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09.24.08

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Phaedra

Kick It : The makers of Drank promise to mellow your harsh.

The Big Chill

A new class of 'anti-energy' drinks saunters into the marketplace

By Matthew Craggs


Caffeine, guarana and sugar have infiltrated every aspect of Americans' diets, supercharging us to power-through stress and heavy workloads. But even though the hustle and bustle of our lives show no signs of abating, there's one beverage distributor who believes that what Americans need isn't more bang for their buck but less.

Sayonara, Red Bull. See ya later, Amp. Innovative Beverage Group has decided to slow things down with Drank, "the first Extreme Relaxation drink." Drank promises to "Slow Your Roll"; a message on the website cautions readers that enjoying the beverage "may cause you to lean." The 16-ounce cans, currently only available online and in select markets, contain a carbonated drink infused with valerian root, rose hips and melatonin. Used in alternative medicine to combat stress and jet lag, these three ingredients replace the standard energy drink's chief culprits, caffeine and taurine. The taste is a faint version of Mountain Dew Voltage, the winner of this summer's contest for consumers to vote on the new Mountain Dew flavor. A citrus and light raspberry mix gives way to a hint of flowers and herbal tea aftertaste. The calming effect is noticeable shortly after the last drop. It may not knock you out completely, but a can of Drank easily packs enough sedative punch to counteract a dose of Red Bull. Drank does contain some sugar, an amount that's noticeable but not apparent in the taste, but spokesman John Layfield sees the product as a healthy alternative to other methods of relaxation.

"[People] stop off and have a cocktail after work. ... Doctors use drugs for everything. 'Got stress? Here's a Valium. Can't sleep? Try Soma.' I don't think that's good, so we give them a healthy alternative," he says.

Flakspeak, for sure, but Layfield knows a little something about stress. A stock market investor and Fox News business analyst, he's also a professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (he goes by the name JBL). And what the heck, he also has his own line of energy drinks, which consists of Mamajuana and 418 Energy. He claims the former increases sex drive and the latter contains an all-natural anti-inflammatory blend developed by Layfield himself to combat the injuries incurred in the course of being JBL.

Combined with Drank, these beverages highlight the growing culinary trend of functional foods, or foods that provide a service. The calcium in milk and the iron in spinach wouldn't make these foods functional because your body needs these elements. Instead, imagine functional foods as those power-up mushrooms in Super Mario Bros. You don't need them; they just give you a bonus.

But will Drank be implicated in untimely nod-offs or face-plants? Layfield insists Drank's all-natural and nonaddictive bonuses can be enjoyed safely. "Melatonin has done well as a relaxation supplement," he says. "We just put it with the valerian root and rose hips to make it work a lot better. We feel it's totally safe."

Melatonin is available locally at Staff of Life and the Herb Room. Though employees at both businesses declined to comment on any potential side effects or suggested duration of use, both stores carry products containing 1 to 5 mg of melatonin; a can of Drank contains 2 mg. WebMD.com reports no adverse side effects for any of the three calming ingredients in Drank.

Despite its urban name and ad campaign, Drank's role in the functional beverage trend applies to all demographics. After all, most of us are rushing around--and what goes up must come down.


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