Everyone’s favorite energy drink, Red Bull, has a lot of interesting facts hidden in their red and blue cans. Besides giving you wings to fly, Red Bull also does many fascinating things that most people are unaware of. Check out these 10 Red Bull facts that will surely surprise you!
10. It originated in the east as ‘Krating Daeng’
Energy drinks these days have become synonymous with the brand Red Bull. Whether you’re trying to stay awake the night before your university exams or downing Jägerbombs with your friends at the club, chances are that Red Bull is a part of those activities. But this dynamite energy drink is not American, European or a Western invention at all! In fact, it has its origins in the East. In Thailand, the owner of T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries, Chaleo Yoovidhya, created an energy drink called ‘Krating Daeng’, which literally means ‘red bull’ or ‘red gaur’ in Thai (gaur is an Indian bison native to South and Southeast Asia). The drink was mainly targeted towards truck drivers who needed a strong caffeinated drink to enable them to stay awake for long drives on the road. Krating Daeng soon gained popularity among the working class population. In 1982, Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz suffered from heavy jet lag after his long flight from Germany to Thailand. He happened to meet Yoovidhya during the trip, who mentioned ‘Krating Daeng’ as a cure for his jet lag. Mateschitz tried it and was surprised to learn that it completely cured his jet lag. He decided to take this product to Europe and market it as an energy drink. He partnered with Yoovidhya and the duo founded Red Bull GmbH in Chakkapong, Thailand, by investing USD 500,000 each, and he introduced the product in Austria in 1987. Before launching it in Europe, Mateschitz altered the flavor and ingredient combination of Red Bull to suit European tastes. The original Krating Daeng energy drink was very sweet, so Masteschitz gave Red Bull a berry flavor to make it suitable for the European market. While Krating Daeng was geared towards blue-collar workers, Mateschitz made Red Bull an upscale and stylish brand, with an initial launch at ski resorts in Austria. The price points were also different – it was a premium priced drink in Europe and a lower priced item in Thailand.
9. Red Bull and cocaine
Introduced to Europe and much of the Western world for the first time in the 1980s, Red Bull has a massive fan following ranging from college students, party animals, truck drivers, long shift workers, etc. It has become the go-to drink when you need an instant shot of energy and need to stay awake for a long time. But this famous energy drink has had its fair share of controversy. In 2009, it was alleged that Red Bull contained trace amounts of cocaine. Following the allegations, it was immediately pulled off the shelves in Germany. Authorities conducted a thorough investigation and found that the cocaine came from coca leaf extracts used in the manufacturing process. In its defense, Red Bull clarified that they only used coca leaves that had been de-cocainized. Additionally, they stated that after the cocaine alkaloid had been removed, the coca leaf only served as a flavoring agent. Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment concluded that only 0.13 micrograms of cocaine were found in the drink and did not pose any health risk to the general consumer. One would have to drink more than 10,000 liters to feel any effect! The amount of caffeine found in Red Bull was also under the scanner at one point of time, but Red Bull again clarified that one can contained the same amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee (about 80mg in a 250ml can). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also gave Red Bull a clean bill of health confirming that its ingredients were safe for human consumption.
8. Red Bull and health risks
Most people associate Red Bull with instant energy and rightly so, that’s what it was originally created for. Marketed in about 171 countries with the catchphrase ‘Red Bull gives you wings’, people have lapped it up without giving much thought to the long-term or short-term health risks of Red Bull. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, there has been an increase in the number of hospitalizations directly related to the consumption of Red Bull. The most common symptoms of Red Bull over-consumption are difficulty in breathing and heart palpitations. But sometimes, the reported health risks have sometimes been fatal too. A woman once reportedly suffered from blindness after drinking 28 cans of Red Bull. And a 16-year-old girl had died allegedly after drinking Red Bull while vacationing in Mexico. Red Bull over-consumption was also reported to have been the cause of heart attacks in a 21-year-old Kuwaiti national squash player. In another instance, a Korean student suffered from a Red Bull-induced mental outburst in the cafeteria of Cape Breton University in Canada. He was charged with criminal harassment and disturbance and deported from Canada. While some health and food safety authorities like EFSA have given Red Bull a clean bill of health, others have placed restrictions on its sale and consumption. For example, in 2012, the Ministry of Commerce in Kuwait banned the sale of Red Bull to consumers younger than 16 years.
