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How They Killed Dublin Dr Pepper

Spittin Image Films

The San Antonio Film Festival continues in the Alamo City.  I went to see one of their offerings Tuesday night, "Bottled Up: The Battle Over Dublin Dr Pepper."

“The story is the death of a Texas icon," said Drew Rist, who edited and directed the indie film. We spoke at the Pearl Stables, where the film was screened.

“Since 1891, Dublin Bottling Works has been making Dublin Dr Pepper," Rist said. "Three years ago they got into a battle with corporate over if they could still make Dublin Dr Pepper. Corporate ended up shutting them down.”

In this David-versus-Goliath story, the tiny town of Dublin, Texas, is pitted against Dr Pepper corporate headquarters in Plano. Dublin had been allowed to produce its own version of Dr Pepper using pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup to sweeten it. They also were allowed to call it Dublin Doctor Pepper. But then, as Rist said, corporate headquarters changed its mind.

"I used to make horror films, and to me, this was a horror film, with all the twists and turns in it,” Rist said.

Rist showed up in Dublin to start shooting the film without knowing that was Dublin Bottling’s last day of bottling the drink. He tells what happened next.

“When the doors shut all these news vans started showing up and we started going, ‘Holy cow, what is going on?’ Then somebody gave us the scoop,” Rist said.

The scoop was that a big tradition had just died.

“I wish that they could make a compromise, but I don’t see that happening,” said Rist.

I joked with Rist, asking him about his huge film crew and unlimited budget.

“Yeah, you’re hilarious! No, it was a labor of love. Edited in my bedroom," he said. "It was a crew of me and two other guys, and we all just kind of split this three ways; the duties, the jobs.”

The movie is a good one — emotion, real-life drama, and a snappy pace. Dublin Dr Pepper is officially dead, but there’s a light at the end of that tunnel. You’ll have to see the film to see what that light is.

“You can see it on iTunes, Amazon, all major VOD platforms,” said Rist.

Watch the trailer here:

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii