The iconic summer of 1976 was an unforgettable one. As in 2022, it was hot but there was more. The delicious fresh lemonade ‘Colibri’ by Lecocq Flavours, broke all heat records then and was one of the best-known soft drinks in our country. The consumption of lemonade with Colibri on top (Coli lemon and Coli orange and cola), then still in glass bottles rose by as much as more than 50 per cent! For thirst, nothing was better than a fresh Colibri! That was what the advertising posters read. The Colibri had a unique flavour.
Lecocq had been active in the lemonade market since the 1930s. Even the big department store chain Sarma used Lecocq Flavours' flavours to make a house lemonade. But the main lemonade customer found Lecocq Flavours closer to home. In 1959, the breweries of Alken, of Lamot in Mechelen and of Meiresonne in Ghent jointly launched a lemonade, under the name Colibri.
By doing so, they wanted to counter the growing success of Coca Cola. Lecocq supplied the extracts to Lamot and Alken for the soft drinks, and the lemonade was given the name Colibri. A name that became a household name throughout Belgium. Colibri's three flavours - lemon, orange and decaffeinated cola - became an instant success.
In 1960, Lecocq even built a large lemonade department in his factory on Lazarijstraat in Hasselt. By 1962, Colibri was already the third largest lemonade in our country. And in the hot summer of 1976, Colibri sales even beat all records. So not only Lucien Van Impe with his Tour victory and runner Ivo Vandamme with his two medals at the Montreal Olympics did well! 1976 was also the year of the 25th anniversary of the reign of Baudouin and Fabiola and Lecocq Flavours has a link to that too. By the way, the book Taste-100 years of Lecocq Flavours is also included in the heritage collection of the Royal Library in Brussels.
Lecocq Flavours produced cloudy fruit extracts as clear flavourings in its lemonade division in Hasselt. The flavour of the extracts was diverse, from lemon, orange, and cola, to grenadine, mandarin as cassis. Dyes such as orange orange to strawberry red as mint green were also made. To this day, Lecocq Flavours continues to develop flavours for all kinds of soft drinks.
The hot summer
In Uccle, the RMI counted 16 tropical days in 1976. At the end of July and the beginning of August it is a bit cooler. The rest of August remains summer hot, with maxima not dropping below 25 degrees for days on end. At the end, it is the warmest ever, with an average temperature of 19.2 degrees. Consumption of what Flemings then call "lemonade" rises by half, beer consumption by 33%. In and around Mere, village of Lucien Van Impe, people even run out of supplies when the local cycling hero gets to don the yellow in the Tour. He rode it over the finishing line in Paris: the sporting achievement of the year.
Philip De Hollogne
Source (HLN en Smaak-100 jaar Lecocq Flavours)