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The 'Top Chef' secret ingredient: Dr Pepper

Dr_pepper_bottleWhen I saw that Dr Pepper had signed on as a principal sponsor of the fifth season of Top Chef that kicks off 10 p.m. Wednesday on Bravo, my first thought was of the little recipe for a hot Dr Pepper toddie that appeared on the back of ever bottle of the stuff back in the early 1960s. "Recipe" is probably a bit too fancy of a word -- basically you were supposed to heat the Dr Pepper in a saucepan until it was just about to boil, then pour it over a slice of lemon and drink it. My parents regarded this idea as roughly the soft-drink equivalent of bleeding sick people with leeches and would have no part of it. (They were a little suspicious of Dr Pepper to begin with; I think they secretly believe the urban leged that it was made of prune juice.) But my cousin Janice once made some for my younger sisters and me one Christmas Eve. It was like drinking boiling maple syrup, and I don't think anybody asked for seconds.

Still, I wouldn't mind the contestants on Top Chef being ordered to prepare some hot Dr Pepper, or even one of these other recipes. Dr Pepper wings? Dr Pepper Jell-o? Now that's what I call cuisine. And just imagine the wave of strokes all across France when Top Chef is shown there.

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