Old-School Singapore Drink Ads

Most of us drink Milo or Horlicks every morning without much thought. But these brands have actually existed for decades, probably before you were even born.

Before colour printing and social media existed, newspaper ads were traditionally the only way these companies could reach consumers.

Here’s a flash from the past for 10 nostalgic Singaporean drinks, versus what their ads look like now.

1. Milo

A chocolate and malt powder drink that can be taken either hot or cold, Milo was pretty much a staple in every local kid’s life.

Whenever the Milo van would drop by during Sports Day at your primary or secondary school, most of us fondly recall queuing for a cup with the perfect powder-to-water ratio.

1949:Caption: Delicous…..hot or cole

 Life must’ve been hard without spell check.


Not unlike today, old Milo ads tended to lean towards portraying a sporty and healthy image.


It’s the 21st century, Milo comes with less sugar…and it makes you fly?

2. Horlicks

A malt powder than can be consumed with either hot or cold water. The real treat was if you could get your hands on the Horlicks malties tablets while growing up.

1930s:Caption reads: Giving it the necessary resistance to worry and disease. 

Okay, wait. So people were convinced that Horlicks would protect them from diseases?

A simple Google search today would debunk that in a second.


The now version of this ad looks so drab in comparison.

3. Kickapoo Joy Juice

An unnaturally neon yellow caffeinated drink that is mostly found in primary schools or Kopitiams.

1969:Caption reads: Want to have her eating out of your hand? Try the subtle magic of KICKAPOO JOY JUICE. Exotic, Great Stuff!

Guys, I really don’t think your girlfriend will appreciate Kickapoo instead of what you’ve promised her.

The only thing magical about Kickapoo is its bright yellow colour, and that they’ve managed to incorporate way more sugar into the drink than you’d ever guess.


Bring back the fun illustrations!

4. Tiger Beer

A beer brand well known for its slogan “What time is it? Tiger Time!”. Mostly found being chugged down by uncles outside the Kopitiam.

1933:Caption reads: Beer is nutritious, healthgiving —

What a time it must’ve been to be alive, when beer had health-giving properties instead of just giving you a beer belly.


This is a pretty cool, minimalistic ad. Tiger Beer doesn’t need to sell its product, because it sells itself.

The Santa hats add a nice Christmassy touch, too.

5. Lee’s Pineapple Juice

The concept of canned pineapple juice just sounds bizarre, but Lee’s made it work.


Meh, this one is pretty boring in comparison to the other old ads. But looking at this ad in 2017, it’s interesting to note that they’ve maintained the simplicity of their branding even today.


This one actually doesn’t look that different to the old version of the ad!

6. Nescafé

The quintessential 3-in-1 coffee powder. Tastes great, and all you need is some hot water.

Translation from Mandarin reads:
(Body) Only the best coffee should be served to your guests.
And the happiness they experience while drinking your coffee can only be from Nescafé.

Wah, ads back then were so boring in black and white. Colour really jazzed things up a bit.

2017:Caption reads: Wake up & smell the coffee!

Don’t you feel like you can actually smell the coffee just by looking at the steam rising out of the mug?

7. Coca-Cola

Pretty much the best soft drink around.

Date Unknown:Translation from Jawi reads: Treat guests who come to your house. Serve them Coca-Cola.

Now when friends come over, its “Coke in the fridge, take yourself la”.


Here’s Coca-Cola trying to peer pressure you into having a bottle.

8. Magnolia Milk

Tastes great paired with your morning Koko Krunch. Ah, the memories.


A kid sipping on some Magnolia milk, absolutely adorable.


This ad hasn’t changed much from the 1950s version either. There’s another cute kid, with the addition of a mum.

9. Drinho

Barely around anymore, it’s basically what you’d call the old-school version of Pokka teas.

Date Unknown:


10/10 for drink and outfit coordination.


Well, it’s easy to see why this drink isn’t as popular as Pokka drinks in Singapore. Clearly, not much effort wasn’t put into making the unique selling points of the drinks clear.

Judging by the modern ad, it pretty much retains a similar format to its predecessor. But the only thing that’s changed is that we get high quality pictures of the drinks now.

10. Sarsi

Either love it or hate it, but nobody really knows what’s in it. Sarsi wasn’t always known as Sarsi — it had a far more complicated name in the past.

Date unknown:Translation from Mandarin: Refreshing and thirst-quenching

Incredibly long name aside, the company behind Sarsaparilla – now known as Fraser & Neave or F&N –  later rebranded the drink, giving it a simpler and catchier name.


Although some pundits call it a rip-off of A&W’s Root Beer, we can’t deny that this Sarsi ad still retains its own old-school charm.

Past or Present

Some of these brands have been around so long that your great-grandparents were probably drinking it too when they were young.


Kickapoo and Lee’s pineapple juice were also staples that many of us would have with our meals during recess, while Tiger Beer is still a popular part of drinking culture today.

Through the years, it’s clear that companies shifted from more complex ads to just letting their products speak for itself.

It could be because the companies have already established their consumer base, considering most of these brands are well-known and loved by many.

Who knows, maybe in a hundred years, ads from the same companies will be hologram pop-ups. That would be cool, huh?

Featured image from LongWindingRoad and WeAreSuper.