Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (2023)

Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (1)

Originally published in French onhell story

A good storyteller would tell you the origins of the Rivella by emulating the success stories imported from the USA. Finally, the practice is common. It's a dream come true: Two (almost) normal people tinker with their computers in a humble garage and (almost) miraculously create the most powerful search engine in the world.

But the story of the Rivella doesn't begin in a garage, but in a bathroom. The story of Robert Barth, a Zurich law student who had the brains to spot a promising niche market. But his genius would not have gotten far without the invaluable help of several members of his entourage and without a particularly favorable economic environment. A look back at the origins of a lemonade that has been making the Swiss foam for almost seventy years.

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Wei brothers

In 1951, Jean Barth (our Robert's brother) returned to Switzerland after a stay in the United States that left him with a bitter taste. He hoped to launch a beer based on whey, a drink also known as whey. Convinced of his concept, he set out with the soul of a conqueror. Unfortunately for him, he soon became disillusioned as the Americans saw no need to follow him on his adventure.

Upon his return, his brother Robert decided to recycle his idea. After all, the history of whey has everything to attract the consumer. As early as the 18th century, the liquid was touted by tourists passing through Switzerland: it was said to have healing powers that could cure many diseases. By the mid-20th century, whey was available in industrial quantities. Do you know why? Quite simply because it is made by processing milk into cheese, which was produced in large quantities in the 1950s.

Robert Barth, 29, experimented with whey in his bathroom to develop his recipe, which to this day is as secret as Coca-Cola's (and every other smart brand, you might say) recipe. In order to refine his mixture, he takes advice from an employee at the Institute for Dairy Technology at ETH Zurich.

Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (2)

Our man soon founded his company, with a somewhat obscure name that is more reminiscent of a research laboratory than a liquor store: "Milkin Institute Robert R. Barth". He settled in Stäfa, a municipality in Zurich with around 5,000 inhabitants. Cautious and careful not to waste his money, he buys used machines... and hires his first employees.

birth of a brand

Brewing a nice drink, starting your own business, finding real estate... It's all well and good, but you still need to be able to sell your wares. And commercial success depends primarily on choosing a name that is easy to remember, pleasing to the ear and pronounceable in all languages.


Robert Barth's head was racked. He was aware that mastering marketing would help his future success, and he wanted to come up with an attractive name.

According to legend, he came across the name "Riva San Vitale" while browsing an SBB station directory. From here he is said to have received the name of his brand. The problem is that it is a village in Ticino and Swiss law does not allow the use of place names for consumer goods. Robert Barth drinks the cup.

The brainstorming sessions continue. Sudden enlightenment! Why don't you call his drink "Rivelazione" ("Revelation" in French)? Our brave Robert seems to have a soft spot for the Italian language. But isn't this name too long and difficult to remember? Wait... How about "Rivella" instead? Short, simple, effective. That's perfect! Robert Barth's advertising consultant agrees.

The company is officially opened on March 13, 1952. On this occasion, Robert Barth invited the press, which would no doubt write good articles about the Rivella. The future looked bright.

Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (3)

A "healthy" drink?

Rivella soon becomes popular. Consumers enjoy the taste of the new drink, while the company is flooding the newspapers with advertisements to spread the brand across Switzerland. And the sales arguments are bubbling: Rivella would be ideal for cures and sports sessions. It would regulate the body and would be particularly suitable for sensitive stomachs... look at the ads:

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Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (4)
Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (5)

Of course, that roar makes people smile today, knowing that a single glass of red Rivella contains a whopping 23 grams of sugar... Still, in the early days of its existence, the brand had kept up with the times.

In the 1950s, Swiss society experienced profound changes. Thanks to the economic growth that characterized this period, mass consumption grew rapidly: The three decades after the Second World War were not called the "Magnificent Thirty" for nothing.

Households got richer. They used these boom years to buy refrigerators, cars, washing machines, and other electronics. At the same time, the right to paid vacation in Switzerland gradually gained in importance: as early as 1947, the people of Vaud passed a law that guaranteed two weeks of paid vacation per year.

Free time from work allowed people to spend their free time traveling, cultural excursions, and walking. Rivella jumped into the breach and tries to link his name to the Swiss' new favorite pastimes, like sports. The company has been the official partner of the national ski team since 1977. Meadow and snow: the main ingredients of patriotic images come together. Chance? Not really. It's about ensuring the success of the brand.

Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (6)

turbulence and cruising speed

However, the first few years of work will not be easy for Robert Barth and his team. A few clouds darken the horizon: the Swiss Mineral Water Association is angry about this competition and is trying to organize a boycott of Rivella. But that didn't work. have too serious consequences, because many partners remained loyal to the Stäfa company.

(Video) Whey

The company did not remain in Stäfa for long after all. In 1952 they began to feel cramped in their original premises. The acquisition of a larger production facility had to be considered. Rivella needed space to produce more, sell more bottles and eventually conquer the Swiss market. After careful consideration, the move to Rothrist in Aargau was decided in 1945.

Over time, the company grew and sales increased. In the second half of the 1950s, the company even exported its famous drink abroad, initially to the Netherlands. Rivella has chosen the Dutch regions to launch its blue, low-sugar variant. As a reminder, Rivella bleu was developed thanks to the Dutch Diabetes Association.

Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland (7)

However, Rivella was unsuccessful. In many countries such as Great Britain, Australia, Sweden and Japan it has not managed to establish itself permanently. In 2008, the brand attempted to launch a yellow variant made from soy, but never found an audience.

Despite everything, Rivella remains a ubiquitous drink, thanks to a promotional strategy mostly focused on sporting events. And thanks to the unshakable love of the Swiss, who each drink about ten liters a year. Health!

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Where does the name Rivella come from? | Edible Switzerland? ›

The name “Rivella,” combines two distinct influences.

What is Rivella in Switzerland? ›

Rivella is seen as Switzerland's national beverage combining great taste and Swiss freshness. In 1950 Roberth Barth and the biologist Hans Süsli used a recipe initially conceived to produce a beer made with whey to create a soft drink, which came to be marketed as Rivella Rot in 1952, when Rivella AG was founded.

What is the difference between Rivella Red and Rivella Blue? ›

While the Red Rivella taste is a little too sweet for some adults, the Rivella Blue is much more palatable and neutral. So if it is your first time drinking it, the sugar-free version may be the way to go. Other phenomenal Rivella flavors include green tea, rhubarb, and even tropical mango.

What is the national drink of Switzerland? ›

Rivella – Whey makes it possible

Rivella is the unsung national drink of Mr and Mrs Swiss. It was invented by a lawyer, and is made from a 'by-product'. The story of a special liquid blend.

Where is Rivella made of? ›

First produced in 1952, Rivella is one of Switzerland's most iconic drinks. According to their website, it is made from milk serum (also known as whey), herb and fruit tea extract, water, sugar and fizz. The whey is what makes the drink particularly Swiss.

What is the Swiss drink called most? ›

Swiss Non Alcoholic Drinks

My favorite non alcoholic Swiss drinks is called Sussmost, which is a carbonated swiss soft drink made with apple juice. Most or Moscht is the juice from apples, like a cloudy cider, but mix it with sparkling water and you have Sussmost.

What is the most famous drink in Switzerland? ›

Rivella is one of the most popular soft drinks in Switzerland and it is one of the Swiss drinks you should try. Chances are, every Swiss household has a bottle of Rivella lying around somewhere. Yes, it is one of the top-selling soft drinks and it is also considered Switzerland's national drink.

Who invented Rivella? ›

Rivella started in the 1950s.

Robert Barth founded a company called the Milkin-Institut. One year later, it began the first production of Rivella in 1952.

What does the drink Rivella taste like? ›

The taste of original beverage (the one sold in red bottles) has been described as “gingery,” “candy-like”, and “fruity.” It definitely doesn't taste like milk, though. This video shows how Americans react to Rivella.

Is Rivella good for you? ›

Whey beverages can aid weight loss while preserving lean muscle mass. Consequently, drinking Rivella while practicing an active lifestyle will get you in shape much faster. In addition, whey protein is effective in moderating blood sugar, increasing the levels of insulin, and keeping it within healthy limits.

What is the main dish of Switzerland? ›

The Swiss answer to potato lakes or hash browns, rosti is the national dish of Switzerland. Thinly slices potatoes are fried in oil. The classic rosti is only potato, but you'll also find eggs, bacon, apple, and cheese mixed in. Pair rosti with eggs or breakfast sausages for a hearty, traditional Swiss meal.

What's the drinking age in Switzerland? ›

Alcohol is sold in supermarkets. The age limit for the purchase of wine and beer is 16 years, and 18 years for high-proof alcohol. There is no nationwide minimum age for the purchase of tobacco in Switzerland. Depending on the canton, the minimum age is either 16 or 18.

Do you tip in Switzerland? ›

The customary tip size in Switzerland is equal to around 10 percent of the bill. Most commonly, the amount owed for the bill is rounded up, with the difference making up the tip. Whether or not the tip is exactly 10 percent of the bill is not important.

What is the history of Rivella? ›

History. In 1950 Roberth Barth and the biologist Hans Süsli Zurich used a recipe initially conceived to produce a beer made with whey to create a soft drink, which came to be marketed as Rivella Red in 1952, when Rivella AG was founded.

What flavor is Rivella original? ›

Rivella Red Original has a subtle blend of natural flavors that is both sparkling and iconic. Its taste is difficult to describe to those who have never tried it, but it is often described as herbal and ginger-like with a refreshing and inimitable flavor.

What kind of milk is Swiss made from? ›

The basics

"The vast majority of cheeses made in Switzerland are made of cow's milk," explains Thorpe. "It's really unusual to find a sheep's or goat's milk cheese — they exist, but very, very nominally.

What kind of drink is Rivella? ›

Rivella is a soft drink from Switzerland, created by Robert Barth in 1952, which is produced from milk whey, and therefore includes ingredients such as lactose, lactic acid and minerals.

What is Rivella flavor? ›

Rivella Red Original has a subtle blend of natural flavors that is both sparkling and iconic. Its taste is difficult to describe to those who have never tried it, but it is often described as herbal and ginger-like with a refreshing and inimitable flavor.

Does Rivella taste like ginger ale? ›

If you haven't had Rivella we think it tastes a bit like ginger ale with a splash of coke. It's not as sweet at the sodas found in the US.


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