Because it isn’t already loaded with enough sugar and caffeine to last you 24 hours, Mountain Dew is gearing up to claim their stake in the energy drink market with “Kickstart,” a caffeine- and juice-infused beverage set to come out later this month. The company says their so-called “breakfast drink” won’t contain nearly the amount of caffeine found in controversial brands like Monster energy drink or even Red Bull, but it’s not necessarily the caffeine content that disturbs us: It’s the fact that this sounds suspiciously like a drink designed to be sold to kids.
The drink will contain 5% juice, which is apparently enough to qualify it as a “juice drink”–not a soda–under FDA guidelines (yes, I said FIVE percent), and the company insists that the amount of caffeine is really NBD. In fact, they didn’t design the drink to compete with other energy drinks at all; they’re merely filling stepping up to the challenge of fixing a longstanding morning beverage problem. From the New York Times:
Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo’s Americas beverages, says the idea for Kickstart came about after the company learned through consumer research that Mountain Dew fans were looking for an alternative to traditional morning drinks such as coffee, tea and juice.
“They didn’t really see anything that fit their needs,” he said.
Thank god they’re saving us from the terrible fate of drinking coffee, tea, juice or–dare we say–water. I’m skeptical about their innovation in mixing tiny amounts of processed fruit and vitamins into a carbonated, caffeinated drink for several reasons, but what creeps me out most is that they seem to have designed an energy drink for kids, that they can market as a harmless little morning “kickstart.”
Let’s be honest: “juice drinks” are made for kids, not adults. And the folks at Mountain Dew are (hopefully) smart enough not to market their products to health nuts; moderating the amount of caffeine and sugar is more likely to keep their fizzy juice clear of blame for a new generation of diabetes-prone, jacked up kids.
But making kid-friendly drinks with any amount of caffeine seems irresponsible to me, and marketing them as a healthy addition to breakfast seems even worse. And tricking people into believing that they’re consuming a healthier drink than soda by putting in the bare minimum of “healthy” ingredients to call it something else is downright skeezy, regardless of which demographic you’re marketing towards.