Dr Pepper Skips 'Under God' On Patriotic Cans

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The Dr Pepper/Seven Up soft-drink company (DPSU) is under fire for skipping the phrase "under God" in a partial quotation of the Pledge of Allegiance on its "patriot can."

The graphic design of the can, created "to show the world that we are a united nation of people who place a high value upon freedom" according to the company, includes an artist's rendering of the Statue of Liberty and the phrase "One Nation ... Indivisible."

The American Family Association learned of the omission of the phrase "under God" when a 12-year-old girl wrote the group to complain.

"I am very concerned with Dr Pepper's new design on their cans," wrote Alyssa Haynie of Colt, Ark., whose letter is posted on the AFA website. "I noticed they have 'one nation...indivisible' on their cans and left out 'under God.'"

Haynie had emailed the company, and was told there was not room on the can to include the complete phrase.

But Randy Sharp, director of special projects for AFA, doubts that reasoning.

"Because they're trying to be politically correct they're being patriotically incorrect," Sharp told CNSNews.com. "By doing so, they're becoming divisive themselves, because they're alienating a major portion of the nation."

Dr Pepper (the period was dropped from the name in the 1950s) has been hearing from its customers, as well, based on the home page of the soft drink's corporate website.

"Dr Pepper responds to consumers regarding its patriot can," is the headline stretching across two-thirds of the page.

"The special packaging was designed to reflect our pride in this country's determination to stand together as one. The Statue of Liberty and Pledge of Allegiance were chosen as two of the greatest symbols of American freedom," the site explains. "Due to space limitations on the can, only a few of the 31 words from the Pledge of Allegiance could be used."

The explanation continues describing the "verbiage limitations" imposed by the size of the graphics on the can, echoing the reason Haynie was given. It also notes that 90 percent of the Pledge's content was omitted.

Sharp still doubts that space restrictions caused the edit to be made.

"I think anyone who looks at the can could see that there is plenty of space to include 'under God' very easily," he said. "They could drop their nutrition label a little bit and 'boom' they'd have plenty of room."

Haynie made that exact point in a second email to DPSU, but says she received no response.

Despite the controversy, the soft-drink maker believes it accomplished its goal with the special edition container.

"We at Dr Pepper/Seven Up strongly believe that the message on these cans is a resoundingly patriotic, bipartisan message that we are a united nation," the letter to consumers concludes.

Sharp says DPSU might be surprised to learn that he has received complaints from a number of people identifying themselves as "non-Christian" or "not religious" who are also offended by the slight.

"They may not be religious but they do recognize and respect religion and God as major factors in our culture and in our society," he said. "It's clear this is a company that has decided not only to leave God out of its corporate philosophy, but also has decided to offend a great number of the citizens of this country."

DPSU says the claims made against the can's design are "incomplete or inaccurate." AFA is asking anyone offended by the omission to contact the company.

Forty-one million of the cans were distributed in a dozen states. The regular Dr Pepper can design will return later in February.

E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.

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