Does anything pair with good ol’ Texas barbecue quite like Big Red? Our answer is a resounding No because that red elixir is just about the best anyone can get. While Dr Pepper also holds a place near and dear to Texans’ heart, there’s just nothing like the almost bubble gum flavor of Big Red on a long, hot summer day.
When it comes down to it, how much do you actually know about Big Red? For example, did you know that while it’s exclusively sold in Texas, it was marketed to Louisville, Kentucky for a period of time in the 1970s. Peaked your interest in this bright red soft drink? There are 10 more facts below!
1. Big Red was born in 1937 in Waco, Texas. Big Red is the creation of R.H. Roark and Grover C. Thomsen of Waco, Texas — also the birthplace of Dr Pepper more than 50 years earlier.
Coca-Cola has nothing on the powerhouse that is Waco, Texas when it comes to soda inventions, that’s for sure.
2. It’s not bubblegum flavored. Despite what many seem to think, Big Red isn’t bubblegum flavored. It’s actually classified a “red cream soda” and gets its distinct flavor from Thomsen’s addition of lemon oils and orange oils to the traditional vanilla cream soda recipe.
In fact, most would describe the taste as closer to cotton candy than bubblegum, which just goes to show you that none of us really know what we’re tasting.
3. It was initially named named Sun Tang Red Cream Soda. For Big Red’s first few years, it was named Sun Tang Red Cream Soda; then, in 1959, it was rebranded Sun Tang Big Red Cream Soda.
Some years later, San Antonio bottling plant President Harold Jansing heard a duo of golf caddies refer to the drink as just “Big Red.” Jansing loved the name and, in 1969, changed it once and for all. Lesson learned? Listen to your golf caddy closely.
4. Red isn’t the only flavor. It may be the brand’s flagship flavor, but these several more tastes in the “Big” family — Big Peach, Big Pineapple, Big Manzana (apple), Big Red Zero and Big Blue, a cream soda.
5. Big Mamba pitched Big Red. It seems like a match made in marketing heaven: Big Red and celebrity spokesperson Matt “Big Red” Mamba, forward for the San Antonio Spurs.
Bonner was featured in display across south and central Texas in 2014.
6. Big Red’s marketing is strange, but clever. Playing on Big Red’s storied reputation as the perfect thing with which to wash down a mouthful of true Texas BBQ, the soda’s ads are… strange to say the least.
Take a look for yourself at its “Big Red BBQ Bottle” and shudder… or salivate.
7. You can use Big Red to make a “peanut pattie”… kind of. Take a few salted peanuts, toss them into a can of Big Red and, voila, you’ve got the sippin’ equivalent of peanut brittle’s Southern cousin, the salty-sweet red peanut pattie.
8. … and to make barbecue. Given its status as a Texas staple, it comes as little surprise Big Red has made its way into another of the Lone Star State’s crown jewels: barbecue.
Meat maven Jess Pryles has this recipe for Big Red BBQ Rib Glaze, which adds a sweet flavor and that classic red color to your next backyard BBQ.
9. San Antonio hosts a Big Red and Barbacoa Festival. So revered is the soda pop in Texas, the city of San Antonio has devoted a whole daylong festival to Big Red and Barbacoa.
The festival began in 2010 and will see its seventh outing from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. May 21 at the R&J Music Pavilion, 18086 Pleasanton Road. You can find more information here.
10. … where it even has its own nickname. If the annual festival weren’t enough to prove San Antonio loves this soda, Big Red even has its own name in Alamo City — East Side Champagne.
Is Big Red your favorite Texas-born soda, or do you hold a candle for Dr Pepper instead? Let us know in the comments!