7. Red Bull does not actually give you wings!
Red Bull’s catchy tagline and creative advertisements on television are what made it a worldwide phenomenon. Successfully advertised across the world as the energy drink that gives you wings, it projected the idea of an abounding source of energy and gave the consumer a feeling of invincibility. While most people enjoyed Red Bull’s clever advertising tactics and took it light-heartedly, some took it quite literally and took a very negative view of things when they did not sprout wings or develop any exceptional skills after drinking Red Bull. In a bizarre class-action lawsuit in USA in 2013, Red Bull was accused of false advertising for their slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’. The lawsuit also stated that the company’s logo and slogan were misleading to consumers. One of the plaintiffs alleged that even though he had been drinking Red Bull for a decade, he had not gained any improved athletic abilities or acquired wings. The lawsuit was ultimately settled for 13 million dollars.
6. Red Bull and extreme adventure sports
As a popular, influential and stylish lifestyle brand, Red Bull has been involved in a variety of adventure sports. As a pilot and an extreme sports junkie himself, Red Bull’s co-founder, Mateschitz, has invested millions of dollars in sponsoring and participating in high-adrenaline sports like Formula 1 (F1), motocross, air races, cliff diving, skydiving, wakeboarding, paragliding, competitive sailing, etc. On the F1 circuit, at one point of time, it was the only company to simultaneously own two F1 teams. Each year, Red Bull reportedly spends more than half a billion dollars on its F1 cars. Red Bull’s F1 team has also won the ‘Best Team’ and ‘Best Driver’ awards in the past. They are also known to compete in many other motor racing events and perform stunts with their cars on treacherous terrain. The first-ever sporting event put on by Red Bull was the Dolomitnemann, the world’s toughest team relay race, which involved a series of sports like paragliding, running, mountain biking, and kayaking against the backdrop of the beautiful Austrian countryside. Red Bull is also into breaking records and engaging in unique adventure sports. The company established Red Bull Stratos with the purpose of transcending human limits. They launched Red Bull pressure suit-clad Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, 24 miles into space in a helium balloon. He was then dropped towards the earth, and hurtling down at speeds of 830 miles per hour, he became the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of any engines. On a side note, Red Bull also sponsors milder sporting events like the Paper Wings contest, where participants engage in paper airplanes flying competition.
5. Red Bull and music
While extreme adventure sports may prominently feature on Red Bull’s roster of non-business activities, they also engage in a range of other businesses; music being one of them. Red Bull is known for sponsoring a variety of EDM (Electronic and Dance Music) festivals around the world. These EDM festivals are headlined by the most popular DJs and artists from across the globe, and attract a huge party-happy crowd. So popular are Red Bull sponsored EDM events that tickets sell out within a few days. Red Bull also has its own record label, which was launched in 2007. The label called ‘Red Bull Records’ releases fresh and new music by talented artists from a variety of genres like rap, hip-hop, EDM, rock, etc. The label was founded by the co-founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, in Santa Monica, California as a recording studio that offered free recording sessions to small indie bands. Over the years, they have released albums with various artists and bands like Twin Atlantic, Five Knives, etc. But the most successful act signed to the label is Awolnation, whose hit single ‘Sail’ spent 79 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Red Bull also runs the Red Bull Music Academy that was started in 1998 as a traveling series of music workshops and festivals around the world. It counts acts like Hudson Mohawake, Tokimonsta, Flying Lotus, etc. as its alumni.
