There’s a reason energy drinks are always in cans, and not bottles. They are the color of pee. From Red Bull to Monster to Rockstar, the original flavors of most classic energy drinks don’t look very appetizing. So it’s no wonder why rumors that Red Bull was actually made from bull semen (and other bovine byproducts) raged on for years.
So… Is Red Bull Made From Bull Pee?
I remember in middle school, Red Bull was like an illicit drug. Getting your hands on a few cans was was thrilling, turning innocent sleepovers into caffeinated benders that lasted till daybreak. But even as we indulged in sip after sour sip, there were always whispers of its nasty origins. Eww, Red Bull is made from bull piss, you know, or worse: Red Bull is made from bull semen.
In actuality, the drink is not. But it’s understanding where the rumors came from. An active ingredient in Red Bull, partially linked to its energy-giving powers, is taurine: an amino sulfonic acid found naturally in mammals. Discovered by scientists in 1827, the chemical was first isolated from ox bile and named after Taurus: the Latin word for bull.
Naturally, Red Bull drinkers assumed the worst. It doesn’t help that the brand name and logo emphasize the powerful creature. It also doesn’t help that the color of Red Bull indeed resembles bodily fluid. However, Taurine is now produced synthetically by pharmaceutical companies. The company has also stated that the taurine present in their drinks does not derive from animals.
As for the color… In 1976, Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Thai businessman who own TC Pharmaceuticals,
introduced Krating Daeng to the local market. Krating Daeng was a non-carbonated tonic beverage with caffeine and tauine, along with inositol and vitamin B. Generally, vitamin B imparts a yellowish orange hue to substances. And since all kinds of tonic drinks were explosively popular in Thailand at the time, the color was not considered a turn-off.
In fact, part of the appeal of tonics was the inclusion of exotic ingredients, like cobra extract or seal parts, according to Mel Magazine. So in Thailand, Krating Daeng was first launched with that animalistic, bull-powered branding. And six years later, Austrian businessman teamed up with Yoovidhya to introduce the drink to the West. A modified — and carbonated — version of the beverage debuted in the U.S. in 1987 under a new name: Red Bull.
The color, notably, was not altered. Neither was the iconic logo: two bulls charging against the sun.
Does Taurine Work?
According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies suggest that taurine — when combined with caffeine —improves mental performance. However, additional research is needed to confirm this; many professionals in the medical field balk at the idea that taurine can super-charge an energy drink. Likely, it’s the caffeine that does most of the lifting.
One 12-oz can of Red Bull contains 111 mg of caffeine and 1000 mg of Taurine. Ironically, competitors carry even higher rates of taurine. Monster contains 2,000 mg of taurine along with 86 mg of caffeine. Rockstar, meanwhile, is a bit stronger with 160 mg of caffeine and 2,000 mg of taurine.