Friday, January 13, 2012

Petty End To Dublin Dr. Pepper

Petty. Pathetic. Small. Lame. Weak. The adjectives, they do flow in reaction to Dr. Pepper's offensive lawsuit against the tiny- and only- bottler of the reknown Dublin Dr. Pepper recipe of the soda. From Culture Map Austin:

If there's a bottle of Dublin Dr Pepper in your fridge, don't drink it — you are now the proud (and probably sad) owner of a collector's item. The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co. that has produced the original recipe Dr Pepper soda since 1891 ceased production as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group announced that it had settled a pending trademark infringement lawsuit against the Dublin Dr Pepper plant by buying the Dublin operation and distribution rights.

So, in other words, this recipe and brand will be plowed under, simply destroyed to avoid whatever competition it presents to the main brand, no matter how miniscule.
Dublin Dr Pepper was sued by Dr Pepper Snapple Group for allegedly selling the Dublin Dr Pepper outside its six-county distribution area via its website and toll-free phone number. The suit asked that Dublin cease using the Dr Pepper name and trademark in addition to halting outside sales.
Allegedly? Well, I just bought 9 bottles today at the Do It Center hardware store in Fishers, Indiana. So it certainly got around. Unfortunately, 9 bottles cleaned them out. Even still, I could count the number of Indiana retailers I knew to stock it on one hand- and still have fingers left to attend to other tasks. That's hardly a competition to the main brand.

Besides that, whenever I bought and then ran out of the Dublin Dr. Pepper, I found I'd have a hankering for it, and would almost invariably end up buying the main brand. Yes, a less satisfying, cheaper variety, but isn't that the opposite of what Dr. Pepper feared? It wasn't competition, dummies! It was the enhancing of your brand!

Well, this lawsuit does the opposite. It tarnishes the very name Dr. Pepper. If they wanted me to think poorly of their company, they have succeeded greatly.

Yes, Dublin Dr. Pepper had an agreement to sell only within a 6-county area in Texas. Yes, they violated the contract. Yes, they should have faced some kind of sanction. But to kill the brand and the recipe? From the Dallas Business Journal:
Dr Pepper Snapple will now distribute Dr Pepper sweetened with cane sugar throughout Dublin’s former territory and other areas of Texas, including DFW. The packaging will no longer reference Dublin.
Cane sugar is a beautiful thing. It really makes a soda taste so much better than those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. But I believe the Dublin recipe is different than regular Dr. Pepper, beyond sweetener. The flavorings are different. I taste a greater cherry flavor. I can't find any documentation to back it up, but it really tastes different, and better.

Oh well. I'll savor these last few, and lament the petty assholes that killed a cool brand.

Update: A quick check of Ebay's listings shows Dublin Dr. Pepper going for better than $70 a six pack, and over $10 a bottle. Mind you, these are 8 oz. bottles!

Hmmm... I just spent $1.80/bottle and got 9 of 'em...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What? Agreement?

Sometimes I get to feeling fairly isolated due to my political beliefs and my musical tastes being outside the mainstream. I'm even a hockey fan in the middle of basketball country. But, somewhat like my political views, being against the college football BCS championship game is gaining steam, and the predictably boring LSU-Alabama rematch has helped.

I must confess: I only have heard, read, and surmised that it was boring. I didn't watch. I did check the box score at one point, saw that Alabama had kicked 5 field goals, that LSU's punter was as active as their quarterback, and concluded that I made the right call. From ESPN's Tim Keown, who gets in a lovely Rick Santorum dig in the process of making his case:

The LSU Tigers crossed midfield once and got so worked up over the achievement they promptly went backward and recrossed, apparently worried they were trespassing and might get in trouble. Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley got so much air time his mother was yelling at Nick Saban to go for it on fourth down, just once.

The complaint isn't necessarily the teams the BCS system chose for the title game. Instead, it's the system itself. All the calls for a playoff -- and there's really no argument anymore -- can be distilled to one sentence: More teams need a chance. When they narrow the world down to two teams, it's hard to complain when one team is undefeated and the other loses only to that team, and by just three points. But there's no way -- no possible way -- that (pick one) Oregon/Wisconsin/Oklahoma State/Stanford/Boise State would have been held to fewer than 100 yards of total offense by the Alabama defense. As good as Alabama's defense is, there's no way an Oregon-Alabama game would have been that unwatchable. And if an eight-team playoff gave us Alabama-LSU II, then fine.

This BCS National Championship Game was an ironclad argument against the current system, made all the more damning by the tremendous performances by the underlings in the Rose and Fiesta bowls. Not that anybody really needed any more evidence.

