On our trip to Atlanta last weekend, Chris and I were introduced, via the ripe discovery grounds of a Quickie Mart, to Dr Pepper TEN.

Being an avid Diet Drink Hater up until this year, I’m still trying to discover ones that I can stomach, and possibly even enjoy. And Dr Pepper TEN was delicious – it tasted exactly like real Dr Pepper – at least to my diet-ravaged taste buds, anyway.

But I immediately found an irreconcilable problem.

You see, I’m a continuity geek.

So when I saw this diametrically opposed mathematical claim on the front of the bottle,

I was thrown into an monumental existential crisis about my newly discovered drink.

*Dr Pepper is a DOCTOR!! And he can’t do simple addition?? How could this be?*

*This confirms my suspicions that calorie counts on foods are all ridiculously erroneous and not to be trusted.*

*It probably has some random calorie count of 18.65 but they didn’t want to name the drink Dr Pepper EIGHTEEN POINT SIX FIVE. The marketing department is just using calories as a manipulative ploy to sell drinks. How dare they exploit our beloved dieting tool in that manner?!?!*

Now obviously, it matters not whether the calorie count is 10 or 20 or 2.5 – it’s not enough to even bother counting. But as I mentioned previously, I’m a continuity geek.

And then.

My crisis was exponentially heightened when I bought my first 12 ounce can of the aforementioned drink:

So, let’s summarize. Between two packaged products, Dr Pepper TEN has made three agonizingly conflicting claims:

1. Dr Pepper TEN has 10 calories per 8 fluid ounces,

2. Dr Pepper TEN has 20 calories per 20 fluid ounces (which would be 10 calories per 10 fluid ounces), and

3. Dr Pepper TEN has 10 calories per 12 fluid ounces.

Obviously, I could not continue live my life burdened by the weight of this illogical inequality.

So I emailed The Doctor Himself.

Here was my inquiry:

Dear Dr Pepper,

I have been highly enjoying your new Dr Pepper TEN this week. It really does taste like original Dr Pepper – something a diet-drink avoider like myself can intensely appreciate.

However, I am very confused by your product, and I always find myself having an unavoidable need to get to the bottom of a good mystery.

Here is my question:

The first Dr Pepper TEN that I got was a 20 ounce bottle. It stated that it had 10 calories per 8 ounce serving, or 20 calories a bottle.

Obviously, I was perplexed. How could this be? Where did those extra 5 calories go? Were 4 ounces of the bottle completely calorie free? And if so, which 4 ounces – top, bottom, or middle? Unless of course you shake the bottle, at which point it would be all hopelessly mixed together.

Despite my confusion, I wanted more. So then I proceeded to buy a can of Dr Pepper TEN. A 12 ounce can. Which informed me that there were 10 calories in the 12 ounce can.

Which led to more questioning. Exactly where are these 10 calories and how can there be 10 calories in 8 ounces, 10 calories in 12 ounces, and 20 calories in 20 ounces? Is there a magical system that always equates out to 10 calories? Perhaps at the end of the assembly line, there’s a squirt bottle that squirts 10 calories in every previously zero calorie drink?

At any rate, my curiosity is making my soul burn within me. Can you help me understand this troubling life issue?

And thank you, again, for coming out with such a delicious product.

Sincerely,

Rachel

Within minutes, I received the obligatory computer-generated response.

*Thank you for giving a crap about our products. We will respond to what is probably your petty consumer complaint within 72 hours. Unless, of course, you found a Chinese Cockroach or Taiwanese Mouse in our product, in which case you can expect our lawyers to appear promptly at your doorstep to offer a generous amount of hush money.*

(Worded slightly more subtly professional, of course.)

I considered the fact that I wrote my email at 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon, and assumed that I would probably be receiving my follow-up after those 72 hours had expired – certainly not until Monday morning.

But I was wrong. Because, apparently, the Doctor has to work on Friday nights.

Here was the Doctor’s response, all grammar left in its genuine state:

Dear Mrs. Rachel,

Thank you for contacting us about Dr Pepper TEN. Your comments and inquiries are appreciated because they provide valuable feedback about our brands.

