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Wilde About Texas: ‘Big Red’ soda celebrates 75 years
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Even when served up at an old-fashioned soda fountain, it's impossible to mistake that Big Red color.
Identifying its flavor is another story.
"Some people call it bubblegum taste and some people taste a hint of strawberry," Big Red CEO Gary Smith said.
The truth is the ingredients that make up Big Red's unique taste are even more surprising. The three flavors were originally mixed up in Waco in 1937.
"Everybody thinks is either bubblegum or cotton candy flavored," Joy Summar-Smith with the Dr Pepper Museum said. "Mix together a little bit of orange, a little bit of lemon, a little bit of vanilla and came up with Sun Tang Cream Soda."
Sun Tang was originally green, but sales didn't really take off until the color changed. Thirty years later, its name evolved to the more descriptive ‘Big Red.’
"I think people specifically in Texas remember Big Red growing up,” Summar-Smith said. “It's been around for 75 years and they remember picnics, barbecues and going to grandma's house and drinking Big Red."
The drink's history is being celebrated in a special exhibit at a museum honoring the other famous Waco beverage, Dr Pepper.
In recent years, Big Red has spread beyond the south and is now available in much of the United States.
The trick is getting the uninitiated to take that first drink.
"It's hard to describe to people what Big Red tastes like and so we have to get them to try it," Smith said.
You can see the 75th anniversary Big Red exhibit this year at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco. On Aug. 18, the museum will be free and there will be plenty of Big Red on tap.