Barr’s Iron Brew, 1906
Before Irn Bru was Irn Bru, it was Iron Brew. Up until 1946 when a new law declared that drinks couldn’t be described as a “brew” if they weren’t actually brewed, and so the spelling, if not the pronunciation, was changed to keep within the letter of the law.
The basic Scottish hardness of Iron Brew’s advertising strategy is already in place in 1906, with the drink being endorsed here by champion wrestler and cable tosser Alex Munro, and all-round champion athlete of the world Donald Dinnie.
Here’s an illustrated advert to show what they actually looked like.
Oh, for the days when you could be the all-round champion of the world and look like Donald Dinnie. He was a big celebrity of the day and well hard to boot. He’s been called “The Nineteenth Century’s Greatest Athlete”, and had the honour of heavy artillery shells used in the First World War being called “Donald Dinnie’s” in recognition of just how rock he was. To be fair, he was 69 in 1906, if this is when this illustration of him was made.
Here’s Alex Munro, who excellently won bronze at the 1908 Olympics and silver at the 1912 Olympics in the Tug of War event. Oh, how I wish they still had Tug of War, but sadly that ended as an event in 1920. It reminds me of all those strong man programmes you used to get on TV in the 80s, around the time World of Sport was on.
Here Iron Brew was apparently an essential part of the recuperation of “The Fasting Man” Mons. Beaute, who held the world record for fasting at the time. 40 days with only Barr’s Soda Water as sustenance, and recovering afterwards with a heady mix of Iron Brew and Bovril.