Energy Drink Didn't Work Out for Panera, So Dunkin' Tries It Out

Sparkd' Energy contains a lot of caffeine, as did beverages consumed by 2 late Panera patrons
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2024 8:15 AM CST
Dunkin' Debuts New Energy Drink After Panera Fatalities
The new Sparkd' Energy drinks come in two flavors.   (Dunkin')

At least two people have died after drinking caffeine-infused lemonade at Panera, but that's not stopping Dunkin' from launching their own series of fruit-flavored drinks that will offer a "revitalizing burst of energy." The coffee chain debuted its Sparkd' Energy beverage on Wednesday, a fizzy energy drink that comes in Berry Burst and Peach Sunshine versions and is delivered with "vitamins, minerals, and a kick of caffeine," per a release. USA Today notes that "kick" in each large version of the drink consists of 192mg of the stimulant, about half of the Food and Drug Administration's 400mg recommended daily limit for adults—the equivalent of about four or five cups of coffee. For kids, that limit is substantially less: The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends no more than 100mg of caffeine daily for children and teens ages 12 through 18.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that kids shouldn't be drinking energy drinks at all. Per Axios, that 192mg of caffeine in a Sparkd' Energy drink is still substantially less than the 347mg contained in a large cold-brew coffee already sold at Dunkin'. A 30-ounce container of Panera's Charged Lemonade now has up to 236mg of caffeine, though Axios notes that archived files show the beverage at one point contained up to 390mg, close to the daily recommended limit. Panera has faced three lawsuits so far, two regarding the patrons who died of cardiac arrest after drinking its Charged Lemonade, and a third who says they suffered permanent heart complications from doing the same.

The lemonade drinks are still available at Panera, though they now feature in-store and online warnings. Per market research group Mintel, the energy drink market is a booming one, valued at $21.1 billion in 2022 and expected to grow to $22.3 billion once 2023's numbers are finalized. Yahoo Life notes that every person's reaction to caffeine is different, based on their overall health and other factors such as how quickly a drink is consumed. But quaffing too much of this type of energy drink "can cause anxiety, hyperactivity, inattention, sensation-seeking, and poor decision-making," per Dr. Tamara S. Hannon of the AAP's Committee on Nutrition, as well as lead to more serious conditions over time, including heart disease and diabetes. (More Dunkin' stories.)

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