Maxed Out On Energy Drinks? Pepsi Shouts, “Wake Up People!”

diet-pepsi-max.jpgThis month Diet Pepsi Max started targeting guys that need to watch their spare tire and want a little extra fizz to keep awake, while yawning at the keyboard. This week it hit store shelves, the FDA tightened guidelines for “dietary supplements,” (herbals, botanicals, amino acids, etc.) and CSPI reported a new study on aspartame cancer risk in rats…

Interesting overlaps here!

Supplements are a $22 billion industry and hybrid mashups like “fortified soda” (ahem; see this article by Yale’s Dr. Katz) “liquid lifts”, and pick-me-ups marketed as healthier are truly teen eye-rollers for sure…Nevertheless, this yawn-o-thon is rampin’ up to be a doozy, with “Wake Up People”, a contagious yawn website that will surely get plenty of play.

Perhaps it’s a science project resource for middle-schoolers looking for an easy data dump of user generated videos of yawns to quantify ‘viral’ impact…(I even yawn WRITING about yawns.) But nutritionally? This “healthier soda” schtick-with-a-kick is same ol’ same ol’ when it comes to marketing spin…

Relatively speaking, PepsiMax appears to be “much a do about nothing” since it’s got about one third less caffeine than the same amount of coffee, (8 oz=46mg; 12oz can=69mg) nowhere near the dangerous jolt and crash concoctions some kids have been consuming in copious quantities and ending up in poison control with effects of alcohol & energy drinks in mix-n-match combos. Nutrition guru Rebecca Scritchfield deconstructs it for us in her blog, Balanced Health & Nutrition.

The Energy Fiend adds a comparative analysis with other caffeinated beverages. (complete w/graphics at a glance) And links to renowned “idea mapping” author Jamie Nast’s site depicting the effects of caffeine.

To me, the fact that caffeine intake is creeping into increasingly younger children is disturbing.

The focus and overplay of ‘caffeine buzz’ trickles down to tweens (Mountain Dew Amp targets the ‘extreme sports’ crew with a 12 oz. can carrying 75 mg of caffeine, yet I’ve seen wakeboarding hotshots as young as eight chugging the stuff)

This perplexes me. Why, why WHY aren’t we studying all sides of caffeine/energy drink claims and kids’ health effects BEFORE children start pouring them down their gullets guinea pig style?

PepsiMax and other caffeine-herbal-vitamin-laced sodas have brandwashed health and pep blurring umpteen variations of one main brand. Usually it’s regurgitated into something like this:

Market a dash of caffeine in a snappy new label, toss in a pinch of ginseng because it sounds cool (not enough to have any medicinal effect, nor is it even NCCAM or NIH quantifiable) then pitch it to 84% of Americans who claim they have an afternoon slump, or 52% of office dolts (and students) who try to slam caffeine to drudge through their boring workload.

Add vitamins or ‘nutrients’ to make it sound even healthier, and give guys a hit of ginseng (promoted for its sexual properties) to put teen boys in a lather.

Blitz with ads on Facebook, Yahoo and TV during NFL and major league baseball, use adjectives like “invigorating,” and “rousing men out of their 2pm slump” instead of “diet” and voila…you’ve got your target market: yawning jock wannabes meets yoga mat yuppies, with boyish teen allure.

If that isn’t enough to “wake up, people” I’m not sure what’ll do the trick.

Are you yawning, gents?



  1. Video Gamer says

    One apple has the same “waking up power” as one small cup of coffee.

  2. yah. I’m with ya. But try & convince those middle-schoolers chugging Monster, Red Bull & Rockstar to ‘stay awake in study hall’ or slurping over-priced Frappuccinos that pack on the pounds:

    Bleh. They’re trading on coolness currency, not common sense. Gimme a Granny Smith any day.

  3. 8-4-07: DOUBLE BLEH! Get this:

    It’s NOT only offensive, it’s not even original!! I wrote about this ‘play with me’ objectification tatoo crud here:

    AND…almost a year ago, here:

    Sheesh…Diet PepsiMax, fire your ad agency…

  4. shane perrone says

    These are going to ruin people! Soda alone is a foul substance unfit for the human body. This with EXTRA caffiene is a recipe for long term problems. People assume i think that caffiene is a neccesity, but is actually the opposite!

    2 quick facts

    1 Caffiene will lead to chronic fatigue. It wears the adreline glands and sparks the fight or flight response, combined while stationary and you simply burn out. The more you drink the worse it is, eventually you are under so much strain you hit a breaking point, and totally ruin your system.

    2 Think of caffiene as a number. When you drink a beverage you are charged by an extra 100, during the day it goes to 90, then 80, 70,60,50, then you go to bed. Then when you wake up you are back to your normal level (this isn’t entirely the case, but just think of it for the example.) You are used to the cranked up feeling and start having cravings, so you drink your beverage all over again, only returning to the ‘normal’ which is a cranked up state. So drinking large amounts of caffiene just sets you up in a cycle that once started can be down right painful to stop. Once dependent, if you stop cold turkey and not gradually, you will most likely experience flu like symptoms including horrid headaches.

    Bottom line, stop drinking soda, wene yourself of caffiene, and stop straining your system with chemicals for the love of everything healthy.

  5. Well, I’m a pseudo-fan of caffeine from a migraine standpoint, and can attest to the medicinal positives, in moderation, so am not in any one ‘camp’…I just disagree with the mining and marketing of caffeine (a drug) to KIDS in any capacity, as it IS an ‘addictive’ substance (e.g. physical properties) and could set ‘habitual use’ early on…At least the bulk of adults I know only encountered caffeine in college or beyond…I aim for moderation in ANY setting…but am strongly adverse to creating ‘coolness cache’ for ANY drug or habitually intentional product where kids are concerned…(tobacco, alcohol or ‘frappucinos’ fergoshsakes) because of the early brain patterns established for preference…seems kids should be off limits, period, in this realm!

Speak Your Mind