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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

ENERGY DRINKS: THE NEW COFFEE?

Students and bar patrons alike drink to stay awake

It's Friday morning and sophomore Chad Miller has just rolled out of bed for his 11:15 class at the business school. Sluggish and groggy-eyed, Miller hops into his car at Hoosier Courts and drives down 17th Street toward campus. He makes a pit stop at the gas station to fuel up. But it's not for his car; it's for himself.\n"I usually stop at the gas station and pick one (an energy drink) up on my way to class," he said. "I love 'em." \nMiller, who started consuming energy drinks in high school, is part of an increasingly popular trend of individuals opting for the tangy taste of a Red Bull instead of hot coffee to keep them alert for the day. "I definitely think energy drinks could become our generation's coffee," he said.\nHe could very well be right. Since Red Bull's inception to the U.S. market in 1997, a plethora of other drinks have flooded the market due to its popularity. About 300 drinks are available on the shelves today. College students have latched onto energy drinks because not only do they help them stay up to cram for a test or keep them alert during the day, but when mixed with alcohol, can keep them partying long into the night. \nMost are marketed to the younger generation of students, active individuals and athletes in the 21-35 demographic. Red Bull's Web site plays alternative music while images of snowboarders, surfers and motorcyclists can be seen. Rockstar Energy's Web site plays hard rock music and one can file through a picture gallery of celebrities and athletes posing with a can of the drink. \nEven soft drink kings Pepsi and Coca-Cola are trying to get a piece of the energy drink dollar. Pepsi produces SoBE Adrenaline Rush and AMP Energy Drink (one could argue it's Mountain Dew in energy drink form) and Coke owns Full Throttle which can be bought on campus at IU. Neither company's drinks have currently matched the success of Red Bull, which currently holds about two-thirds of the U.S. market.\nSo what exactly is in these drinks and how do they work?\nAccording to Red Bull, there are five primary ingredients in their drink that combine to give its user's more energy. The caffeine in the drink (although some debate its effects) improves one's alertness and reaction speed. Red Bull also contains taurine, which is an amino acid found in the heart, brain, muscles, blood cells and retina. The carbohydrates in the drink give the user increased energy. A special-type of carbohydrate, glucurono lactone, as well as B-complex vitamins found in Red Bull help perform metabolic functions in the body.\nAlthough Red Bull is the most popular drink, it certainly is not the best deal. A skinny 8-ounce can of Red Bull costs $1.79. At 16 ounces and twice the size, Rockstar Energy costs $1.99. \nFollowing instep with America's current health food obsession, some drinks offer a low-carb or sugar-free alternative. Rockstar has implemented Diet Rockstar, Monster has Monster Lo-Carb and Red Bull offers a sugar-free version. \nHealth-conscious students who enjoy the taste of energy drinks are taking advantage of this. One of these students is junior Holly Coleman. \n"I drink the sugar-free kind of Red Bull so it's not as bad for me," said Coleman who works out about 6 times a week. She says she uses Red Bull for the occasional all-nighter or for a mid-day pick-me-up. "My roommates think I'm crazy for drinking it, but I think it's an acquired taste," she said.\nMiller also opts for the healthier drinks of his favorite brands, Rockstar and Monster, because he feels they still provide him with the same amount of energy and are better for him. \nAlthough companies have made an attempt to present a healthier product, energy drinks can still create health problems. Red Bull has been linked to deaths in Ireland, Australia and Sweden. Of the three deaths documented in Sweden, one had consumed Red Bull shortly after exercising and the other two mixed alcohol with Red Bull. Because of these deaths, some restaurants in Sweden have banned the sale of Red Bull in their place of business.\n"They contain stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra which raise your heart rate and blood pressure and that's how people die," said Dr. Charlie Kilo of Anchor Healthcare in Naples, Florida. "People can have abnormal heart rhythms or if they are older they can have strokes." \nMixing energy drinks with alcohol also can be potentially dangerous. According to a 2004 Higher Education Center Study, the stimulating effect of energy drinks can deceive people into believing that they are less intoxicated than they actually are. This can lead to drinking too much and getting alcohol poisoning or perhaps getting behind the wheel of a car.\n"Your heart is racing and you're not in full control of your senses," said Kilo. "This can cause you to do a whole host of things, such as crashing your car."\nAlthough there are some added risks from mixing alcohol and energy drinks, the patrons at local Bloomington bars don't seem to care. Jägerbombs (a combination of Jägermeister and Red Bull) is amongst the most popular mixed drinks at the bars.\n"A Jägerbomb is our No. 1 shot right now," said Maggie Prall, a current night manager of Kilroy's Sports Bar on Walnut Street. "It's a little scary because you're getting more energy to stay up later and drink." Prall, who has worked at Sports for eight years, says that Sports goes through about 20 cases of Red Bull a week and have carried it for a little over 3 years. \n"We saw it in Chicago at the restaurant show," she said. "It was a decent product initially but it has gone huge since then." She added that Sports has one of the top accounts in the entire state for Red Bull. \nSports also recently starting carrying B^E (Bud Energy) which is Budweiser's foray into the energy drink game. Prall describes it as an energy drink beer with a bit of a raspberry flavor to it.\n"I think it's a good product that will pick up here in a while," she said.\nUncle Fester's and the Jungle Room have also seen the popularity of Jägerbombs explode over the past couple of years and junior bartender Jenny Smith says that Jägerbombs are their most popular drink.\n"We have Red Bull on tap and we go through quite a bit," she said.\nNo matter what an individual uses energy drinks for, one thing can be said for certain. "It's definitely the 'in' thing to drink right now," Smith said.

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