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Keeping Up with Energy Drinks

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Less than half a century ago when I was a kid, there were relatively few beverage choices compared to today. Adults drank coffee, tea, beer, wine, water or juice; kids drank milk, water and an occasional soda or two. The beverage “aisle” in the supermarket was more like a section, measuring about four measly feet; the only cold beverage available besides milk was beer.

Well, so much has been supersized since the 60’s, including the beverage assortment at your local supermarket, which now consists of an entire aisle of water, carbonated water, fruit juice-infused water, nutraceutical-infused water, coconut/acai/aloe water, soda, ready to drink tea, shelf-stable juices and juice drinks, sports drinks, protein drinks — the list goes on and on.

And this is just in the dry grocery section. Let’s not even think about the cold case that houses the likes of kambucha, smoothies, fresh teas, fresh juice and “waters.”

Energy drinks rose in popularity seemingly out of nowhere, but once they did they were easy to spot: All of them had fun packaging, with terrific slogans and bright graphics — the result, no doubt, of savvy marketers trying to reel in the ‘tweens, teens and 20-somethings. But aren’t they the ones who should have more energy than say, um, people my age? Have you ever tried to read the entire ingredient deck on the side of one of the packages? It’s exhausting just trying to decipher all the nutrients and other additives.

Okay, sure, I can pronounce caffeine and even understand what it is, but what about guarana, and the myriad other ingredients ending in “ine” that are a mystery unless, perhaps, you are a chemist? Even alcoholic drinks (a contradiction if ever I heard one) seem to be cropping up with energy additives (The doomed Four Loco, Spykes, Rockstar 21, and the like).

Just as I was wondering what could possibly come next in this over-hyped, over-amped category, I stumbled upon alkaline-infused water. This is H2O with a high pH that purportedly neutralizes the acid in the bloodstream, boosting metabolism and helping absorb nutrients more effectively. All I could think of were the old Energizer battery commercials with the stuffed bunny banging the drum for hours and hours. Can this truly be the next trend?

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