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True Confections

Some of the stuff we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

Margaritas and the beverages at Dublin Bottling Works are part of Texas lore. In a way, so is the chicken salad scandal that got a governor in trouble.

To the Margarita

February 22 is National Margarita Day, set aside to toast the lime and tequila concoction that in the 1970s surpassed the martini as the most popular American cocktail.

Who created the margarita? That seems to be as impossible to answer as who makes the best margarita. But what is known is that margaritas’ popularity rocketed with the invention that allowed bartenders to serve them up quickly—the margarita machine, created in 1971 by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez.

The blenders at Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine couldn’t keep pace with the orders for margaritas, so Martinez tried to buy a Slurpee machine from 7-Eleven. The company wouldn’t sell Martinez a Slurpee machine, so he bought an old soft-serve ice cream machine. With the help of a chemist friend, Martinez tinkered with the recipe and the machine so it would produce a perfect margarita slush.

Today the world’s first margarita machine sits in the Smithsonian Institution.

Sweet Success

Yes, Dublin Bottling Works suffered a major blow in 2012 when it stopped producing Dr Pepper—as it had done since 1891—the result of a lawsuit filed by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

No, the company didn’t end up like an old bottle cap—discarded and bent out of shape.

It created new varieties, made soda using Imperial pure grain sugar and, with 12 flavors available, is on pace to produce 125,000 cases a year. That’s not the 300,000 cases a year of the Dublin Dr Pepper the plant was famous for, but it means David didn’t buckle under to Goliath. Bottles of Dublin soda are available statewide and in other parts of the country.

Kenny Horton, whose proudly bears the title “head soda jerk” at Dublin Bottling Works, says Dublin Black Cherry, Dublin Vintage Cola and Dublin Texas Root Beer are big hits with customers. They’re his favorites, too.

“We’re getting some of that cult following that Dr Pepper had before,” Horton says. And the company plans to build a $3.5 million plant by 2016 that will allow it to modernize and increase production.

Undone by Chicken Salad

The “Chicken Salad Case” started February 11, 1915, when the Texas Legislature passed an appropriations bill to pay for expenses incurred by former Gov. Oscar Branch Colquitt for “chicken salad and punch,” among other items. The attorney general ruled the appropriation invalid, but Gov. Jim Ferguson signed the bill anyway.

A legal battle ensued, and in June 1916, an appeals court ruled that the Legislature could appropriate for fuel, water, lights and ice necessary for the Governor’s Mansion, but not for groceries and other personal needs of the governor.

Ferguson continued to use state funds to buy groceries, an issue that contributed to his impeachment and removal from office in 1917.