Forget Caffeine: Where’s the Ironport?

The recent hubbub on BYU’s campus about the selling of caffeinated drinks misses the mark. Sure, there is some demand for caffeine; this is a college campus. It’s not about the flavor. It’s about sleeping too little and needing a boost to remain conscious through early morning or afternoon classes. (Is there any class harder to stay awake through than the one after lunch when they turn down the lights and start showing slides?) Or it’s about living up to your personal standards, which may or may not align with those of other Honor Code compliant students, faculty, and staff. (I almost wrote Honor Code complaint; that is clearly not the purpose of this post.)

As for it being too difficult for BYU food services to change the syrups and labels on their on tap offerings, or stocking a different selection of beverages in their machines, to that I say pfui. That can’t be harder than stocking caffeine-free diet Mountain Dew.

But the great failing of BYU’s soda selection has nothing to do with caffeine: it is the complete absence of Ironport, also called Iron Port (two words), from the Cougareat. I discovered Ironport at a couple of the little independent hamburger joints here in Provo. It’s a locally distributed soda rumored to be named after Porter Rockwell. The merits of its flavor are not the point; this is an idiosyncratic Mormon country drink that nods to one of the most colorful characters in our history. If there is any place that should serve Ironport, it’s BYU. I can’t think of anything on campus, no building at least, named after Porter Rockwell. He’s not known for his contributions to scholarship and academia, but unlike many of the Heritage Halls namesakes’, for example, Rockwell is at least known to anyone who has a passing knowledge of LDS history.

I think a beverage is a great little tribute BYU could pay to Rockwell (even if the brew was not in fact originally named for him). And if BYU does ever allow regular Coke on campus, we could all tip our hats to President McKay who once said, “I don’t care what it says on the cup, as long as there is a Coke in the cup” (David O. McKay and The Rise of Modern Mormonism, p.23).


My thanks to Wikipedia that gave some backstory to this little beverage I discovered at the Rocky Mountain Drive on State Street in Provo ( And don’t forget the check out the Ironport fan blog here.

16 comments for “Forget Caffeine: Where’s the Ironport?

  1. Well as I understand it BYU has a contract with Coco Cola which means they can’t sell non Coke products on campus.

  2. BYU has a contract with Coco Cola

    That would explain why, when I was a student there, BYU stocked Powerade rather than the infinitely better Gatorade.

  3. A few years ago I was visiting Logan on a hot day and stopped in to the Bluebird for lunch. The Ironport with cherry was divine, and I drank them as fast as they could bring them to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had any pop that tasted better.

  4. Can this Ironport be purchased anywhere not in a restaurant? This sounds worth a trip down from Logan.

    “I don’t care what it says on the cup, as long as there is a Coke in the cup” – This is going on my office board.

  5. mikka, the wikipedia link above has a list of restaurants where Ironport is available.

    Nathan-“cream soda made with molasses”-I’m still chuckling about that description.

    Bryan S-I’m curious about how the beverage contracts work. I’m sure the beverage industry tries to make them as comprehensive as possible, and it seems like the two main companies, CocaCola and PepsiCo. offer similar products (both have a caffeine free lemon lime drink, a root beer, and a cola, with all of the usual variations). They even have their own brands of bottled water. I guess we’re lucky they’re not in the dairy business (or are they?), because the creamery and BYU’s brand of milk could be an infringement or require a special exception

  6. I haven’t seen the actual contract and they are always different. Some aren’t exclusive contracts like the one BYU has. For example if you go to McDonald’s they have both Pepsi and Coke products.

    I don’t know if the contract is exclusive to products that directly compete with Coke products (i.e. Soda, Water, Powerade) which let’s BYU produce it’s own milk. Or if the contract only excludes external products so BYU could make their own sodas too if they wanted. I know BYU has the Y Sparkle soda flavor. But that also isn’t a flavor that coke has so maybe it’s not a direct competition or maybe BYU can make their own things.

    I am pretty sure that Ironport would not be allowed due to the contract terms though.

  7. For a minute I was afraid you had mis-remembered the name and were referring to Irn-Bru, a completely undrinkable concoction invented by the Scots as revenge on teetotalers who won’t drink their whiskey.

    And it works. One sip of Irn-Bru and you’re looking for the nearest distillery with a tasting room at the end of the tour.

  8. I suppose the strangest thing about the contract that BYU food services must have with CocaCola is that their signature drink, basic Coke, is excluded.

  9. Iron port was a staple at soda fountains everywhere when I was growing up. Must be a come back at the little burger joints you have found it in.

  10. Once upon a time (in the 80s) you could get Iron Port at the soda fountain in the Helaman Halls Cannon Center. So it has been available on BYU campus in the past — I don’t know if that was possibly before the Coke contract.

  11. Mark B., for maligning my beloved Irn Bru (which, in case anyone’s wondering, tastes like an orange cream soda), I challenge you to a Scottish duel. Kabers tossed at twenty paces!

    They serve iron port at the Farr’s Ice Cream kitty-corner from the Ogden Temple, and possibly at other Farr’s outlets.

  12. Laura, I don’t remember Ironport, but I do remember Green River (still find it here occasionally). Was that at Susies’ sundries?

  13. Not sure anybody will see this question, but I’ve been looking for a post about the Church’s statement on caffeine. I remember someone mentioning that the church issued a statement on it, then that very day issued a “clarified” statement. Doesn’t anybody know where I can find this?

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