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Turbulent Thailand

Red Bull boycott: From Thai pride to symbol of inequality

Concentration of wealth receives new scrutiny as anti-government protests rage

A woman buys Red Bull energy drink cans in a supermarket in Bangkok in August.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Red Bull, the world's bestselling energy drink, derives its name and recipe from a Thai beverage called Krating Daeng. Created by Chaleo Yoovidhya, who was born to a poor family in the country's north, the power drink found its way onto the global stage when it was discovered by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz.

Together, Yoovidhya and Mateschitz created Red Bull GmbH, which marketed the drink worldwide, after slightly reducing the sweetness for the global audience. The phenomenal success made both men multibillionaires. Chaleo's son Chalerm Yoovidhya sits at No. 2 on Forbes' Thai rich list.

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