At 100, Jane Rogers is not much younger than the beverage she drinks first thing every morning – Dr Pepper, the oldest soft drink in the United States. And she shares a few characteristics with it.
Firstly, they’e both Texan. The drink was created in Waco, Texas, barely a two hour driver from Jane’s birthplace in Wills Point, Texas.
Then there’s the name: both were (kind of) named after doctors. Jane was christened not Jane but ‘Odoska’, the name apparently inspired by the daughter of a doctor that her mother knew. (By contrast, no one knows where the name Dr Pepper comes from, though there are plenty of attempts to explain it, none of them entirely convincing).
The drink also prides itself on its unique, vintage quality, something that Jane probably wouldn’t mind being applied to her as well. She grew up going to school on a horse or in an open wagon, in all weathers. She lived through a bout of malaria aged 10 (her mother also had it and was expected to die, but didn’t). She married at 19 to a farm worker and went to live on the farm. “I’d help milk the cows every morning and sell the cream, and did other work. It was hard, but we managed.”
In 1952, she moved with her husband, Elmer, to a ranch in Calera, Oklahoma. Though Elmer died in 1987, Jane continues to live there and – though she uses a walker – is in good health. Could that daily can of Dr Pepper play any part in that?
Plausibility rating: 1 out of 10. Though Dr Pepper may have ‘23 fruit flavors‘ it doesn’t have much in the way of the fruits’ goodness. Its ingredients are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate and caffeine. A typical can has 150 calories and the equivalent of a whopping nine teaspoons of sugar.
But Jane has a balanced diet apart from her unusual breakfast (the other part is a honey bun) and at 100 she clearly feels she’s entitled to her morning indulgence. As her local paper put it: “After a century of living, this friendly, little lady with a sweet tooth has earned the right to start her day any way she pleases.”
Exactly. Dr Pepper won’t have helped Jane get to 100 but it’s clearly helping her get the most out of the experience.