Ah, the energy drink; the delicious functional beverage that has become commonplace on market shelves, and a mainstay of many in the fast paced world we live in today. Energy drinks are driving over 50% of the $51.2 billion global market for functional beverages, a market projected to reach a value of $84.6 billion by 2015. But how did this sweet syrupy substance become such a global sensation, and where did it all begin?
Believe it or not, the first drink made with purely energy in mind was released in 1962 by Japan’s Taisho Pharmaceutical as a medicinal tonic to combat fatigue. Lipovitan, as it was called, was popular among hard working Japanese businessmen, but really took off as the late night club scene caught wind of its ability to give the drinker a quick boost of energy no matter what time of day.
Energy tonics quickly spread throughout Asia before landing in Thailand in the 1970’s in the form of Krating Daeng, a drink popular among rickshaw drivers. Krating Daeng is considered to be the direct predecessor to the ever popular Red Bull drinks we know and love, and is among the first drinks to contain Taurine, the amino found in almost all energy drinks today.
In 1982, an Austrian toothpaste-industry businessman by the name of Dietrich Mateschitz made a trip to Thailand. Tired and suffering from jet lag, Mateschitz tried a can of Krating Daeng and noticed his symptoms quickly diminish. Realizing the sales potential of energy drinks, he brought the concept back to Austria where he and Chaleo Yoovidhya founded Red Bull GmbH and launched the first Red Bull Energy drink in 1987.
Meanwhile in the United States, the market for liquid energy was limited only to a cola known as Jolt. Jolt was nothing more than a soda with higher levels of caffeine and sugar, but was extremely popular among younger drinkers, especially college students. When Red Bull was introduced to the United States, it was met with open arms, quickly establishing its market dominance and reporting revenues that doubled year over year. As other global beverage companies witnessed the success that Red Bull was having with its product, countless alternatives began popping up in stores everywhere.
Today, there are hundreds of energy drink flavors and brands in the U.S. alone. With the introduction of convenient concentrated energy shots, beverage makers are taking opening up the energy genre to a whole new demographic of busy office workers and people on the go. Energy drinks have been around for a long, long time, and are clearly here to stay. So the next time you open up a can of that sweet energy nectar, remember where it came from, and truly appreciate the history behind each and every magical sip.