If you're not Scottish you may have, in passing, seen that Donald Trump's luxury golf course in Turnberry has banned the sale of Irn-Bru on its premises. If you are Scottish no doubt this news will have put you in a bad mood since this time last week, as these tweets from Kotaku UK's resident Scot (and Editor) Rich Stanton will show:
Perhaps jealous the Bru had a glowing orange aesthetic his limp tan could barely dream of replicating. Perhaps Mr Steak-with-Ketchup Double Scoop Double Filet-O-Fish doesn't know good junk food when he sees it. Wasn't his mother Scottish? They're not sending their best. SAD.
— Richard Stanton (@RichStanton) May 9, 2018
And it's true. Trump Turnberry has decided that they won't be selling Scotland's other national drink, out of fear that it will stain the carpet. Ralph Porciani, the resort's general manager, told the Ayshire Post that they can't risk it, especially since the resort has just been refurbished and the supposed cost of replacing the ballroom carpet is £500,000. For that price I really hope it's hand spun by blind Belgian nuns. He also added:
“We have villas here with Irn-Bru stains in the carpets which I can’t let.”
Obviously people have been a bit angsty about this, much like the time McDonald's arrived in Scotland and decided Irn-Bru wouldn't be on the menu. Irn-Bru even had fun with the announcement, bringing up its recently banned advert that people got upset about because it allegedly sounds like they're trying to get away with saying "cunt" on TV:
Donald - some things
you CAN get away with,
— Irn Bru (@IrnBrutime) May 9, 2018
Nobody here at Giz UK is Scottish, but we're not big fans of Donald Trump - even though this order almost certainly didn't come from the Diet Irn-Bru-tinted President. We're also quite fond of Irn-Bru because it's delicious, though we haven't sampled the low sugar variety everyone was getting upset about. So we figured, let's test this out for ourselves. Is Irn-Bru really that bad at staining carpets? Or more specifically, how bad is it compared to other popular soft drinks? We decided to find out.
Attempt #1: The Failure
We have to admit at this point, that our first attempt to test the staining abilities of various popular soft drinks was on a piece of carpet. Except we couldn't get our hands on a small piece of carpet in time, and I live in rented accommodation so couldn't exactly ruin my own carpets - not that I would if I owned the place. Also the carpets are a lovely shade of brown, which doesn't show stains very easily.
So we opted to use a carpet-like doormat instead. The mat was cut up and similar amounts of 10 different soft drinks were poured onto the mat to test how much staining would be visible when they dried, and then again after the samples had gone through a rinse cycle on my washing machine. Those ten drinks were Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Irn-Bru, Diet Irn-Bru, Fanta, Sprite, Red Bull, Diet Fanta, and smooth orange juice (from concentrate).
Aside from the fact I used too much drink, and those samples took two days to completely dry, the eventual staining was basically impossible to see. Here's a picture to show what it all looked like after it dried.
Looking very closely you could see that the Diet Coke and Diet Irn-Bru were more visible then the rest, but not by much. The underside of the mat pieces told a different story, but we weren't interested in how much staining is under the carpet. Interestingly, though, the only visible stain on the surface was the orange juice, which had the least staining on the underside. Weird, I know.
It's not clear why there wasn't much visible staining. It could be that the mat itself has some sort of weird stain resistance that you wouldn't expect from something that cost £4. Maybe the colour itself was just the right colour to hide the stains. It's impossible to say really, but rather than letting the whole idea fall away in complete disgrace we decided to continue on a different way and testing the staining capabilities on other things.
Attempt #2: A New Hope
The second time around we picked three different things to pour drinks onto: a nice shirt that got ruined by an ink stain in the middle of the back, a bathmat that totally wasn't stolen from a hotel, and a towel. Nothing special about the towel, other than the fact it's my towel and I don't care whether there are Irn-Bru stains lingering until the end of time. The number of drinks were also reduced for the sake of simplicity, so we ended up with Irn-Bru, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull, Fanta, and orange juice (from concentrate). So we set to work pouring the liquid, and letting them dry out to see what happened.
By the end of it, we found that this time the stains were very clearly there. Or at least they were on the bathmat, and to an extent the towel. The shirt came out mostly unscathed, though I probably couldn't have got away with wearing it to a nice restaurant - and not just because of the giant ink stain. You could visibly see the orange juice and Coke stains, but the rest seemed to fade away into nothingness. Weirdly the Pepsi didn't have the same overall effect as its Cola cousin.
The towel stains weren't as noticeable either, which I primarily blame on the colour - what with it being similar to the doormat used in attempt number one. The material could also have been a factor, but I can't really explain how beyond a weird gut feeling.
The strange thing is that despite the differences in all four materials, the most prominent stain came from the orange juice. Every single time. Trump resorts likely don't sell the cheapest orange juice imaginable, if they serve the concentrate stuff at all, but sadly we don't have any freshly squeezed stuff to hand. We're not made of money after all, and with the sugar tax in play buying the other stuff was pricey enough.
