"There was Pepsi, Coke and Vimto, Ginger Beer and Lemonade But when they asked me "whit d'ye want" This is what A said: Irn Bru, Irn Bru Built ye up, when ye grew It's the only thing to do Drink Irn Bru, Irn Bru, Irn Bru, Irn Bru" ~ Irn Bru, Scocha, 2011
In a shocking article, it appears that Irn Bru may have American origins! A Scots researcher has determined that the first version of this drink, "Ironbrew" was launched in the United States and marketed as 'the ideal American drink' in 1889, with a dark colour similar to arch rival Coca-Cola. Released in the UK nine years later in 1898 by London-based Stevenson & Howell as "Iron Brew," they registered a strongman holding aloft a glass of the beverage surrounded by weights and dumbbells as a trademark. Today's Irn Bru company, A.G. Barr is thought to have sold their own recipe, which they called "iron brew" in the summer of 1898 as well, based on a different recipe variation. The strongman was unknowingly adopted by Barr's for their Irn-Bru, and later became identified with the Highland Games athlete Adam Brown. Regardless of original inspiration, today this quintessentially Scottish beverage 'made from iron girders' is the only thing to wash down your Tunnock's Tea Cake! 'Irn-Bru gets you through'.
The number one soft drink in Scotland is Irn-Bru, which has its own special tartan based on its brand label.
Designed in 1969 as the Barr tartan (referencing Irn-Bru manufacturer A.G. Barr), by Howe design, it was redesigned in 1996/97 by Kinloch Anderson and the name changed to Irn Bru.
With many origin stories, and even evidence to suggest an original American drink first marketed as "Ironbrew", through branding and association, this quintessentially Scottish drink is a flavour once tasted, never forgotten.
The current ‘Irn-Bru’ trademark was first registered in 1946, and the tagline ‘Made in Scotland from girders’ (hinting at its rusty coloring) was used to sell Irn-Bru for several years throughout the 1980s.
Though the ‘girders’ were often thought to be a reference to the ‘rust’ colour of the drink, Irn-Bru does in fact have 0.002 per cent ammonium ferric citrate listed among its ingredients – a food additive containing iron hydroxide.
Allegedly, only three people in the whole world reportedly know the recipe for making Irn-Bru, which supposedly contains 32 ingredients/flavours!
The keeper of the recipe, Robin Barr has revealed that most of the secret recipe ingredients come from India – which is why the mascot in the early days was a little Indian boy called Ba Bru, inspired by the character of ‘Sabu’ in Rudyard Kipling’s book ‘Sabu The Elephant Boy’.
Many people experience the drink as as a combination of "bubblegum," "barley sugars", "citrus," and "bitter" notes (quinine), though even referring to the flavour as "bubblegum" is a controversial topic.
In 2018 as a result of a sugar tax levied on soft drink manufacturers, Irn-Bru will change its secret recipe!
Regardless, you can track your Irn-Bru relationship through you memory of its advertising slogans:'Scotland's Other National Drink', 'The Soft Drink for Hard Men', 'Made in Scotland from Girders', 'Phenomenal', and most recently in 2012, 'Irn-Bru gets you through'.
For a gallery of the different labeling throughout the years, click the Irn-Bru bottles of today.