At 104, Elizabeth Sullivan enjoys life and Dr. Pepper

A Texas resident celebrates her 104th birthday with Dr. Pepper. What really keeps centenarians young? 

Elizabeth Sullivan recently celebrated her 104 birthday with her favorite soft drink. 

She drinks three Dr. Peppers per day. 

“People try to give me coffee for breakfast,” Ms. Sullivan told Fort Worth’s CBS affiliate. “Well, I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper.”

The centurion said that she fell in love with the beverage about 40 years ago and has been drinking three a day ever since. Something about the trademark “23 flavors” has her hooked, and she sees no reason to stop.

“Every doctor that sees me says it’ll kill you, but they die, and I don’t, so there must be a mistake somewhere,” she said.

Her birthday and drinking habits came to the attention of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group CEO Larry Young. He sent the 104-year-old a gift basket from the company. She also received a cake shaped like a Dr. Pepper can.

While Sullivan doesn't attribute her longevity to a carbonated beverage, she's not alone among centenarians with quirky habits – and a sense of humor.

Jessie Gallan, who is the oldest woman in Scotland at age 109, said her secret to long life was avoiding men, claiming “they’re just more trouble than they’re worth.” Emma Morano, 115, seconds the single life. The Italian woman said her second secret was no secret at all: She eats two or three raw eggs every day.  

At 105, Pearl Contrell of Texas told reporters that her secret to long life was eating bacon every day. On her birthday in 2013, the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile showed up to deliver a pack of bacon and give her a ride around town.

Dr. Mario Martinez, who says he's interviewed some 400 centenarians, says that most don't have a family history of centenarians or a special diet. But they do stay joyfully engaged in life (don't hang out with "old" people) and 99 percent have spiritual beliefs. They may or may not be regular church goers, but Martinez says that they have relationship with a "God of love" instead of a "God of fear." He says a common attitude among super-centenarians (over 110) is "they live to enjoy life, rather than to live long."

That sounds like Sullivan.

Last year, after her 103rd birthday, Sullivan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she thought people would want to die by the time they reached their 80s or 90s. Instead, she found herself having more fun than ever once she hit 90.

I could play bridge when I wanted to, drive around when I wanted to, take trips to England or whatever I wanted to,” she told the newspaper.

"I'm feeling good," she said to the Dallas CBS affiliate KTVT this past week. "I'm glad I'm still here, and I'm glad I'm not in a rest home, glad I can read books and watch TV and have people come by to say hello."

When asked if she had any secrets to long life? She said:

"[Y]ou just keep living."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to