Normally when I scroll through Twitter, I don’t pay much attention to the ads. But a Dr. Pepper ad- featuring 3 simple words- reawoke something deep and primal within me.
Berries. And. Cream.
For those of you not aware, Starburst released a berries and cream flavor in 2007, promoted by an extensive ad campaign featuring a grown-ass man dressed like a Victorian child performing a jaunty little song and dance, jubilantly reveling in their (Diversity win! Jack Ferver, the actor playing the little lad who loves berries and cream uses they/them pronouns.) love of the treat.
If you, like me, are old enough to remember when the ads originally aired, you may be asking “wait, what does that really have to do with TikTok? It was already a meme on its own?”
Well, on January 12, 2021, podcaster Justin McElroy, presumably drunk on nostalgia, uploaded a sample of the Berries and Cream song, captioned with “Please make great art with this sound, it’s what we all need.” And he was right. It truly was what we all needed, in these dark times. For those of us old enough to remember it, the torrent of recreations of the Berries and Cream dance opened a floodgate of nostalgia from a simpler time, aka when weird ads genuinely felt like they were being weird for the sake of being weird, and not a cynically manufactured attempt at “going viral.” For the younger crowd, the absurdity of it all plus the fact that it was already a song-and-dance combo made it perfect for TikTok. Even Jack Ferver, who had spent over a decade trying to distance themself from the jingle, created a TikTok account (@thereallittlelad) to embrace their legacy. The world was united in rejecting modernity and embracing tradition (not in like a tradcath fascist-y way, but in like a Dickensian orphan kinda way). Even if it is, technically, shilling for a brand, it’s for a product that doesn’t exist anymore, so it’s all in good fun.
Ok, so, back to Dr. Pepper.
It turns out the new Dr. Pepper Berries and Cream flavor is one of those “only available via redeemed rewards points” limited edition sodas, and I hate that. Like, seriously, I don’t think there’s a way I could stretch out my disdain of unnecessary rewards programs to a full page in a Word document, but it’s just not something I can ever actually picture someone doing. Oh, and redeeming the rewards points also only gives you “a chance at winning” a can of Berries and Cream. They probably didn’t feel like making more than 10 cans of the stuff.
I can understand if you’re still skeptical of the correlation I’m suggesting exists between these 2 things. After all, the TikTok trend sort of petered out around September 2021, and this soda’s only coming out now? But, keep in mind, Dr. Pepper is a multi-billion-dollar corporation, of course it took them months to catch up to the trend. Look at how long it took all the non-Popeyes chains to come up with “make a slightly better chicken sandwich than what we were already making.” Is it really that much of a stretch to accuse Dr. Pepper of just being really behind the times? And, upon further inspection, it turns out that Dr. Pepper Berries and Cream originally came out around the same time as the Berries and Cream Starbursts. Do you really expect me to believe Dr. Pepper would decide to bring the flavor back now, completely apropos of nothing?? This has nothing to do with the fact that I failed to write up anything about the Berries and Cream dance at the height of the TikTok trend, there are definitely 2 dots here in need of connecting!
The only real question left is… why hasn’t Starburst brought back Berries and Cream? We are all, after all, little lads who love berries and cream.