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Dietrich Mateschitz was born in 1946, a native of the Styria (Steiermark) region of Austria. As a student in Vienna, he studied world trade and commerce. After graduating, he worked for Unilever, then Blendax, a German manufacturer of toothpaste. This position involved much global travel.
In 1982, Mateschitz visited Thailand and brought home with him a number of energy drinks he sampled there. According to The Economist, Mateschitz was sold on a product called Krating Daeng after it took away his jet lag. He later claimed to consume up to eight of the drinks a day.
Krating Daeng, which is Thai for "Red Bull," was a drink popular among cab drivers and other blue collar workers. It had been produced since the early 1970s by the T.C. Pharmaceutical Co., founded in Thailand in 1962 by Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Blendax licensee. (T.C. Pharmaceutical eventually formed the subsidiary Red Bull Beverage Co. Ltd.)
Mateschitz founded Red Bull GmbH in Austria in 1984 as a 49 percent partner with Chaleo Yoovidhya and his son. The company began marketing its namesake drink in Austria in 1987; a million cans were sold in the year.
The original formula was altered for Western palates. Some ingredients were dropped and carbonation was added. Components of the legendary elixir included B vitamins, glucuronolactone, sodium, and caffeine. One ingredient, the amino acid taurine, was derived synthetically, not from bull testicles, as rumor had it. Red Bull's selling proposition was that it increased stamina and mental concentration, making it a natural for one of the original target users, long-distance drivers. The taste of the thick yellow beverage, said to be akin to liquid gummi bears, lent added distinction to the brand.