Since its inception in 1949, “the original energy booster” is still, quintessentially Tri-Cities — a fact that’s being celebrated at East Tennessee State University’s Reece Museum, with the “The Tri-City Beverage Story: A History of Dr. Enuf and Mountain Dew in Johnson City” exhibit, which continues until Sept. 13.
“Dr. Enuf is so different from any of the commercial sodas that are out,” said Beth Ann Decker, an avid Dr. Enuf drinker.
“Dr. Enuf is just a clean pick me up,” added Decker’s friend, Chris Baxter, who isn’t a local, but still enjoys the taste of Dr. Enuf.
And though the drink is undoubtedly a Tri-Cities original, it actually got its start 600 miles away in Chicago, Illinois.
Charles O. Gordon Sr., founder of Tri-Cities Beverage Company, purchased the formula for Dr. Enuf after it was developed by a Chicago chemist who sought to cure his co-workers of their complaints about feeling lethargic during the day. Since it was first developed, the formula hasn’t changed, and still uses pure cane sugar as a sweetener.
To keep things fresh, however, the drink is now sold in four varieties: Original, diet, herbal and diet herbal.
“I grew up with Dr. Enuf, it has a good taste, but my favorite would be the herbal,” said Jackson Goad, another fan of the soft drink. “It’s kind of like Pal’s. Both of them are unique to the area, and something that the area holds as, like, a trophy.”
And, since the drink isn’t widely known across the country, Dr. Enuf remains one of the region’s best-kept secrets — only found in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina, though the beverage is sold nationally in Cracker Barrel restaurants.
“Every state, every city needs something unique to set themselves apart from somebody else,” Decker said, adding that, while she enjoys it being a Tri-City secret, she wishes her friends in other locales could enjoy the drink. “I would like to know what Dr. Enuf is — I think they’d enjoy it.”
For more information on the exhibit or museum itself, visit www.etsu,edu/reece or call 423-439-4392. The Reece Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.