R. White's Lemonade

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R. White's Lemonade is a British brand of a carbonated lemonade, which is produced and sold in the United Kingdom by Britvic. Robert and Mary White produced the first R. White's lemonade in Camberwell, south London, in 1845.[1] The White Family took over H. D. Rawlings Ltd. in 1891, the year that it was incorporated, and then R. White & Sons Ltd. was itself incorporated in 1894. The company was taken over by Whitbread in the 1960s, and was later absorbed by Britvic in 1986, when Britvic and Canada Dry Rawlings Ltd merged.

In the 1970s R. White's also made orangeade, dandelion and burdock, and cream soda. The lemonade product, formerly made using real sugar, has (as of 2012, possibly earlier) changed the traditional recipe, replacing some sugar with aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K.[2] R. White's still contains real lemons and is available in regular, diet, Traditional Cloudy, Raspberry, Pear & Elderflower varieties. A highly successful advert from the 1970s – “Secret Lemonade Drinker” – was ranked seventh in a 2000 UK wide poll of the "100 Greatest Adverts".[3]


In 1845, Robert and Mary White started selling home-brewed ginger beer from a wheel-barrow in London under Robert White's name. From a one cart operation, its popularity developed throughout the late 1800s, and the company became South East England’s favourite soft drinks company.[4] In 1914, during the First World War, over 100 R. White employees served in the armed Forces and the company supplied the government with over half their horses and vans. In the Second World War, a great part of the vehicle fleet was commandeered by the government and used by the army. During the Blitz three major factories were wiped out in London alone.


In 1973 the popular 'Secret Lemonade Drinker' advertising campaign was launched by London agency Allen, Brady and Marsh and devised by Rod Allen, who wrote the slogan. The adverts featured actor Julian Chagrin in pyjamas creeping downstairs to raid the fridge for R. Whites Lemonade.[5] Ross McManus wrote and sang the advert's song, with his son Declan McManus – later known by his stage name Elvis Costello – providing the backing vocals. An alternative, unaired version of the advert featured Costello and his father onstage, as the 'Secret Lemonade Drinker' fantasised about being a rock star.[6]

The adverts were the brand's most famous advertising campaign, and continued to air until 1984 and won a silver award at the 1974 International Advertising Festival.[7] In 2000, “Secret Lemonade Drinker” was ranked seventh in Channel 4s poll of the "100 Greatest Adverts".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chester homeless charity teams up with lemonade brand". Chester Chronicle. 8 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Premium Lemonade". Britvic.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  3. ^ a b "The 100 Greatest TV Ads". London: Channel 4. 2000. Archived from the original on 18 June 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  4. ^ "R. White's Lemonade: Our story". Britvic. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Episode #1.3". That's What I Call Television. Season 1. Episode 3. 2007-07-21.
  6. ^ McManus, Declan (2015), pp.156-157 Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Viking.
  7. ^ "Britvic – R Whites". Web.archive.org. 2012. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 3 March 2012.

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