The Irn-Bru also featured very prominently, with a luminous pink-ish stain visible on both the mat and the towel, alongside fainter (but still clearly visible) stains for the Coke and Pepsi. The only difference between those last two, however, is that the Pepsi seemed to spread over a much larger area as it dried out on the bathmat, which is a little bit bizarre considering there wasn't any significant difference in volume compared to any of the other drinks. Red Bull and Fanta were basically invisible once they'd dried out, though Red Bull's presence was given away by its recognisable smell.
Now we just need to see what would happen after the all three things were washed.
Stage #3: The Washing
Washing isn't really the term I'd use here, since the three samples were only put on a quick rinse and spin cycle. No detergent, heated water, or anything else that regular washing cycles need, they were just flushed with cold water and spun around a bit. The logic for this being was to ensure that all the stains received an equal amount of cleaning power, which I couldn't guarantee using more traditional methods. Obviously Trump Turnberry can't tear up the carpet and throw it in the washing machine, but we did want to see what plain water would do.
We also left each sample out for a few days to make sure they were really dry and that the stains had ample time to lock themselves in place.
The initial results were pretty strange, but unsurprisingly the faint minimal staining on the shirt had all completely vanished. It's almost like it was brand new, albeit with a faint dusting of limescale and a giant ink stain. I'm pretty bitter about the ink stain, as you may be able to tell, because I really liked that shirt. Similarly the towel, which had fainter staining than the bathmat, was almost back to its old self. There's a trace of the Coke stain on the strip of non-towely material, and upon closer inspection there are some remnants of the orange juice on the right. Not much, but they're still there.
There are also some ink stains on the opposite side that I couldn't care less about. I should probably take better care of my things, and stop leaving uncapped pens lying around.
The Bathmat was a mixed bag. Most of the stains completely vanished, but the orange juice stain lingered. Well, it initially looked worse than before, which is not a good sign. After letting the mat dry off properly it calmed down a bit but was still visibly there and looked pretty bad. I'll be honest, this threw me a little bit because I only added orange juice to the testing last minute. I figured it might be worth adding fruit juice to the mix for the hell of it, and orange juice is the most common one there is. Who would have thought it was the most important one.
Final Points of Note
We're not saying that this testing was definitive or completely scientific in nature. Nor are the results a true indication of each drink's staining ability, and the effort needed to clean it up. We don't have Trump carpets around to mess about with, so we don't know exactly how serious the Irn-Bru staining issue is up in Turnberry. And unless the management decided to drive us up to investigate for ourselves (which is unlikely), we never will. The point was to gauge whether or not Irn-Bru really is such a terrible offender that it needed to be banned, while asking the question of whether there are other, worse offenders out there that may end up causing an issue for the Trump brand.
And there are, or at least there were in this case: orange juice. Not only was orange juice the only drink to visibly stain the mat during the original botched test, it was also the most prominent stain on the other three - even sticking around on the bathmat after it had gone through a single rinse cycle. The rest vanished without a trace, including the Irn-Bru. We also have to consider the fact that alcohol can cause some serious staining, especially if we're talking about exceptionally sticky stuff like Sambuca or Jagermeister. That's not to mention the infamous red wine stains. All of those are going to cause issues, especially if the carpet is as expensive as Trump Turnberry claims.
This is also not to say that Irn-Bru doesn't do anything. Pre-cleaning it did leave a very prominent luminously coloured stain, and there's no telling how that might affect a carpet nice enough to cost as much as the one in Trump Turnberry. In fact, cleaning companies have reported that Irn-Bru is the most awkward stain to get out of carpets, even beating out the likes of curry stains, red wine, and permanent marker. But clearly it's no match for my washing machine. Not that tearing up carpets to put them on a rinse cycle is remotely possible in the real world.
It certainly feels as though Irn-Bru is an easy target. Yet it has a reputation, but it's definitely not the only drink that can cause problems to carpets, clothes, and other fabricy things. The problem is those other products are far more common than Irn-Bru. The only people you're really going to piss off by banning Irn-Bru is the Scottish people, whereas scrapping other products would anger a much larger percentage of the clientelle. Hell, scrapping Coke would likely anger the big boss himself, given his notorious love of the drink and its diet counterpart. Not that he's supposed to be involved in business decisions right now.
From our testing, amazingly extensive and non-scientific as it is, it looks as through Irn-Bru is being unfairly singled out. Sure, its staining abilities may be quite severe, but lots of things leave stains that don't go away particularly quickly – as we've shown. Is this going to change the attitude held by the staff at Trump Turnberry? Unlikely. But perhaps the President is right: there is a witch hunt going on. It's just taking place in its own hotel and the victim is Irn Bru.