Historic Falkirk drink is going on a diet

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The “other national drink” that (possibly) originated in Falkirk is about to take the most radical step in its history - amid heavy opposition.

Former Rangers FC star Ally McCoist is the latest high-profile fan of A G Barr’s sickly-sweet Irn-Bru to urge a rethink on the decision to massively cut the drink’s sugar content.

It’s a move which chimes with the demands of health campaigners, who for years have stressed the health risks said to be involved in drinking large quantities of sugary fizzy drinks.

The move also comes at the same time as a debate over whether government should be taking steps to legally cut the amount of sugar in foods of all kinds.

But many diehard fans of the viscous orange-coloured drink are said to be stockpiling supplies of their favourite non-alcoholic tipple ahead of the likely introduction of the reduced sugar version - possibly as soon as February.

The sugar content per 100ml will reduce from 10.3g to 4.7g.

For a time old and new products may be on shop shelves together, so customers are advised remember to check the label.

Regular Irn-Bru will remain a sugary drink but will now be blended with a mix of low calorie sweeteners including aspartame.

A G Barr says people with diabetes should be aware of the carbohydrate content change and should seek medical advice.

Meanwhile the Falkirk connection to the brand’s history continues to intrigue.

Barr opened a large plant in Glasgow in 1887, and was employing 600 people by 1905 - it’s famous secret recipe “Iron Brew” appeared in 1901.

But, Falkirk historian Ian Scott reported some years ago, it’s not clear whether it was created in Falkirk or Glasgow first.

He said: “It was certainly made and distributed from both places and became a huge best seller with famous sportsmen of the day queuing up to endorse its powers!

“But Barr’s were not alone. As well as Neilson’s, the district had Scotts and Dalziel & Clark in Grahamston, Reid Brothers and the Star Company in Bainsford, Porteous Murray of Larbert and Thomson and Sons of Stenhousemuir”.

Far from being a vague memory of a distant past the local connection with Irn-Bru included a wall-end mural in Cockburn Street, and in 2015 there was a local campaign to have this restored to its former glory.

Production of Irn-Bru moved to Cumbernauld in 2001.