In Austria, 27 years ago today, the first can of Red Bull was sold. Even if you've never ridden the bull yourself, chances are you've interacted with the brand in one way or another, thanks to some of the most omnipresent marketing campaigns in history. Since its early days, Red Bull has positioned itself into almost every active pursuit a human being can attempt, making the beverage itself feel like more of an afterthought. From the extreme athletic sponsorships to its eastern origins, here are 17 things you probably didn't know about Red Bull.
1. The original Red Bull was a Thai energy drink called "Krating Daeng."
Marketed to truckers, farmers, and construction workers, the original had a similar blend of caffeine and taurine to keep sleep at bay. Unbelievably, the classic version is actually sweeter than the European version.
2. Jet lag brought Red Bull from its humble beginnings to the international stage.
Silver fox Dietrich Mateschitz felt a little sluggish and found that a peculiar Thai drink cured his plane hangover. Flashing his trademark (currently $9.6 billion dollar) smile at creator Chaleo Yoovidhya, he made plans to bring the drink to Europe and reformulated it into a "berry" flavor, which they figured would best sit with the European palate.
3. Red Bull sent someone to space.
You probably do know this one, but let's just go over it again because it's nuts. They sent someone to SPACE. IN A BALLOON. WHO JUMPED OUT, BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER ON THE WAY DOWN. Mind blown.
4. All the cans of Red Bull sold in 2013 add up to 475 tons of caffeine.
That's the weight of 287 Honda Accords, 179 F-150s, 7 Abrams tanks, or one Boeing 747.
5. The logo's red bulls are not actually cattle.
They are actually "guars," the brick-colored largest members of the bovine family. They are usually listed as the fifth heaviest animal after elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes.
6. Red Bull has its own record label.
Obviously called Red Bull Records, the label is headed by a former VP at Atlantic Records. The best known group on the label is Awolnation
, who cracked the top ten on the Billboard Rock charts.
7. Red Bull's first foray into sporting events was the Dolomitenmann, billed as the "world's toughest team relay race."
The event combines running, paragliding, whitewater kayaking, and mountain biking, so it essentially recreates a Bond chase scene through the picturesque Tyrol mountains of Austria.
8. Red Bull has a DIY human-powered plane contest called "Flugtag."
In the contest, teams build planes and launch them off a 20-foot high deck. Since they all crash into the water below, they are judged by "creativity and showmanship" as well as distance.
9. It's estimated that Red Bull has spent over half a billion dollars on F1 each year.
Which makes sense because they're the only company to ever own two teams simultaneously. They also love to show off their cars and frequently drive them in odd places, taking them on high mountain passes, ice, and Texas dirt roads.
10. There's a special version of Red Bull only available to Formula 1 VIPs.
editor has tried it and says it is fantastic.
11. Red Bull also has non-scary aviation hobbies, like this paper airplane tournament.
The Red Bull Paper Wings contest judges longest airtime, distance, and aerobatics. We haven't heard of any injuries reported thus far.
12. Red Bull likes to break a mental sweat too.
Red Bull lists Tania Sachdev, an Indian chess player, as well as numerous video gamers on its list of "athletes
13. Red Bull is pretty much ESPN 8 "the Ocho."
Cliff diving, soapbox racing, "crashed ice
," and so much more
. It almost feels weird that they have four very normal soccer teams. But then you remember that they have four
soccer teams, which is certainly not normal.
14. Red Bull was initially unavailable in some countries due to concerns about its stimulant qualities.
However, Red Bull was vindicated as a safe drink when the concerns turned out to be unfounded. Red Bull contains the same amount of caffeine (80mg in every 250mL can) as a normal cup of coffee, and is currently available in 165 countries. For comparison, a 16 ounce Starbucks Grande has 330mg.
15. Red Bull Cola has only natural ingredients.
Seriously. Pepsi and Coke can't say the same. Swish that around in your mouth for a moment. Actually don't — it'll rot your teeth 'cause it's still loaded with sugar.
16. Maybe too natural, as German authorities found trace amounts of cocaine.
Although Red Bull Cola uses genuine Kola nuts and decocainized coca leaf extract in its production, some of the active ingredient showed up on a German food regulator's radar and a hubbub ensued. Since only 0.13 micrograms were found in each can, the product was deemed safe, and the drink was put back on sale.
17. Red Bull HQ looks like a Bond villain's lair.
With such a vast empire, is Red Bull merely a scheme for global domination? Let's hope not.
Ethan Wolff-Mann is the Gear editor of Supercompressor. Red Bull has not made him fly yet. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.