One of Irn-Bru's slogans is "Scotland's other national drink," referring, of course, to whisky. On a related note, it's often used as a mixer with whisky or vodka, and it's also reputed to be an excellent cure for a hangover, perhaps thanks to its generous measures of sugar and caffeine.
In my visit to the UK in August I ordered an Irn-Bru on board a train from London to Edinburgh. I mistook its bright orange can to mean it was an orange soda. Instead, it tastes a lot like liquified Sweet Tarts. That is to say, it's damn sweet and rather tart. I like soda - I love a good Coke - but I'm not sure how I feel about Irn Bru.
What I do adore, however, is Irn-Bru's Christmas ad; it is, as the Brits are so fond of saying, 'brilliant.' Please click the snowman below to watch. Keep an eye out for glimpses of Edinburgh's Forth Bridge, Edinburgh Castle, and the Christmas-time ice rink in Princes Street Gardens, and be sure to listen to the lyrics.
Not all of Irn-Bru's advertising over the years has been so endearing and beloved as this particular ad. Indeed, according to Wikipedia:
Over the years, advertising campaigns for Irn-Bru have caused upset. One billboard featured a young woman in a bikini along with the slogan, "I never knew four-and-a-half inches could give so much pleasure". Another featured a picture of a cow with the slogan "When I'm a burger, I want to be washed down with Irn-Bru". This billboard received over 700 complaints but was cleared by advertisement watchdogs. A billboard which featured a depressed goth and the slogan "Cheer up Goth. Have an Irn Bru." was also criticised for inciting bullying.
Irn-Bru clearly knows how to get attention. Considering their success, they seem to support the old marketing adage that "any publicity is good publicity."
To our friends and family back across the Atlantic, fear not - Irn-Bru is sold in the States! It doesn't appear to be available in the St. Louis area, but keep an eye out for that distinctive blue and orange can if you've ever wondered what would happen if you crushed up Sweet Tarts and added some water and carbonation.