From Hospitals to Rave Clubs

The strange history of energy drinks

Red BullAlthough the energy drink craze only infected North America a couple of decades ago, people have been catching a buzz from their effects in other parts of the world for quite some time.

One of the oldest energy drink bands is Lucozade, a drink which originated in Newcastle, England in 1927. Lucozade was originally used in hospitals as a much-needed source of energy for people who were sick and needed replenishment, more like sports drinks. Lucozade’s ingredients consisted of the typical components that make up our energy drinks today – carbonated water, glucose syrup, citric acid, lactic acid, caffeine, sodium benzoate, sodium bisulphate and ascorbic acid.

The first energy drink to hit the shelves in North America was Jolt Cola in 1985. At the time, it was basically marketed as a cola with high-caffeine and high-sugar contents. Jolt Cola’s original marketing strategy targeted students and busy professionals. However, North America didn’t pick up on the buzz that energy drinks were creating until they had been popular for years in other parts of the world. In Japan, for instance, energy drinks date back to the swinging sixties when a drink called Livonian D was manufactured by Taisho Pharmaceuticals. However, Japanese energy drinks don’t really resemble carbonated soft drinks the way their North American counterparts do.

Japanese energy drinks are sold in small brown medicine bottles and cans. These drinks are aimed primarily at factory workers to help them to stay awake. However, Japan’s nightlife is pretty lively, and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before club-goers are drinking them for the same that North Americans are.

Energy drinks were originally developed to supply a dietary supplement that could generate a shot of energy, and provide vitamins all in one gulp. They quickly became popular with young adults more for their stimulant properties than for their nutritional value. However North American athletes use them for the extra boost of energy they were designed to provide. The recent popularity of energy drinks in North America can be attributed to a concoction called Red Bull, the daddy of them all. Pepsi Co. also enjoyed short-lived success with an energy drink called Josta.

As people are always looking for new, cheaper and quicker ways of getting a buzz, clubs are now marketing energy drinks to be mixed with alcohol. It was only a matter of time until energy drink manufacturers started hitting coolers with alcoholic energy drinks, to capitalize on the effects of caffeine mixed with alcohol.

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