Vimto is a British soft drink that can be served as either a cordial, or a carbonated drink. It is flavoured with grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants! It is a very British drink.
As work dictated I found myself in Khartoum, Sudan, a dry city in a dry country at the start of a journey to a place called Bir Tawil. Whilst looking through the non-alcoholic drinks available I discovered your usual fare, but also Vimto, a drink I had not seen, or drunk in 10 years, or so. I loved this drink when I was a kid, but seeing it sold almost everywhere in Sudan was not something I expected.
I won’t go into massive detail about Bir Tawil, but it is the last unclaimed piece of land on earth. Click this link to buy our book about it.
Also here’s my top 7 drinks to have in Sudan, Vimto is one of them.
What is the Story of this Drink?
Much like all the great soft-drinks of our age, such as coco-cola Vimto was originally invented in 1908 and marketed as a “health” tonic. You see in the old days you could say anything about any crap and people would buy it. Originally called Vim-Tonic, they realized this name was a bit shit and decided to change it to something more catchy.
Originally and for most of its existence it was served as a cordial, which is like s syrup that you add water to, usually 3-4/5ths water to cordial. Since then it has expanded into carbonated flavours, which is who it is mostly sold and even variations, such as cherry vimto.
From 1990 to 2003 Vimto used the image and suggestive slogans from the legendary Purple Ronnie, before getting al artsy and politically correct.
Now this is where the Vimto story gets extremely interesting and seemingly would be the reason it is such a big deal in Sudan.
In 1968 Coca-Cola opened a bottling plant in Israel, this irked the Arab League somewhat and resulted in a boycott of Coke that would last until 1991. Cokes loss ended up being Vimtos gain. It is now not only the most popular sift-drink in the middle-east, but has even formed part of Ramadan tradition.
So, if you happen to be in a place that sells Vimto, I highly recommend this rather good British soft-drink!