How the soda creation of a U of U alum became the official drink BYU students throw back at sporting events.
Before home BYU games for years now, the ROC—BYU’s “Roar of Cougars” student section—has served a signature mixed drink called the George Randal, or simply, the “Randal,” to pump up students before gametime. The ROC hands out Randals at each football tailgate party as well as to students waiting in line for other sports games.
ROC members have even served the drink to ESPN commentators. “I drank the whole thing. It was very good,” ESPN’s Bill Walton declared on national television while covering the 2013 BYU vs. Mercer NIT game.
So what’s in the drink, and how did it come about?
The non-alcoholic, carbonated, cherry-and-lime concoction is named after none other than a diehard University of Utah alum.
Who is George Randal?
George Randal Barker never imagined his affinity for mixing flavors into soda would earn him an eponymous beverage—much less a beverage beloved by BYU students.
“All I did was create some goodness and invite others to partake,” says Barker, who was known at family get-togethers for mixing fresh-squeezed lime juice and flavor syrups into various diet sodas, especially Diet Coke.
When Coca-Cola released Diet Coke with Lime, Barker’s brothers-in-law, including BYU football academic advisor Jim O. Hamblin (BA ’91, MED ’01), teased him, saying the company stole his creations. Then when PepsiCo later released Diet Code Red Mountain Dew—basically Mountain Dew with a kick of cherry—Barker started adding lime to it as well. Determined not to get his idea stolen this time, Barker’s brothers-in-law said he ought to claim the Code Red and lime mix as his own.
“They said, ‘If you develop a drink, we ought to have a name for it,’” Barker recalls, and so he slapped one on his new beverage of choice—Diet Code Red Mountain Dew mixed with fresh limes. “I said, ‘We’ll call it the George Randal!’”
“Like a Shirley Temple,” he explains.
From then on, the Randal became a family tradition—but it didn’t stay under wraps for long. Hamblin’s son, then BYU student Joshua J. Hamblin (BS ’15) began serving the drink to BYU friends, including Chad W. Burton (BA ’16), an EFY counselor at the time. From there, they started sharing the drink with other EFY counselors and friends, creating an official “Randal Club” complete with t-shirts and their own private Facebook group. Meanwhile, Hamblin senior had a reputation for mixing the drink and serving it out of his BYU office.
“This is Jim-alicious here,” Hamblin says of his personal soda dispensary at BYU. “Sodalicious has got nothing on me.”
From there on, the Randal stayed between the zealous group of friends—until Burton started handing out the drink at BYU basketball games.
Official ROC Drink
At first Burton started bringing Randals to the games on his own dime, trying to get fellow students ‘stoked’—“which is the feeling you get when you drink a Randal,” Burton explains—before games.
He didn’t have much luck until students Brian D. Fagan (BA ’16) and Preston N. Darger (BA ’14) at BYU Athletic Marketing first had a taste. “They fell in love, as does everyone when they first sip the George Randal,” Burton says.
From there the marketing team provided Randals for Burton to give out, and before long the ROC tweeted that the Randal was its official drink. The fervor for the fizz continued when Burton became ROC president the following fall—the first year students started camping out before games and that the ROC was combined in a single student section.
That football season Burton kept fanning the flames, making shirts that read “rYse and Randal” and sharing the drink with every commentator he could—including Bill Walton, Dave McCann, and Greg Wrubell. “Having it mentioned on-air added a ton of enthusiasm to the games,” Burton says.
The drink has had its ups and downs in popularity in the years since, but current ROC President Zachary S. Hosman (’19) has made the Randal officially part of the ROC once more—a tradition Barker and Hamblin still find hard to believe after all these years.
“It’s the ROC presidents who are doing it,” Hamblin says. They will be handing it out to people in line at volleyball games. They’ll say, “‘Hey, here’s a George Randal drink, it’s really yummy’—and they don’t know who I am from Adam!”
Barker likes hearing how far requests for George Randals have spread.
“I happened to be at St. George at the Swig and I said, ‘By chance, do you happen to get requests for a George Randal?’ and the girl says, ‘All the time!’” Barker remembers. “I’d never done this, it was kind of funny, but I said, ‘I’m George Randal,’ and showed her my driver’s license, and she grabs the other people in the Swig: ‘It’s George Randal!’ So it’s kind of dumb and fun.”
How to Make a George Randal
Though the ROC keeps the ingredients of their version of the George Randal under wraps, the original ingredients are just Diet Code Red Mountain Dew, pebble ice, and fresh lime, Barker says.
“For a full can, I like a whole half of a lime, that’s me. Squeeze it on top and then pour the drink on the lime and leave the lime in the drink—that’s key. And enjoy your day—that’s the second part of the George Randal.”
However, plenty of variant versions of the drink have popped up:
• 7Up Cherry can be substituted for non-caffeine drinkers.
• Using the real Code Red—not diet—is called the George Randal Leaded.
• Made with key limes, it’s called the George Randal Tropical.
• With lime sherbet, it’s the George Randal Freeze.
• With vanilla-flavoring shots, it’s a Dirty Randal.
The irony of BYU fans sipping a red drink inspired by a U alum is not lost on Barker, but he’s happy to share. “It’s fun to watch other people . . . take joy from it,” he says. “This wouldn’t happen anywhere else but BYU.”