The 10 calories come from High Fructose Corn Syrup. When it comes to counting the calories for our Dr Pepper TEN, each serving are rounded according to FDA’s rounding rules. Under 50 calories you round to the nearest 5 calories. Hence, the reason the 8 fl oz serving and the 12 fl oz serving of Dr Pepper TEN are both 10 calories is because when they are rounded to the nearest 5 calories and the result is 10 for both.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We hope that you will continue to purchase and enjoy our products.

Sincerely,

Consumer Relations

Rounding.

Also known as **sin** to an accountant.

To fully understand The Doctor’s equation, I enlisted my Engineer Husband and his four levels of Calculus and two attempts at Differential Equations (one of which was successful) to help me work this issue out.

Here is his equation, which is so thorough that perhaps The Doctor needs to send *this *out to future inquisitive consumers:

So for all future intents and purposes, I shall refer to this drink as “Dr Pepper POINT NINE NINE”.

Love, love, love it! This sounds like something that would bug me. So…it really does taste like real Dr. Pepper? Hmmm…really? Or does it taste like Dr. Pepper the way that Coke Zero tastes like real Coke? Just curious. I can’t have caffeine, so it’s a non-issue.

See, it’s hard for me to know, because my taste buds have gone through a radical revolution this year. Previously, I was unable to drink any sort of diet drink whatsoever – I hated the aftertaste. However, I now like Coke Zero, and real coke is often too sweet for me. So you need to find an uncompromised party to really tell you what it tastes like.

This is hilarious. We had some at the football gathering Saturday. We determined it is a clever marketing tool to make you think Dr. Pepper is a 10 and Coke is a Zero. I think it takes pretty much exactly like Diet Dr. Pepper, just with a new label to attract us (which obviously worked). I can’t believe you emailed them.

Your theory makes a lot of sense – that actually hadn’t occurred to me. I just thought they were picking a random number that hadn’t otherwise been taken.

As an avid consumer of Dr. Pepper and equal hater of all diet drinks, this post both interested and amused me. : ) However, I am NOT a numbers/math/accountant person, so the equation part left me feeling a bit dizzy – especially since I read it before I’ve had my morning Dr. Pepper.

There was a coupon for a free 2 liter in the October 9th Sunday newspaper if you get/keep the coupon mail outs. I was going to get it for Tim. I hate Dr. Pepper and Tim doesn’t like diet but free is free right?

I am highly skeptical of any beverage that is reduced calorie but supposed to taste like the original. Maybe my taste buds are overly sensitive, I don’t know. I will try it on your recommendation, HOWEVER, I make no guarantees that I’ll be able to support these claims.

Mine used to be overly sensitive, also. But going without coke for a while can really do a number to those overly sensitive taste buds. So I am a bad person to confirm whether my claims are true.

I cannot believe you emailed the Dr! And I love it! I’m a little surprised that as a Doctor, his/her grammar was that painful AND he/she rounded calories! What?! Still, awesome for contacting the company. Awesome.

On a different note – I saw the bit about a four year old asking 437 questions a day and started to wonder myself. Not being a numbers gal, I didn’t track as exactly as you did, but once I started to notice HOW MANY QUESTIONS were being asked, I started to get dizzy. Oh. My. Gosh. They’re ALL questions! All day! I need a Dr. Pepper TEN to help me quote. Which by the way, I don’t think they sell out here! Just for the Southerners, perhaps? (ack! A question!) =)

Hmm… sometimes they introduce drinks to different regions at different times. Maybe you’ll get it eventually?

And yes, the questions, once you realize the amount in which they come, it’s truly overwhelming.

you trip me out. the fact that you emailed dr. pepper is proof enough that we would we be best friends in real life. However, if you are a drinker of the real (not diet) dr. pepper, you would know that the dr. pepper 10 taste just like the real thing…without the fizz…(kinda flat) However, you are right that it does taste a lot like the diet. i think this should be a monthly thing for you…emailing companys and asking questions and reporting. it would be fun to see who cares enough!

haha!!

What kind of world do we live in that is perfectly fine accepting (and explaining) that 10 cal/8 oz, 10 cal/12 oz, and 20 cal/20 oz is the same!?! The discrepency doesn’t even require doing a mathematical equation, just logic! sheesh…

I love that you emailed them AND that they assumed that you are married by way of your first name?

I was curious as to the marriage assumption as well. The Doctor seems to know too much about me…

I love your husband’s math! Thank you so much for sharing. Every time you put charts and equations here it makes me smile with glee.

