TL;DR: Tell Fingers about the most inappropriate/macho/lewd/otherwise concerning energy drink brands you’ve ever seen!
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More than a few Friends of Fingers messaged me this week about “Demon Jizz BerryFister Blast,” a fictional energy drink that I made up to add some color to the bizarre tale of Bang Energy, the troop-loving "super creatine" energy drink brand currently suing Pepsi.
“Demon Jizz BerryFister Blast - I know you’re proud of this. I’d certainly be,” wrote John M. “I can see the logo in my head. Very inappropriate yet totally fine to display in public somehow.”
To reiterate: Demon Jizz BerryFister Blast is not real (yet, at least.) But John M.’s comment poses an interesting policy question: where is the “decency line” for marketing energy drinks? You’ll be shocked—SHOCKED, I tell you—to learn that it’s pretty murky!
Writer Sara Talpos went long on the matter for Undark in a 2019 piece, noting (emphasis mine):
Historically, government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have struggled to regulate beverages with added caffeine. Though it offers some guidance, the FDA allows manufacturers of liquid products to decide on their own whether to market their products as dietary supplements, or as conventional foods and beverages, which carry differing regulatory requirements.
So you’re telling me the people that make the poison get to choose how to market the poison, too? What could possibly go wrong?! *Camera pans to the entire brewing industry’s marketing strategy for malt liquor from the mid-‘80s through the mid-‘90s*
While the Wild West nature of energy drink marketing might be bad for the gastrointestinal functions and longterm health of America’s strung-out youth (a case Talpos and others have laid out in great detail), it’s also flooded the (super)market with absolutely deranged, lowest-common-denominator brands, can designs, and ad campaigns. Yes, this is capitalism spinning out of control, and we’re all worse for it. But, as the lawsuits-and-MAGA saga of Bang Energy proves, the chaos produces outcomes that are undeniably hilarious to observe.
To wit: Friend of Fingers Miles B. tipped me off to Cocaine—the real name of a real energy drink that somehow returned to shelves last decade after being briefly banned in the U.S. “Heard of it?” he asked. I had not, which got me to thinking: what other inappropriate/macho/lewd/otherwise concerning REAL energy drinks are out there on store shelves and c-store coolers that (due to limited distribution, regional preference, or other market quirks) I’ve never seen?
Inquiring minds (i.e. your fearless Fingers editor) would like to know. Please comment below, with links if at all possible!
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