Big Red (drink)

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12 fl oz bottle of Big Red

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." 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]

Until the late 1970s, Big Red was marketed exclusively in Central and South Texas and around Louisville, Kentucky [4], including parts of Southern Indiana. The drink is highly popular in the Southern United States and is well known for its unique taste and red color.[5][not in citation given][citation needed] Its unique taste, 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 Dr Pepper Snapple Group, CCE, and Pepsi Bottling Group under license from Big Red, Inc., based in Waco, Texas.

Big Red was the sixth-highest selling soft drink company in the United States from 2002–2004, after Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper/7Up, Cott, and National Beverage Company.[3][6] As a preeminent red creme soda in the South, it is a staple of many Juneteenth celebrations.[7][8]

In 2007, Big Red Ltd. was purchased by Gary Smith with the 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, Dr Pepper Snapple Group purchased a minority interest in Big Red, Inc. Dr Pepper distributes almost 80% of the product that Big Red sells annually.[9]

Additionally, Big Red is imported into the United Kingdom by PS Foods Ltd.



Carbonated water, High fructose corn syrup or sugar, natural and artificial flavor, red #40, citric acid, and caffeine.[10]


20 fl oz bottle of Big Blue


Current, limited availability



  1. ^ a b Patoski, Joe Nick. "Big Red", Texas Monthly, 1989. Accessed February 14, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Big Red Corporate History
  3. ^ a b Todd, Heather. "Seeing Red". Beverage World, September 15, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2008
  4. ^ "Big Read". Texas Monthly. 
  5. ^ "Texas Food - Best of the Best", Lonely Planet Blue List, February 26, 2006. Accessed February 14, 2008
  6. ^ Food and Drink Europe, February 25, 2003. "Coke Stretches Lead Over Pepsi"
  7. ^ Bates, Karen Grigsby. "Red Sodas Are a Mainstay at Texas Celebrations". National Public Radio, Day to Day, June 19, 2007. Accessed February 14, 2008
  8. ^ Moskin, Julia. "Late to Freedom's Party". New York Times, June 18, 2004. Accessed February 14, 2008
  9. ^ "A dead link about Dr. Pepper distributing Big Red". 
  10. ^ Big Red Soda

External links