4. A type of Red Bull to suit everyone!
When there are an endless variety of soda and caffeinated drinks to choose from, why should energy drinks be left behind? If you are wondering if there could be a variety pack of Red Bull, you wouldn’t have to look very far, for there are indeed many types of Red Bulls available in the market. While the classic red and blue can labeled as ‘Red Bull Energy Drink’ is the most well-known Red Bull, the same company also manufactures four other versions of the drink. Try the Red Bull Sugarfree, which is regular Red Bull minus all the sugar. It uses sweeteners like Acesulfame K and Sucralose/Aspartame instead of glucose and sucrose. Red Bull also makes a zero calories version called the Red Bull Zero Calories, so you can enjoy the Red Bull taste without any calories or sugars! The third variation of Red Bull is the Red Bull Editions, which is simply the classic Red Bull but with a delicious combination of fruity flavors. Further sub-varieties of Red Bull Editions are The Red Edition with a cranberry taste, The White Edition with a coconut berry taste, The Blue Edition with a blueberry taste, and The Yellow Edition with a tropical fruits taste. Red Bull also experimented with a cola version, called the Red Bull Simply Cola, which is made from all natural sources and contains no artificial flavorings, colors or preservatives. It is widely available in Europe, but its sale was discontinued in USA in 2011. There is also another rumored secret variation of Red Bull that is only available to VIP guests at Formula 1 events.
3. Pioneers of the energy drink industry
Before Red Bull came around, most people only had coffee or tea to give them the required caffeine kick necessary to stay awake for hours, whether to study for exams, finish up an important report, or complete a long stretch of driving. But when Mateschitz introduced Red Bull to the Western world in 1987, he created an energy drink market that did not even exist before it. With the launch of just one product, he simultaneously created both the product and a market for the product. He was a pioneer in a true sense of the word! Red Bull was the first energy drink to be ever launched in the West; Monster Energy, Rockstar, 5-Hour Energy, etc. came much after. Though it was introduced in Europe in 1987, Red Bull took nearly 10 more years to reach American shores. Now, it is the highest selling energy drink in the world, with about 6.7 billion cans sold annually and more than 75 billion cans sold since its creation 32 years ago. With all that cash flowing in, the headquarters of Red Bull at Fuschl am See, Austria are quite impressive, with flashy displays of cars, infinity pools, etc. The company also has its own hangar at nearby Salzburg airport that houses its massive collection of vintage aircraft, an art gallery and a restaurant. Red Bull has made Dietrich Mateschitz the richest man in Austria and Yoovidhya the third-richest person in Thailand.
2. Most Red Bull ingredients are all natural
The world’s favorite energy drink, Red Bull, is sure to give you enough energy to keep you going for hours. But if you’ve wondered about the ingredients in Red Bull, here’s the breakdown: Red Bull has synthetically produced caffeine, vitamins, and taurine (an amino acid thought to have antioxidant properties). But consumers can rest assured that these are completely safe, high quality and conform to all the food regulatory requirements and standards. The sugar used in making regular Red Bull is produced from sugar beets, but other sweeteners are used in Red Bull Sugarfree instead of the naturally occurring sucrose extracted from sugar beets. Water obviously makes up a large component of Red Bull, and as such, the company uses the best quality alpine water straight from the Swiss and Austrian Alps. Thus, most ingredients used in the production of Red Bull are all natural and of the highest quality. Red Bull Cola, on the other hand, is made from 100% natural ingredients. Introduced in 2008, it does not have any additives or preservatives.
1. Red Bull started with college kids
Over the years, with clever marketing and positioning strategies, Red Bull has evolved into a multi-dimensional lifestyle brand. When it was first introduced in Europe, it had only traditional marketing tools at its disposal. Red Bull arrived at the scene much before social media. In order to create a buzz about the drink, Mateschitz ingeniously devised a plan to get college students involved in marketing Red Bull. He paid them to throw outrageous parties at unique locales with a steady supply of Red Bull. When they were at college, he gave them enough Red Bull to tie to the roofs of their cars. The advertising technique worked and soon Red Bull became a popular brand. To be seen drinking Red Bull was then considered very stylish and a sign of being in tune with the latest party crowds. Nowadays, it is a staple at clubs, bars, gas stations and even grocery stores. People have even concocted specialty cocktails using it.