Dr Pepper vs Root Beer: Soda Showdown

Here you will find a comparison of two old American beverages, Dr Pepper and root beer. While they have several similarities, ultimately they have distinct flavors that make them unique and appealing to different taste preferences. Let’s get into it the similarities and differences of these sodas!

Dr Pepper vs Root Beer: What’s The Difference?


These beverages are truly unique. If you have never tried them, it is extremely difficult to explain their taste given they are made from multiple flavors. In fact, Dr Pepper alone has 23 flavors, which should give you an idea of how complex this soda really is.

However, here are some examples of how some people describe each soda’s taste:

Dr Pepper – “Cherry flavored with notes of licorice”, “A cola with hints of cherry with a slight spiciness to it”, and “It’s a sweet and spicy cola”.

Root Beer – “Creamy, spicy, and sugary”, “It tastes like mouthwash (read more)” and “A sweet drink with flavors of molasses, vanilla, sarsaparilla, and licorice”.

For fun, if you’ve tried both of these beverages, please consider voting for the one you like the best.

SEE ALSO: Dr Pepper vs. Diet Dr Pepper: What’s The Difference?


Dr Pepper was invented by Charles Alderton, a pharmacist at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas in the late 1880s. Alderton developed the drink by blending different fruit flavors and carbonated water.

One belief is that the drink was named after Dr. Charles T. Pepper, a friend of Alderton’s who was also a doctor and enjoyed the drink. Another theory is that the use “Dr” was simply to symbolize a healthy beverage.

This soda began to be sold across the United States in 1904. It is now also sold globally in places like South America, Europe, and Asia.

Root Beer is a carbonated soft drink that has a distinct flavor of sassafras root, which gives it a slightly spicy and herbal taste. Root Beer has been around commercially since the 19th century, and it was originally made by mixing various herbs and roots to create a medicinal tonic by pre-colonial indigenous tribes. Hires was the first commercially available root beer which was initial made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1876.


When you review the nutrition facts below for Dr Pepper versus root beer, you’ll notice that they are nearly comparable. However, the nutrition facts will certainly vary based on brand of root beer you select. Reference the product label for the most accurate nutrition facts.

Dr PepperRoot Beer
Serving Size12 fl. oz.12 fl. oz.
Total Fat0g0g
Total Carbohydrates40g39.2g
Total Sugars39g39.2g
Added Sugars39g39.2g


Dr Pepper – The primary ingredients of Dr Pepper are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, and caffeine. These ingredients are mixed in specific proportions to create the unique flavor of Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors are a closely guarded secret, but some of the known or believed flavors include the followings: amaretto, almond, blackberry, black licorice, caramel, carrot, clove, cherry, cola, ginger, juniper, lemon, molasses, nutmeg, orange, prune, plum, pepper, root beer, rum, raspberry, tomato, and vanilla.

Root Beer – Ingredients of root beer will vary by brand. However, here are the ingredients in the popular A&W Root Beer to give you an idea of the ingredients of a mainstream root beer: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors.

According to the Portable Press, the main flavor sources of modern root beer are wintergreen and vanilla. The other minimal flavors include ginger, licorice, anise, juniper berries, and dandelion.


Dr Pepper – A 12-ounce can of Dr Pepper has 41 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. In comparison, a Coke has 34 mg and a Pepsi has 38 mg in their 12-ounce sizes. The caffeine in Dr Pepper is much lower than many coffee and energy drinks.

Root Beer – Root beer is almost always caffeine-free. However, there are exceptions. Barq’s, made by The Coca-Cola Company, is an example of a root beer with caffeine. Barq’s caffeine is relatively low at 22 mg per 12-ounce can.

Alcohol Content

Dr Pepper is sold as an alcohol-free beverage. However, it is not uncommon to be used as a mixer. Here are 7 liquors that pair with Dr Pepper if you are interested in making your Dr Pepper even more exciting and are of drinking age.

Root Beer commonly does not contain alcohol. Although, there certainly are niche hard root beer products available that have alcohol such as Not Your Father’s.

Similar to Dr Pepper, you can certainly make mixed drinks with root beer using a variety of liquors. Here are several root beer liquor drinks to consider.

Final Thoughts

Dr Pepper and root beer have distinct flavors that cater to different taste preferences. Dr Pepper is a blend of 23 flavors, including cherry, caramel, and vanilla, while root beer has a distinct flavor of sassafras root with hints of molasses, vanilla, and licorice. Both sodas have comparable nutrition facts, but the values may vary based on the brand. Ultimately, trying both beverages is the best way to determine which one you prefer.