A Sip of History
written for Scottish Strawberries by Andrew Brown


The Barr family has been making fizzy drinks in SCOTLAND since 1880, but it was in 1901 they launched their mixed flavour drink called Iron-Brew.

Robert Fulton Barr was dispatched to set up a factory in the Parkhead area of Glasgow in 1887, where he and his brothers Andrew and William set about creating dozens of new drinks, including the one that was to set them apart - Iron-Brew

During World War 2, Iron-Brew was not recognised as a "standard drink" by the Government, so it disappeared from the shelves of shops for the duration of the war.
But when the war ended, as unavailable products started to return to shops, the Government brought in new food labeling regulations, and because Iron-Brew was not actually brewed, or made of iron, it had to change its name.
So in 1946 Barr's Irn-Bru went on to the shelves of shops all over SCOTLAND.

Since then it has become a staple part of the Scottish national diet, a compliment to other unique delicacies such as haggis suppers and deep-fried mars bars, making it the biggest-selling grocery product in SCOTLAND.

In 1959 the business started by Robert Barr was bought by his brother's company A.G.Barr & Co. Ltd. forming one large family business, which became a public company in 1965.

With the acquisition of several soft drink manufacturers, and clever advertising, A.G.Barr plc. is now among the top soft drinks companies in Europe, and the world market for IRN BRU is expanding into many new countries.

This demand is met by a high-tech distribution network and one of the most efficient canning lines on the world at Barr's Atherton plant near Manchester, England.

Since the 1960's IRN BRU has been available in a low calorie form, as well as regular, and in 1995 Barr's also provided us with an isotonic sports drink called IRN BRU XS.

IRN BRU has long been used as a hangover cure and now Scotlands "other national drink" has been added to "Scotland's national drink", to form Irn-Bru Whisky, in an alliance between the Barr's and Bell's companies.




I don't know how it is advertised in other parts of the world but in SCOTLAND it is marketed aggressively with major TV and press campaigns and billboards everywhere.
Adverts generally go for humour with some zany and outlandish storylines.

Check out this advert:
Click here: Glasgow Guide: Images: Irn Bru Advert

Coca-Cola takes a lot of pride in being the world's favorite soft-drink, but it's got some tough competition here.
SCOTLAND is in the unique position of being the only country in the world that coca-cola is NOT the top selling soft drink. IRN BRU is.
It's even available with your Big Mac at the local McDonald's.

What's it like?

There's no question about it: IRN-BRU is one-of-a-kind. Its orange colour reminds the consumer of orange soda, but not exactly; it also possesses a sort of deep, zesty hue that recalls shades of rust.
The initial smell is clean and cool, and vaguely reminiscent of tangerines.
Staring at the bottle in hopes of locating more information is pointless: the bottle will only go as far as to describe its contents as a "sparkling flavoured soft drink," and no further.

Fine....but what does it taste like?

Drinking IRN-BRU is an experience unto itself. There's an initial rush of flavour, but what sort of flavour is unclear; and then the distinct taste of water. Utilizing Scottish techniques that elude explanation, IRN-BRU somehow manages to taste more watery than water itself.

More involved sipping of the beverage reveals a flavour that's somewhere between a tangerine, iced tea and bubble-gum.
The verdict is positive: IRN-BRU is refreshing, strangely coloured and unique.


Contains: Water, Sugar, Carbon Dioxide, Citric Acid, Flavourings, Preservative (E211), Caffeine, Colours (E110, E124), Ammonium Ferric Citrate (0.002%).

The drink's secret recipe, a blend of 32 syrups and other flavours, remains a closely guarded secret, known only to two members of the board of the company.

IRN BRU does actually contain iron - it has an ammonium ferric citrate content of 0.002%.

The unofficial website:
Click here: Irn-bru

Check it out, it is seriously strange.

So, if you haven't already tried it, do yourself a big favour and try it today - you know it makes sense.

Copyright abrownę 2002
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