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When Were Canned Energy Drinks Brought to the Consumer Market?

Energy drinks are similar to soda in that they have carbonation, sugar, and are sold in sleeved cans made of aluminum. However, energy drinks have significantly more caffeine, a mildly stimulant substance, and are marketed specifically to provide energy and focus to those who drink them. To differentiate them from sodas, energy drink cans are often a taller, skinnier shape. Here is the fascinating history of energy drinks.

Early Energy Drinks

Many of the sodas that are still popular today started out in the late 1800s as health tonics. These early preparations often contained caffeine (and initially, in the case of Coca-Cola, cocaine) as an energy booster. However, the main purpose of many of these tonics was to treat stomach complaints.

The energy drink as we know it was invented in Japan in 1962. It was called Lipovitan D, and it came in bottles small enough to fit in a minibar or a medicine cabinet, which was appropriate because it smelled and tasted like cough syrup.

Red Bull, which is still one of the most popular energy drinks today, was invented in 1976 in Thailand. Like Lipovitan D, it contained taurine, an antioxidant amino acid, as one of the main ingredients. In 1984, a marketing executive used Red Bull, then known as Krating Daeng, to combat jet lag on a business trip to Thailand. He was so pleased with the results that he reached out to the inventor to make the pitch for marketing the drink worldwide. To appeal to consumers in Europe and North America, they translated the original name, added more caffeine and sugar, and switched from packaging it in bottles to printed cans.

The Golden Age of Energy Drinks

Red Bull arrived in Europe at a time when many people were already looking for alternatives to coffee. Though an instant hit, it didn’t arrive in North America until the late 1990s. Nevertheless, upon its arrival, it gained instant notoriety, especially among college students, who found it helped them stay awake for studying, extracurricular activities, and/or socializing. Red Bull leaned into this by sponsoring sports and other activities on college campuses across the continent.

Red Bull’s success meant that, by the early 2000s, other beverage makers wanted to get in on the energy drink game. Suddenly, the market was flooded with competitors. Some, such as Monster and Rockstar energy drinks, are still around today. Others, such as 2004’s Rip It, failed to gain popularity with consumers.

Healthier Alternatives

Some consumers have raised concerns about the high amounts of sugar and taurine. Some energy drink makers have responded by cutting sugar and looking for more natural caffeine sources. Green tea contains antioxidants and has some clinical studies to back up some of the health benefits it offers. Guarana grows in the Amazon and is a potent source of caffeine. It has been used by tribes in the region for centuries to increase focus and energy. Other naturally occurring components in guarana are believed to prevent some of the unwanted side effects of coffee, such as a crash or jitters.

Marketing Energy Drinks

Because there are so many varieties of energy drinks available, effective packaging is essential to connect with customers. Joyburst and G-Fuel are a couple examples of brands that have turned to Kinsbrae for beverage packaging solutions. We offer fully customizable sleeves and work with you to create a unique design. We provide many options, including sleeved cans, printed cans, and labelled cans.

Aluminum cans are already standard for energy drink containers, but even if they weren’t, they offer several benefits. They are opaque, meaning that UV rays cannot get through and spoil the beverage inside. They are lightweight and stackable, and they are infinitely recyclable. Our aluminum cans are durable, and able to resist even highly acidic contents, thanks to our BPANI GEN2 liners. Learn more about Kinsbrae Packaging cans.


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