The idea of a strength/energy tonic has been resonant historically and internationally, laying the marketing groundwork for today’s energy drink. Three drinks popular in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century illustrate the breath of beverages that were marketed wholly or in part as energy/strength drinks. At that time, the world famous Guinness Stout (stout is a type of ale) was marketed as a cure for tiredness and source of strength (attributed to its iron content). Similarly Iron Brew— which debuted at the dawn of the 20th century and had as its slogan “Made in Scotland from girders”— claimed to be “invigorating,” “strengthening,” “refreshing” and “sustaining.” The iron/energy connection echoes today’s energy drinks’ touting of B vitamins, which trades on their role in combating iron deficiency anemia. IRN BRU (as it is currently known) remains a phenomenally popular beverage in Scotland. It is actually a sweet carbonated beverage which though it has a secret recipe (with 32 flavoring ingredients) is reputed to contain a lot of caffeine.
Lucozade, which used to describe itself accurately enough as “the sparkling glucose drink,” took quite a different approach. Its motto “replaces lost energy” was used in the context of illness. It was marketed as an energy replacer for people who had lost energy when they had the flu or a fever, and indeed was created for this purpose by a British chemist in 1912, and later acquired by drug company GlaxoSmithKline. Originally available only in drugstores and hospitals, it was marketed in a quasi-pharmaceutical packaging (wrapped in cellophane) until 1983. At this point, it was repositioned more or less along the lines of a contemporary energy drink.