R. White’s is a brand of lemonade that has been produced for over 150 years. Robert and Mary White produced the first R. White’s lemonade in Camberwell, London, in 1845. The White Family took over H.D.Rawlings Ltd., in 1891, the year that it was incorporated, and then R.White & Sons Ltd., was itself incorporated in 1894.
In the 1970s, R White’s also made orangeade, dandelion & burdock and cream soda. R. White’s still contains real lemons and is available as a diet, cloudy or clear drink.
The Company was taken over by Whitbreads in the 1960s, and was later absorbed by the Britvic Corporation in 1986 when Britvic and Canada Dry Rawlings Ltd, merged. This product, formerly made using real sugar, has (as of 2006) changed the traditional recipe replacing sugar with Aspartame, Saccharin & Acesulfame K.
Stables, South Island Place, Brixton, 1964. The R White’s lemonade bottle in the foreground was an icon of London life at the time. The bottle was made from thick glass and was returned to the store where it was purchased, a deposit then refunded. The screw top was made of bakelite, not plastic.
1973 saw the launch of the brand’s most famous advertising campaign, ‘The Secret Lemonade Drinker’, which remained on screen until 1984. The ad featured a man in striped pyjamas creeping downstairs to raid the fridge for R Whites Lemonade. Ross MacManus (the father of singer Elvis Costello) wrote and sang the original song with his teenage son, providing backing vocals. The ad won a silver award at the 1974 International Advertising Festival.
Who can forget John Otway looking like Hank Marvin sneaking down the stairs singing “I’m a secret lemonade drinker” Then the chorus “R Whites, R Whites, R Whites lemonade” A Classic advert!