According to its manufacturers, Rivella is 'the official thirst quencher of Switzerland'.
With around 200,000 litres of the stuff consumed in der Schweiz every day - around 10 litres per person annually - you can see where they're coming from. And having been here a few weeks I have no reason to think this claim flawed. The Swiss seem to be guzzling this stuff everywhere we go. In fact, I'm told only the behemoth that is Coca Cola flogs more bottles of fizzy beverage in Switzerland than Rivella.
So, what is this Swiss elixir? Well, created by a chap called Robert Barth in 1952, it is an alcohol free carbonated drink flavoured with fruit and herbs. What makes Rivella somewhat unique is that it is 35% 'milchserum' or whey as we call it. As such, it is not for the lactose intolerant and contains minerals and calcium. They also throw in some lactic acid which it is claimed 'restricts the activity of putrefactive bacteria' in the gut. Yummy!
In addition to the red label 'original' Rivella (pictured) there is a blue version (low calorie), a green version (with green tea extract) and a yellow version (made with soy instead of milk).
To date Zoe and I have only tried the original version and I have to say I quite like it. It tastes a bit like a less chemically enhanced iron brew and it's quite refreshing. In fact, I bought a bottle of the stuff today just cos I fancied it.
They sell loads of the stuff in some other countries on the continent too, particularly the Netherlands, but I've never even seen it in the UK. Apparently they did launch it to the British public with quite some fanfare back in 1999 but it failed miserably and disappeared from shelves, with a similarly sad story for the US launch.
I read it didn't take off in the UK because British people see milk drinks as something for babies, or milk something to add to tea. Well, quite right too. But the fact is there's nothing milky about Rivella at all in terms of appearance or taste. I wonder if we Brits might have missed out there.
Anyway, you can find more about Rivella and its ingredients here and, if this post has got you thirsty for a whey based refreshment, you can buy it online and have it delivered to the UK from here.
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.