Ramadan is coming,” reads a popular meme which this year has been circulating on Arab social media. Punning on a catchphrase from hit HBO program Game of Thrones – “winter is coming” – this fan-created meme has been amusing Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It might surprise you to hear that Game of Thrones is not only popular but also publicly advertised in Middle Eastern countries – even in conservative Saudi Arabia. But if you’re British, you might be even more surprised to see a bottle of Vimto in another widely circulated meme. Vimto?!
Vimto was created in 1908 by the Nichols family in Cheshire, England. Made from grapes, blackcurrants and raspberries, the drink was first served in non-alcoholic “temperance bars” in the north of England. The prefix “vim” comes from the Latin “via”, meaning “strength”, and the drink was originally marketed as such.
In the UK today, Vimto is chiefly aimed at kids and teens, and marketed with tongue-in-cheek ad campaigns. About 79 percent of sales are generated in the UK, the Middle East is now the biggest market for Vimto outside the UK.
Vimto was first exported to the Arab region in 1928. “Due to the hot climate, the beverage market has always been significantly large in this region,” writes Al Arabiya News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas for the Huffpost. “Also, at the time Vimto first arrived, very few people had refrigerators; hence a sweet, cordial and hassle-free drink would have been a natural choice.”