Les Miles, you mean to tell us you had a month to prepare a game plan for the national championship and you couldn't do any better than a bunch of slow-developing option plays and a couple of 2-yard pass plays? Did Jefferson tear his rotator cuff in pregame warm-ups? That game plan was so conservative I expected the cameras to pan the LSU coaches' booth to show us Rick Santorum in a sweater vest and a headset, trying to figure out which play was more likely to lose 2 yards -- Stroll Option or Hopeless Hitch?

I dunno. I thought the sweater vest was perfect- for standing around as an extra on the set of Happy Days.

You pretty much knew the game was over when Shelley kicked his fifth field goal with 22 seconds left in the third. There was simply no way LSU was going to have enough time to kick six of 'em and take the lead. But hey -- look at the bright side. At least Wing (who punted nine times for LSU) and Shelley don't have to go to the NFL scouting combine now; they had their own on Monday night.

Something good has to come out of this, so it's important that all those people who are fighting for the NCAA to institute a playoff format don't forget this night. They can't. They need to make sure nobody in power forgets how broken the system really is, and how much more fulfilling a legitimate playoff could be.

My cynicism is large, and I really doubt anything will change. Evidence seems to be the least motivating factor, with emotion the greatest. Maybe, hopefully, the ratings for the game were low. As ever, following the money tells the greatest tales. From Sports Illustrated:

TV ratings dipped for this year's BCS title game, Alabama's 21-0 win in a rematch against Southeastern Conference rival LSU. The Crimson Tide went up 15-0 late in the third quarter on five field goals while the Tigers' offense struggled to even cross midfield.

A year ago, Auburn drove for a winning field goal on the final play to beat Oregon 22-19.

Monday's game on ESPN earned a 14.0 rating, down 8 percent from last year. It's the third-lowest rating of the 14 BCS title games, beating only a 13.9 for Miami-Nebraska in 2002 and a 13.7 for Southern California-Oklahoma in 2005.

Awesome! Great! Hopefully the NCAA receives the message... and adapts a playoff.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Boring Bowl II

Oh boy, oh boy, the BCS Championship game is tonight. Color me utterly disinterested.

I think some friends take me to be a big college football fan. This is probably because my being an Ohio State fan, and the Buckeyes being in several BCS Championship games, I was very interested in that game. Alas, if I'm not interested in the teams playing, I don't watch.

I won't be watching LSU - Alabama tonight. Yes, they had a low-scoring 6-3 slogfest earlier this year that portends a repeat tonight, but that's not the real deterrent. That I don't give a fat rat's fart about either team tells much of the story. The rest of it is the BCS itself.

First and foremost, I would like a playoff. I'm a very casual college basketball fan, but I love the playoff format, and find myself getting into it as it progresses. I get to know the players and the coaches as I watch them stack victory atop victory. Teams I didn't know or care about are at last interesting to me, regardless of who they are or where they are from. Now look at tonight's game. I haven't seen LSU or Alabama in a single game- nay, a single play- this season. I could come into it cold, but I'll find something better to do, like reading one of the many books I got for Christmas. I know I'm not going to get a football playoff. The NCAA in its' infinite wisdom thinks this is better. Pah.

Prior to the BCS, I had much greater interest in the Bowl Games because while it looked like one team was the front runner for the championship, that team could lose, and because of the voting nature of college football rankings, a #3 or #4 team could emerge by winning big in a bowl game, while that #1 and #2 lost their games. By pitting #1 & #2, the NCAA figures they put together the ultimate game. They did! Problem is, it renders every other game devoid of meaning. There is no hope whatsoever that #1 AND #2 will lose. Even if LSU and Alabama repeat their 6-3 yawner, #3 Oklahoma State has no chance, none at all, of winning the championship.

I didn't watch a single bowl game this year. I didn't watch #3 Oklahoma State vs. #4 Stanford for the uselessness of it in light of the impossibility that either could become champ. I didn't even watch Ohio State's bowl game (I can't even think of who they played!), being that the tarnished team has turned me off a bit, and really, they didn't seem worthy of a bowl. I think they got one only because OSU has the largest almuni association in the USA, which means ratings for the game. In pre-BCS years, I would have watched at least 5 bowl games. New Years Day was college football central for me. Now add the NHL's Winter Classics to the mix, and I didn't even miss the bowl games this year. I didn't even think of them as they were happening.

I'll continue to hope against hope that the NCAA eventually adopts a playoff for college football. If they had, I suspect I would be very excited to watch tonight's game. Instead, it's the Iggy Pop biography.