listing them in rank of DPII’s awesome effect on the world.


Shake, it’s Great!

I guess it should be embarrassing to admit, as well as a little hypocritical since I constantly complain about how coddled my students are, that from the time I was in first grade until the time I was in high school, my dad packed my lunch every day.  Every day, I took a brown bag with a sandwich, a drink, and some sort of snack.  The sandwich and snack changed over the years, but the drink was always the same:  Yoo-Hoo.

A chocolate drink of mysterious origin that you had to shake before you enjoyed, Yoo-Hoo was  vitamin-fortified high-fructose corn syrup that had a tangy sweetness.  It wasn’t as viscous as chocolate milk and way more shelf stable.  In fact, my dad would buy it in three-packs that he would then keep in the freezer.  Then, he would put the box at the bottom of my brown paper bag with the sandwich and snack on top.  Theoretically, it would keep everything cool while it sat in my locker all morning; in reality, it was a frozen chocolate brick that as it thawed wet the bag through condensation, usually falling through the bottom of the bag, and depending on how late I had lunch that day would either be cold or warm by the time I had to drink it.