An energy drink is defined as any carbonated or non-carbonated beverage containing a stimulant (such as caffeine) that is meant to provide mental and physical energy. Energy drinks may also include sweeteners, herbal extracts, B-vitamins as well as amino acids (such as Taurine). Although coffee, tea and soda provide similar effects of energy drinks, they are not included in the category as the term only refers to those marketed as an “energy drink.” However, energy drinks were born out of the soft drink industry. The history of energy drinks began in the 1860’s when people would mix wine with coca leaves (where cocaine comes from). John Pemberton made his own concoction in 1885 containing kola nut, called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. When prohibition passed in his Georgia county, he was forced to replace alcohol with syrup, and Coca-Cola was born.
People went crazy over the new invention, using the exhilarating drink as a pick-me-up. (Of course, cocaine was removed from the ingredients by 1903.) Soon, consumers got used to, and built tolerance to, the levels of caffeine in these drinks and their energy boosting effects wore off. That’s when soda pop manufacturers began producing sodas with an even higher caffeine-content. In 1949, Chicago chemist and entrepreneur Bill Swartz had kept witnessing his coworkers complain about the lack of nutrients in most carbonated beverages, so he created a lemon-lime soda called Dr. Enuf containing B-vitamins that helped turn glucose, carbohydrates and fat into energy. This drink later inspired the original energy drink, Lipovitan, made by Taisho Pharmaceuticals (Japan) in 1960. The energy drink ingredients contained vitamins that could boost energy and focus, and the mixture was considered a medicinal tonic beverage. Although Lipovitan is still mainly sold in Japan today, it has made its way to shelves of stores in other countries that sell Asian products.
The explosive boom in the energy drink industry started in 1982 however, when German marketing director of Blendex, Dietrick Mateschitz, wanted a cure for his jet-lag while traveling to Thailand. He discovered a drink called Krating Daeng that helped him stay awake. Krathing is the Thai word for a Guar, which is a very large wild bull from southeast Asia, and Daeng is the Thai word for “red.” Krating Daeng was founded by Chaleo Yoovidhya, who Mateschitz then worked with, altering the drink to suit Western tastes. By 1987, they produced the famous energy drink we now know as Red Bull.
The launch of Red Bull stirred the existence of other energy drink brands, such as Rockstar Energy Drink in 2001, Monster Energy Drink in 2002, and 5-Hour Energy in 2003. In 2005, global energy drink sales skyrocketed, marking the beginning of a booming industry. Today, the U.S. alone makes over 13 billion dollars per year in energy drink sales. As long as people are working, they are seeking something that provides extra stimulation as an alternative to traditional drinks like coffee and tea. Energy drink companies use ingredients such as taurine and guarana which promote energy and focus. However, with the rise of specialty energy drinks and the need for more natural ingredients, companies have been moving to ingredients like ginseng, which boosts energy and improves mood. Another is Yerba Mate, a South American herb that contains natural stimulants to help mental clarity. With these options, health-conscious consumers will still be able to find an “energy drink” that suits them. If you want to buy energy drinks online, or find healthy alternatives to energy drinks, you can do so at our Specialty Sodas website.