Big Red (soft drink)

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Big Red
Big Red bottle.JPG
A 12 fl oz (354 mL) glass bottle of Big Red
TypeCream soda
ManufacturerBig Red, Inc.
Region of originWaco, Texas
Introduced1937; 84 years ago (1937)
IngredientsOrange and lemon oils, vanilla
  • Big Red Zero (formerly Diet Big Red)
  • Retro Big Red
  • Big Red Vanilla Float
  • Big Honey Lemonade
  • Big Blue
  • Big Pineapple
  • Big Peach
  • Big Manzana

Big Red is a soft drink created in 1937 by Grover C. Thomsen and R.H. Roark in Waco, Texas[1] and originally known as Sun Tang Red Cream Soda. It is generally classified as an American variety of cream soda and it is the original "red cream soda".

Retro labelled four-pack

History and Popularity[edit]

The name was changed to Tang Big Red Cream Soda in 1959[2] and to "Big Red" in 1969[2] by Harold Jansing, then president of the San Antonio bottling plant, after hearing a golf caddy refer to the soda by that name.[3]

Big Red was originally marketed exclusively in Central and South Texas and around Louisville, Kentucky,[4] including parts of Southern Indiana. The Louisville connection was due to Roark owning the R.C. Bottling Company in Louisville and Kentucky was the first state in which this soda was available to consumers.[5] May 16, 2018, was proclaimed "Big Red Day" by Louisville mayor Greg Fischer in recognition of the 80th anniversary of Big Red being sold in that city.[5]

The drink is highly popular in the Southern United States and is well known for its unique taste and red color.[6] Its flavor, though often thought to be bubble gum, is created by mixing orange and lemon oils with the traditional vanilla used in other cream sodas.[1] Big Red is produced and distributed by various independent soft drink bottlers including Keurig Dr Pepper, CCE, and Pepsi Bottling Group under license from Big Red, Inc., based in Austin, Texas.

Big Red was the sixth-highest selling soft drink company in the United States from 2002 to 2004, after Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper/7Up, Cott and National Beverage Company.[3][7] As a preeminent red creme soda in the South, it is a staple of many Juneteenth celebrations.[8][9]

In 2007 Big Red Ltd. was purchased by Gary Smith, with backing from Citigroup Venture Capital and Goldman Sachs. Gary Smith now serves as the Chairman and CEO of Big Red and All Sport, Inc. In 2008 Keurig Dr Pepper purchased a minority interest in Big Red, Inc. Dr Pepper distributes almost 80% of the product that Big Red sells annually.[10] Although the production facility is still in Waco, Texas, Big Red relocated their corporate headquarters to Austin, Texas in 2009.

In 2020, Islia St. Brewery created a Big Red flavored beer called Big Rojo (later renamed Wild Rojo).[11]



Current, limited availability[edit]

  • Big Red Vanilla Float
  • Big Honey Lemonade
  • Big Blue
  • Big Pineapple
  • Big Peach
  • Big Manzana (apple flavored)


  • Sugar Free Big Red Vanilla Float
  • Big Punch Fruit Punch
  • Big Orange


  1. ^ a b Patoski, Joe Nick. "Big Red", Texas Monthly, 1986. Accessed February 14, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Big Red Corporate History Archived 2009-08-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Todd, Heather. "Seeing Red". Beverage World, September 15, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2008
  4. ^ "Texas Primer: Big Red". Texas Monthly.
  5. ^ a b Witt, Kathy. "Made in Kentucky", Kentucky Living Magazine, March 2018, p. 26.
  6. ^ "jTexas Food - Best of the Best" Archived 2007-06-30 at the Wayback Machine, Lonely Planet Blue List, February 26, 2006. Accessed February 14, 2008
  7. ^ Food and Drink Europe, February 25, 2003. "Coke Stretches Lead Over Pepsi"
  8. ^ Bates, Karen Grigsby. "Red Sodas Are a Mainstay at Texas Celebrations". National Public Radio, Day to Day, June 19, 2007. Accessed February 14, 2008
  9. ^ Moskin, Julia. "Late to Freedom's Party". New York Times, June 18, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2008
  10. ^ "Dr. Pepper distributing Big Red".
  11. ^

External links[edit]