Rivella. A few curiosities about the most loved soft drink in Switzerland

If your native language is not German you will hardly know Rivella, but if you’re Swiss you are most likely to have at least one bottle in the fridge and that the brand evokes pleasant memories of summers days spent in the mountains.

This typical Swiss drink has no doubt a special character, subverts expectations, doesn’t leave anyone indifferent: in short, you love it or you hate it. Some even argue that you have to be raised with it to truly appreciate it.

What every Swiss person knows but often leaves others confused is that milk whey is main ingredient of Rivella. Rather bizarre for a refreshing fizzy drink. Yet it seems that this is the element that gives it the unmistakable flavor.
What very few know is the origin of the name: it seems like the company’s founder, Robert Barth, was inspired by the Italian word “Rivelazione” and the train station in Ticino Riva San Vitale (yes, right near our offices!).

Today if Switzerland was to have a national drink, it would probably be Rivella. Not quite the same when it was founded. The beginning was a real disaster. In 1949, Jean Barth, brother of the future founder Robert Barth, sought to sell a recipe to produce a kind of beer made from whey in the United States, but in the hometown of Coca-Cola the attempt miserably failed.
Two years later his brother Robert, with the support of the biologist Hans Süsli Zurich, drastically revised the recipe for a soft drink. This time it worked out. The production of the drink made from whey, water, herbal extracts, fruit and sugar that nowadays every Swiss loves began in 1952.

PS: in the video above, which thanks to BuzzFeed has become popular in these last few days, you can see the reaction of some American youngsters who tasted Rivella for the first time. Quite funny, isn’t it? :)


Rivella, Swiss soft drink - Advertising posters
A few Rivella’s advertising posters from 1955, 1975 and 2015 | © Rivella SA