If you are contemplating a move from outside Scotland to come to Aberdeen to work for RGU, you will probably already know that Scotland’s national drink is the world-famous Scotch whisky. If you live in Scotland, you’ll also know that our other national drink is Barr’s IRN-BRU, a vibrant, orange-coloured fizzy concotion that is so well-loved here that Scotland is supposedly the only country in the world where Coca Cola is not the most popular soft-drink. Part of IRN-BRU’s Bru’s is that it is allegedly a good hangover cure. It must also be said that it’s not a drink you want to spill on a white carpet or furnishings.
However, leaving all that on one side, although I’ve known about IRN BRU ever since I came to live here, one thing I wasn’t aware of is that it’s logo, which features a 19th century strongman, is based on an Aberdeenshire athlete called Donald Dinnie.
As the AberdeenLive website tells us, he was born near Aboyne and had won his first wrestling prize by the age of 15. He was Scotland’s athletic champion between 1856 and 1876 and toured the world, beating wrestling champions in New Zealand and South Africa. He made a very successful living out of his strength and athletic prowess. Measuring just over 6 foot (huge for this time), Donald weighed in at 15 stone and had a chest measurement of 48 inches and biceps of 15 inches. He was reputed to have met every European monarch and it was even claimed that in the First World War, artillery shells were nicknamed ‘Donald Dinnies.’
His connection with IRN BRU came about in 1903, when Robert Barr asked Dinnie to endorse his Iron Brew (as it then was) soft-drink. Ever the businessman, Donald agreed, saying that IRN-BRU was ideal for those “who wish to aspire to athletic fame.” Consequently, he became immortalised on the IRN-BRU can – although we must also say that Advertising Standards probably wouldn’t allow his claim about the health benefits of this incredibly popular orange drink nowadays…
Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU