Swiss Watching trivia, No 6: Rivella

August 6, 2010, 9 Comments

Rot, Blau, Grün Rivella

Switzerland makes a lot of cheese but what happens to the whey (the milky liquid) after the solid curds have been extracted? Rather than throw the whey away, the Swiss make it into a soft drink, called Rivella. A fizzy drink based on 35% milk serum may sound a little odd, and look like a hospital sample, but in Switzerland it’s as popular as Coke or Pepsi. Rivella first appeared in 1952 when Dr Robert Barth combined whey with

water, sugar and a secret mix of herbs. The original red label drink was joined in 1959 by a light version with a blue label, the first diet soft drink in Europe. Then came Green Rivella (flavoured with green tea) and the less-successful Yellow Rivella, using soya instead of dairy. For outsiders, Rivella is an acquired taste (I’m still trying), but the Swiss grow up with it – or as a Rivella spokesperson once said “they are almost as familiar with it as breast milk.”

9 Comments on "Swiss Watching trivia, No 6: Rivella"

  1. Ursula Friday August 6th, 2010 at 10:30 AM · Reply

    Rivella is the Swiss equivalent of Marmite: you either love or hate it 🙂

    • swisswatching Friday August 6th, 2010 at 10:32 AM · Reply

      Exactly. As I wrote in my book, Ursula, Rivella is ‘the Marmite of the fizzy drink world’ (p221). We obviously think in the same terms!

  2. Marlies Friday August 6th, 2010 at 01:36 PM · Reply

    Thanks for this reminder. I always have some Rivella when I am back visiting. There are a few Swiss foods that I really miss and this is one of them, just like Südwurst, Zigger, Olma Bratwurst and Brät.

    • swisswatching Friday August 6th, 2010 at 01:44 PM · Reply

      How about Sugus? Starburst just aren’t as good

  3. Marlies Friday August 6th, 2010 at 05:07 PM · Reply

    I was never much into Sugus. I preferred the Migro Mi-Ka-Mu caramels. Grandma always had them in glass bowl in her bedroom and the longer they were there the softer and chewier they became.

  4. Gavin Friday August 13th, 2010 at 09:47 PM · Reply

    I’m addicted to rivella jaune and notice that it is not available widely in shops. Some coop/migros carry them and it is not widespread. Strange marketing ?

    • swisswatching Saturday August 14th, 2010 at 09:13 AM · Reply

      Hi Gavin. I think the problem is that you’re probably the only person in Switzerlan that likes yellow Rivella. It hasn’t been a success at all, so many shops now don’t bother wasting shelf space on it. Good luck finding it!

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