Feb 22, 2024 - Business

Dunkin' gambles on caffeine-spiked drink after Panera deaths

Two Dunkin' cups of SPARKD' Energy drink with words "Peach Sunshine" and "Berry Burst" at top of image

Dunkin' launches two new energy drinks Wednesday at restaurants nationwide. Photo: Courtesy of Dunkin'

Dunkin' has introduced new fruit-flavored energy drinks that contain slightly less caffeine than Panera Bread's Charged Lemonades, which led to lawsuits over customer deaths.

Why it matters: Heavily caffeinated beverages like energy drinks are growing in popularity but can carry health risks.

The big picture: The booming energy drink category has attracted younger consumers with consumption highest among men 18 to 34, according to market research firm Mintel.

  • Similar drinks have also been big sellers for chains like Dutch Bros., accounting for 24% of all sales.
  • CosMc's — the McDonald's spinoff coffee chain — has a Sour Cherry Energy Slush on its menu.

What's happening: SPARKD' Energy arrived at Dunkin' locations nationwide Wednesday in two flavors — a Berry Burst with raspberry and strawberry and Peach Sunshine.

  • It was tested at some Florida and Vermont locations in the fall, the chain told Axios.

Zoom in: The Food and Drug Administration says "for healthy individuals" a safe quantity of caffeine is 400 milligrams per day, which is around four to five cups of coffee.

  • The FDA said it estimates "toxic effects, like seizures, can be observed with rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine."

By the numbers: Dunkin's large energy drink has 192 mg of caffeine, which is less than the 347 mg in a large cold brew coffee, according to nutritional information on the company's website.

Yes, but: Panera's lemonades previously were listed on the website as having up to 390 mg of caffeine, internet archive site Wayback Machine shows.

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