1. Customer Service

The Dr. Needs to Pay a House Call to Hill Country

Yesterday I gorged myself at the new authentic Texas barbecue joint in Manhattan, Hill Country (read a writeup from Urban Daddy for more dirt; thanks to Jay Kolbe of Weber Shandwick for the meal). While I’m not a native of Texas, it’s become an adopted home state of mine, and I’ve learned a few things about the Lone Star State:

  1. You can’t go three feet out of Dallas or Austin without seeing the Texas flag flying proudly.
  2. You’re either a Longhorn or an Aggie. There’s no middle ground. And your fate’s decided from birth (or from your first trip to Texas – it was then I learned I’m a Longhorn).
  3. Never, ever eat at Bush’s chicken, unless you want a survival story to tell your grandkids some day.
  4. Real Dr. Pepper is made with Imperial cane sugar, not corn syrup (it’s sometimes referred to as Dublin Dr. Pepper from the Dublin, TX plant where much of it is bottled).

At Hill Country, you head to various stations – meat carving, sides, dessert, and drinks – and fill up your tray as you go. I was excited to see they had Dr. Pepper, thinking they might be this oasis of sugar cane sweetness you just can’t find many places, even in Texas. If you want it the real way, your best bet is the Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco (the museum even has a MySpace profile) or Sprinkles cupcakes in Dallas (its first location outside of LA).

Sure enough, at Hill Country the woman serving up drinks was totally confused when I asked if the good Dr. had cane sugar in it. You’ll find it’s served in a can with high fructose corn syrup, just like you can get at the 7-11 a few blocks away. If they can serve brisket on butcher paper and their perfectly sweet and slightly minty iced tea in mason jars, they can go the extra mile to serve the real Dr. Pepper so they’ll have customers coming back to drink it at 10, 2, and 4.

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