Ribena is one of the leading brands of juice drink in the world. The original blackcurrant flavour is still the most popular but the drink also comes in other flavours such as strawberry, apple, orange and lighter versions. The drinks are produced in the iconic squash cordial and also as ready to drink bottles and cartons.
Ribena was originally manufactured by the Bristol-based food and drink company HW Carter as a blackcurrant cordial. Development research into pure fruit syrups for the manufacture of milkshakes had been done at the Long Ashton Agriculture and Horticulture Research Station in north Somerset.
Ribena was essentially invented there by Dr. Vernon Charley. The blackcurrant variety was found to contain high levels of Vitamin C. The drink was launched in 1936 under the name Ribena (from the botanical name for the blackcurrant, Ribes nigrum). During the war many fruits rich in vitamin C were impossible to obtain. From 1942, almost the entire British blackcurrant crop was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial), almost all of it manufactured by Carters, and distributed to the nation's children for free without the Ribena brand name, giving rise to the lasting popularity of blackcurrant flavourings in Britain.
Ribena is now manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and ninety-five per cent of the total blackcurrant crop in the UK is processed into Ribena.
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