Barr Soft Drinks was started in 1875 when former Chairman Robin Barr's great grandfather Robert Barr established a soft drinks business at the company's first factory at Burnfoot Lane in Falkirk. A second Barr soft drinks business was established in Glasgow in 1887 by Robert Barr's son, Robert Fulton Barr. His business was taken over by his brother Andrew Greig Barr (from whom the company gets its name) five years later in 1892, when Robert decided to move to Ireland. In 1901 both Barr soft drinks businesses, Robert Barr Falkirk and A.G.Barr and Co Glasgow, jointly launched their original recipe IRON BREW an invigorating and refreshing tonic beverage.
During World War II the soft drinks' industry was rationalised, which meant that Barr could no longer produce under its pre-war trade names. Like the rest of the companies in the industry Barr's became a numbered production unit. This meant producing only the soft drink specified by the government and selling them at fixed prices. Iron Brew was not recognised as a "standard drink" and therefore disappeared from the grocery shop shelves for the duration of the war.
After the war, as the industry was getting ready to reintroduce its own products again, a disturbing proposal was put foward by the Government that food labelling regulations would be amended to ensure that the names on all foods would be in future literally true.
In the soft drinks industry this would have meant the demise of American Cream Soda as a name, since it didn't come from America and did not contain Cream. Ginger Ale could no longer be called Ginger Ale because it was not an Ale. Similarly, the name Iron Brew would have had to be changed since, although by law it had to contain 0.125mg of iron per fluid ounce, the drink was not actually brewed.
It was due to these proposals that Barr's came up with the idea of registering the phonetic equivalent of the general name "Iron Brew" as its own trade name. Thus in 1946 the name "IRN-BRU" came into being.
Before the warr Barr's Iron Brew had captured the taste buds of Scotland and, after wartime restrictions were lifted, Barr's were quick to recapture the market. From the beginning IRN-BRU was heavily advertised. The adventures of "Ba-Bru & Sandy" which ran from the 1930's were featured in many Scottish newspapers including "The Bulletin". This ran until the mid 1970's when the campaigns "Made in Scotland from Girders" and "Your Other National Drink" were developed.
Campaigns have evolved, for example the use of the distinctive 48 sheet poster advertisements shot in black and white.
Although other companies have tried to copy Barr's IRN-BRU the essence which makes it so popular remains a closely guarded secret. Whilst Chairman Robin Barr is now the only family board member to know the secret of the IRN-BRU recipe there will always be at any one time two board members who will know the recipe. The name of one of these board members will remain secret.
Barr's Irn-Bru is available in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, Canada, South Africa, much of Europe and in some parts of Australia and Singapore.
For More information visit:
IRN-BRU uk Website - http://www.irn-bru.co.uk
Diet IRN-BRU Website - www.oh-yeah.co.uk
IRN-BRU 32 energy drink Promotional Site - wakeywakey.tv
Barr Softdrinks corporate site - http://www.agbarr.co.uk
IRN-BRU australia - http://irn-bruaustralia.com/
Irn man steeled for change - January 2007