The energy drink backlash is here, and it's gaining momentum with surprising speed. Often concocted of melatonin, chamomile, kava extract or passion flower extract, mixed with less, um, natural ingredients--the so-called relaxation beverages promise to "slow your roll," help you sleep, and deal with the stress of crappy jobs, and relationships. They're a lot like marijuana, without the black light posters and 2 a.m. Cheeto cravings.
When Drank, a non-alcoholic "relaxation beverage" with a throw-back to Southern moonshine, debuted last year, its drug-related branding incited a small upheaval among conservative-minded consumers. Which, of course, boosted corporate revenues for its distributor Innovative Beverage Group, 534% over the previous year. Its effects earned it the nickname "weed in a can," and prompted lyrical odes by rappers like Lil' Wayne. As expected, many more drinks branded with drug-allusions were quick to follow. Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, billed as "the all-natural soft drink that delivers euphoric relaxation..." is the latest, and the most overt.
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It might not need stating, but the brand name is reference to marijuana, though not in the rap-culture (Drank) way. No, Mary Jane's is the canned weed beverage of yuppies and new-agers, or so its marketing team hopes. "Within minutes of drinking," they boast, "a 'calming' sensation can be felt throughout the body and mind." Before a job interview, or a long trip. It's just like the real thing, without the unfavorable side-effects, like laziness. Also, because studies have linked the soda's key calming ingredient, Kava extract, to cancer-prevention, it would seem that Mary Jane's is indeed "good for your body and mind." Though your yoga instructor may not endorse Mary Jane's use of phosphoric acid--the ingredient which gives the soda its yummy cola flavor--it's better than Drank (since it's not purple, right?), and it's legal.
While Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda is currently available in only very select stores and online, BevNET.com, will host a conference and "beverage school" in Santa Monica in December. The event will undoubtedly showcase the newest incarnations of canned weed.