Standing on his Tacoma porch, Dwight Steenberg is decked out from head to toe in red and blue as he points to the different features at his home, like two prized vintage metal signs and the painted rock sitting on a railing that was given to him by his granddaughter.
Every article of Steenberg’s clothing, and each item outside his 25th Street home, is emblazoned with different iterations of the Pepsi soda logo.
Steenberg’s home — often dubbed “The Pepsi House” by fellow Tacoma residents — showcases his admiration of the carbonated sweet drink for most of his 60 years of life. He drinks an average of eight cans of Pepsi every day and has done so since the obsession began when he was 14. Before that, he drank that other famous cola.
“I liked Coca-Cola, and my brother was a Pepsi drinker — my mom used to laugh at us because we used to go back and forth about what was better — and then one day she switched our Pepsi and Coke into different cups and gave them to us,” Steenberg said. “I ended up liking the Pepsi, and he liked the Coke. We never switched back.”
The desire to start collecting Pepsi branded items came later. Steenberg’s wife gave him a gift set filled with Pepsi branded items, such as key chains, pencils, and rulers. After that, the hunt was on for more. Finding Pepsi collectibles isn’t as easy as one might think, not as easy as collecting the plethora of Coca-Cola items that are out there.
“You can walk in and find a Coke product anywhere,” he said. “Pepsi is not that far behind Coke in sales, but they just don’t put out as much (merchandise).”
As a result, Steenberg can often be found strolling through secondhand stores or driving one of his hand-painted, logoed cars around Tacoma looking for yard-sale treasures. Any logoed items will likely pique his interest, from an artist’s rendering of Times Square with a tiny Pepsi sign in the distance, or a kid’s toy truck with a Pepsi logo on it.
The bulk of the Pepsi bounty winds up crammed in the laden glass case in his living room, or lining the shelves in his basement. There are cameras, rings, decorative plates, race cars, lighters, flip flops, golf balls, toys, T-shirts, and a rare pair of Nike shoes. There also is a number of vintage glass Pepsi bottles, some still filled with the syrupy brown liquid. Those bottles are among Steenberg’s favorites from the massive collection.
“There are 11 bottles my mom found at a yard sale for $2 apiece. They are from 1968, and they have never been opened,” Steenberg said. “Pepsi collectors want them; they are worth about $150 apiece now, but I won’t sell them because my mom gave them to me — I will keep them forever.”
Steenberg’s other favorite items also were gifts, though not from family or friends, but from complete strangers. One is a lit sign that anonymously arrived on his lawn one day and now hangs above his front porch. Another item is a broken, duct-taped clock that hangs in his basement. Steenberg said he was working in his yard one day when a homeless man approached him and pulled the clock from his satchel.
“He wouldn’t let me pay him for it. He said he just wanted to contribute to the ‘Pepsi house,’” Steenberg said. “I was able to give him a Pepsi for it, and he took off with a big old smile on his face. I had a smile on my face because he thought it was cool enough to save and bring to me.”
There’s no homeowner’s association to impose façade restrictions in Steenberg’s neighborhood. In the more than 20 years since he bought his home, he hasn’t heard any complaints about his Pepsi decorations or his uniquely painted picket fence. In fact, most passersby seem to enjoy it. He gets knocks on his door from folks who want to photograph the house or talk about Pepsi — a topic he’s happy to talk about endlessly.
“There’s nothing better than Pepsi,” he said. “I’m just addicted to it, and I probably will be addicted to it until I die.”