(also, I was really close to doing my own math after reading the initial conundrum, but I TOTALLY didn’t expect it would involve cosines and pi, so I would have been out of luck and very frustrated if I’d tried it on my own)

I think he might have made it extra specially complicated just for me ;)

I am somewhat curiosified by the maths … :)

Being some what of a maths geek myself I am curious to know the reasoning behind the process he did to find the calorie/oz ratio … :)

Apart from to look smart – I understand that part … :D

I just told him to make it look super complicated for irony purposes, so he went around the world to get to the answer that was basically “1”. :)

Fantastic post. Continuity is something that bugs me as well. Thanks for breaking it down for us!

It was, quite literally, my pleasure.

Drinking soda should not have to be so difficult. I love that you did this!

What I want to know is why it’s not for women.

This inquiry of yours may have something to do with it…

Yes, I just heard about that advertising campaign yesterday. I’ve yet to see the commercials. If I am to blame, I am truly sorry.

Dear Consumer Relations,

Please take a refresher course on proper grammar so as to make your response cohesive. Also, perhaps a refresher course on mathematics would be of help as well.

Sincerely,

The-Not-So-Easily-Consumed-Consumer

P.S.

Thanks for the sweet blog comment the other day =)

So…isn’t this the same Dr. Pepper 10 that is “not for women”?

Yes, I just heard about that advertising campaign yesterday. I’ve yet to see the commercials. It’s all very strange, isn’t it?

Love the post!

Now….you have to go after the good/bad sides of HFCS….what is the cause of the .99cal/oz……..

So, that’s when I’ll use Calculus…. lol :)

Love the post! :)

LOVE this! My math teacher brain geeked out! I love that I am not the only one who notices things such as this and wonders what is up with that. Thank you! Thank you!

Wow, that equation was impressive. I couldn’t even follow it. I should let my friend know about your blog. She is a high school math teacher and would love this post! Last year for Awana she made her “car” in the shape of a calculator, complete with individually painted buttons which she glued on later. It was pretty cute. :)

There’s nothing better than a geeky AWANA Grand Prix Car!!

Oh my word. You are too hilarious. Only you would do the math and what a LAME response from Dr. Pepper!!! I need to get Chris to try this since he can NOT handle the diet!

Hahahaha! LOVE that you called them out on this – SO many people would never even read that closely, or care probably! I love to pick apart commercials/ads/etc. as a marketing major, just never can seem to find the time to actually write to them and give them my two cents. I vote for more inconsistent advertising blog posts! Very interesting!

This is hilarious! How long did it take Chris to do that calculation? I’m such a math geek and that rounding always bothers me especially since I am calorie conscious. I also clipped the coupon for the free 2 liter. When I went to Target, they were all out of 2 liters on the sales floor, so I think others had the same idea. I think I’ll try it tonight.

Not too long – maybe 15 minutes or so! He enjoyed it immensely, I do believe. We are definitely geeks together…

My first thought:

Maybe only 10 of the calories are “bold tasting.” :-) The other 10 are boring.

But yeah, as a former accountant, I definitely see your point about the math not adding up per ounce.

My beef with Dr Pepper 10 is its advertising campaign strictly for men. You are radical to attempt to drink it as a female. :-)

I take it that accountants do not use significant figures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Significant_figures

The basic idea is that if you don’t round, you’re claiming a degree of accuracy which you cannot scientifically claim to have.

Pretty impressive equation Chris came up with!

All I can say about this post is stay away from High Fructose Corn Syrup, it’s not good for you! By the way it’s in every soft drink and many many packaged food products :)

Thanks for this article..I was completely baffled by the silly ad campaign to begin with,then I bought a 20oz, 16oz and 12oz at different points and was EXTREMELY baffled.

Your article clears it up.

Also, I won’t buy this product..what a joke!

very funny and entertaining to read at work. doing some Google searches and I was wondering myself. thanks for this funny entertaining blog.

Hi – was looking to get to an equalized calorie per serving for Dr Pepper 10 and found your article. Very entertaining. Hope you don’t mind me linking this article to my blog – great work should always be featured!

Thanks!

Thank you! Feel free to share a link to it!

This is way over,my head… So how many calories are really in the bottle… Didnt understand the .99 thing…. Srry

I love this report. Keep it coming!!