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; 85 years ago (1937)
IngredientsCarbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Citric Acid and Caffeine.
  • 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. It was 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 an American variety of cream soda and it is the original "red cream soda".


Retro labelled four-pack

The name was changed to Sun 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 initially marketed exclusively in Central and South Texas and around Louisville, Kentucky,[4] and in Southern Indiana. The Louisville connection was due to Roark owning the R.C. Bottling Company in Louisville. 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's introduction in that city.[5]

The drink is popular in the Southern United States, known for its unique taste and red color.[6] Though often thought to be bubble gum, its flavor is a combination of lemon and orange oils, topped off by a pure vanilla that offers a creamy aftertaste.[1] Big Red is produced and distributed by various independent 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 crème soda in the South. [8][9]

In 2007 Big Red Ltd. was purchased by Gary Smith, with backing from Citigroup Venture Capital and Goldman Sachs. Smith 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 Big Red annually.[10] Although the production facility is still in Waco, Texas, Big Red relocated their corporate headquarters to Austin, Texas, in 2009.

In 2020, Islla St. Brewery in San Antonio, Texas 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 | Deliciously Different Since 1937!". Big Red. Archived from the original on August 27, 2009.
  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. ^ "Keurig Dr Pepper".
  11. ^ Mendoza, Madalyn (July 15, 2020). "That Big Red-flavored beer goes on sale today in San Antonio under a new name". Chron.

External links[edit]