Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ramadan 2016, Day 10 - Vimto

One of the unusual things about Ramadan in the Middle East is that somehow, traditionally, Arabs like to drink this during the month:

The British fruit cordial Vimto.

This is not some minor thing, in the lead up to Ramadan some places in the Gulf had to limit how many bottles of Vimto a customer could buy. Last year the company sold something like 31 million bottles in the Middle East, with about half of that occurring in the lead up and month of Ramadan

Now prior to coming to the Middle East I had never heard of Vimto, and it's not really to my liking (very sweet, I'd rather eat the fruit), but I haven't seen a day go by this Ramadan where I did not see somebody drinking it or buying it. I was curious as to why exactly this British drink became a popular Ramadan staple but my friends weren't able to answer, it had always been that way. Maybe Vimto is the Ramadan equivalent of eggnog for Christmas.

A quick Google search showed that even the British find it's popularity in the Gulf unusual. Both the Telegraph and the Independent had articles about it this year (here and here). Apparently the sweetness is one of the reasons for its popularity, after a day of fasting sugar is a good way to get some quick energy and calories so Arabs tend to gravitate towards sweet items for iftar, such as dates.

According to this website my friends were correct about Ramadan and Vimto "always being that way". Vimto first arrived in the Middle East in 1928, almost ninety years ago!

So if you're inclined to try a Ramadan tradition get some Vimto for the evening meal.

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