No longer content to be the cause of just small caffeine highs across the country, Coca-Cola is finally taking a page from the early aughts and launching a full-on energy drink, Coca-Cola Energy, for the first time in the U.S.
Coca-Cola Energy, which boasts 114 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving in comparison to a regular Coke’s 34 milligrams (for reference, a 12-ounce cup of coffee has about 136 milligrams of caffeine), has already been available in 25 other countries, including Spain and Great Britain, since earlier this year. But starting in January 2020, U.S. consumers will be able to fuel up on Coke Energy in four flavors: original, Zero Sugar, Cherry, and Zero Sugar Cherry (the new Cherry varieties, created with Americans in mind, are not offered in Europe).
Why is Coca-Cola only now getting into the energy drink game, decades after Monster Energy, AMP, and Red Bull drinks first seized the imagination of extreme sports enthusiasts, teens one-upping each other, sleep-deprived college students, and all-night gamers? Extracurricular activities, apparently. “People are busier than ever. They don’t just work from 9 to 5 and call it a day. Their lives are full, and they’re doing so many more things after ‘work,’” Coca-Cola brand director Janki Gambhir said in a statement, correctly identifying the curse of productivity and eroding work-life balance so endemic to late-stage capitalist hell. “Coke Energy offers great-tasting energy to do the things they need to do, but also the things they want to do.”
As American consumers drink less soda, beverage companies are looking toward energy drinks as a growing category, especially now that there are more flavor options to choose from instead of the classic “nuclear horse piss” and “battery acid” tastes that some people describe. According to Nielsen data, dollar sales of energy drinks increased 11.2 percent in the past year, growing from $11 billion to $12.2 billion, Business Insider reports. Monster Energy, one of the leaders of the energy drink market, is partly owned — via a minority stake of 16.7 percent — by Coca-Cola. Until recently, the two companies were locked in an arbitration battle in which Monster tried to prevent the beverage giant from launching its own brand of energy drinks in the U.S.; in July, the arbitrator decided that Coca-Cola could introduce and sell Coke Energy in the U.S. and other markets.
The launch of Coke Energy marks the first time the 127-year-old brand is launching a Coke beverage that isn’t a soft drink in the U.S., as the company continues to expand its portfolio, Business Insider’s Kate Taylor notes. Soda, energy drinks — what’s next, a hard Coke seltzer to rival Four Loko’s anarchic Seltzer Sour With a Hint of Blue Razz?