WACO — This city founded in 1849 on the site of a Huaco Indian village is known for such things as Baylor University, Magnolia Market, the Texas Rangers Museum and being the birthplace of Dr Pepper, the oldest major brand soft drink in America.

Soft drink lovers — and especially Dr Pepper fans — can explore the history of this multi-billion-dollar thirst-quencher at Waco’s Dr Pepper Museum, a three-story National Register of Historic Places site that offers a free drink with admission and several interactive programs, including Taste-A-Soda, Make-A-Soda, tours and field trips, paranormal experience and the Extreme Pepper Experience for “super” Dr Pepper fans.

According to the museum, a young pharmacist named Charles Alderton is credited with inventing Dr Pepper at Morrison’s Old Corner Drugstore. Along with mixing up medications, Alderton also enjoyed serving carbonated drinks at the store’s soda fountain. Enamored with the smells of various fruit syrup flavors always wafting through the air, he decided to try and create something that tasted like that eclectic aroma.

After various experiments, he came up with a concoction he liked in 1885, did some more taste-testing and trial runs, then began offering it to the public. The origin of the drink’s name is not known for sure, but one theory suggests Alderton named it after the father of a young girl he liked.

For more information and details on a trip to the museum, go to drpeppermuseum.com.

If Dr Pepper is not your cup of choice, maybe head on over to the Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University. This 142,000-square-foot facility that opened in May 2004 includes such things as a 13-acre historic village, 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit gallery, theater, museum store, snack area and all kinds of fun children’s activities.

Right now, the museum is offering an assortment of family-friendly exhibits and attractions that includes:

Amarte with Ines Alvidres: Mexican folk art exhibit; Sept. 20-Nov. 25.

Tinker Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays in September; guests will be able to create the perfect paper airplane, hurl hooper loopers and teach a cup to fly.

Village Wednesdays: 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesdays in September; fall is in the air and the Village is the place to paint, pick and play.

Hispanic Heritage Celebration: 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 26; exploring Hispanic heritage through hands-on programs for children and families. Honor a loved one who passed by commemorating their lives and immerse yourself in Mexican folk art displayed with cultural depictions of Hispanic life.

Meet the Scientists — Baylor Stream Team: 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 26; become a Citizen Scientist for the day. Join scientists from the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR) at Baylor in a historic village to measure the water quality of the Brazos River and discuss what the results mean. Collected data will be entered into the Texas Stream Team statewide database, and into the EarthEcho Water Challenge international database. CRASR scientists will also provide water and wastewater model demonstrations inside the museum.

Mini Monday Goes Camping: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 27; little campers will learn about plants and animals of the forest, fish at Lake Waco, climb a treehouse at Cameron Park, explore the Habitat and go on a nature hike in the Village. This is geared toward young visitors ages 5 and under.

Sic ‘Em Science Day: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 23; a celebration of all things science at the Mayborn Museum in collaboration with students and faculty of Baylor University. Hands on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) activities will be featured throughout the museum, including the fan favorite Chemistry Magic Show at 2 p.m. Bring the family to experience the wonders of science and let their discoveries spark the future.

Before you leave town, consider a stop at historic Jasper’s BBQ, which began back in 1915 as a fruit stand and the last stop on the train ride up to Dallas. Diners at Jasper’s have included such names as former President George W. Bush, TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, and reaching way back, legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.

Menu items include such favorites as sliced and chopped brisket, smoked sausage, ring bologna, smoked chicken breast and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs. Side items include pinto beans, potato salad, coleslaw, BBQ sauce and original gravy, along with such specialty treats as:

Beanie-Q, a bowl of pinto beans topped with chopped brisket and a nice slice of ‘rat cheese;’ sausage/bologna wrap; jalapeño popper, a fresh pepper stuffed with chicken and wrapped with bacon; the Waco Tornado, a bed of crunchy corn chips, tender chopped beef, smoked sausage and pinto beans topped with grated cheddar cheese.

Go to jaspers-bbq.com for more information on hours and prices.

Waco is just north of Killeen-Fort Hood on Interstate 35.

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