Affectionately nicknamed ‘Scotland’s other national drink’ (after whisky of course) and best identified by its luminous orange demeanour, Irn Bru has accompanied many Glaswegian memories, from washing down mighty fish suppers to starring as the noble sidekick to an array of hangover cures. And since the nation’s favourite elixir has graced our taste buds for over 100 years, it’s about time we uncovered its history and celebrated its iconic standing in Scotland’s vast culinary landscape. So grab your reading specs, crack open a can and take a swatch of the 7 things you didn’t know about Irn Bru…

It was Invented in Falkirk

So how did the nectar of the Gods come to be? It’s a question many of us may have asked ourselves while slurping down our favourite ginger juice. It all began in 1875 when Robert Barr began making carbonated water. After attending Falkirk high school, graduating and working at Falkirk’s Clydesdale Bank, it was one of Robert’s three sons, Andrew Greig Barr, who rustled up the original recipe for Irn Bru and introduced the product to the nation in 1901.

IMAGE: VisitScotland

Barr’s Dropped the Vowels in 1946

Originally ‘Iron Brew’, new branding laws saw Barr’s drop the vowels and change its name to Irn Bru in 1946, avoiding any confusion about the drink being literally brewed. Since then, its instantly recognisable branding has framed Scotland’s food and drink industry with the boldest of consonants.


Only Three People in The World Know Its Recipe

As if it couldn’t get any more sexy and mysterious, only three people in the world reportedly know Irn Bru’s magical recipe: Former company chairman Robin Barr; his daughter Julie Barr (the firm’s Company Secretary and Legal Affairs Manager) and one other A.G. Barr board director, who remains unnamed.

IMAGE: ScienceLab

It Contains Iron

For those of us who were heavily influenced in our formative years by 90s cartoons, it’s time to replace Pop Eye’s nutritional advice with some fresher and tastier facts. Well into the 1980s Irn Bru’s tagline was ‘Made in Scotland from girders’, to reference the rusty look of our top thirst-quencher. And though this isn’t totally true, Irn Bru does contain small amounts of iron, as 0.002 per cent of the ingredient ammonium ferric citrate.


It was Included in the Oxford Companion to Food

That’s right. In 1999, the popular ginger concoction was named one of the world’s greatest foods, alongside caviar, quail and smoked salmon. The drink was apparently included due to ‘its symbolic value as well as its refreshing qualities’. We can’t argue with that.

IMAGE: Oxford Companion

It Has Its Own Tartan

Having had a design created in 1969 by Howe Design, Irn Bru has paid homage to Scotland with its iconic royal blue and orange branding for nearly three decades. The official Barr tartan, however, was redesigned in 1996 and registered with the Scottish Tartans Society in September of 1997.


Russians Love it

Not only is the drink manufactured in five factories, but our fiery bevvy has also seen massive sales in Russia due to its resemblance to the Soviet-era soft drink Buratino. Though its popularity in the world’s largest nation may seem a bit random, something Irn Bru themselves put down to their ‘harsh winters’ and ‘the fact that Fanny is still a popular name there’, we can’t blame our Russian pals for enjoying a bottle of Scotland’s finest.

IMAGE: GoogleMaps

Joining a long line of Fanny’s…


***Words By Mina Green***