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Alabama-produced ‘doomsday drink’ targets colleges

Jordan Cissell

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Talk of Mayan end-of-the world predictions and doomsday dates is enough to drive one to drink. At least, that’s what the manufacturers of relaxation beverage Drank are counting on.

Innovative Beverage Group Holdings announced the release of a new flavor in the Drank line, “Island Time,” in January. IBGH is marketing the new flavor as “the official product of the end of the world,” according to a company press release announcing the drink’s inauguration.

Peter Bianchi, CEO of IGBH, said the inspiration for the unique marketing scheme came from discussions with members of the media and the public in the time leading up to the product’s release.

“There kept on being this theme that a lot of people were stressed out about the end of the world,” he said. “Who knows what will happen tomorrow? If today really was the last day, what would you do? You’d want to take it easy and relax. I created a beverage around that mindset.”

The tropical flavor arose from Bianchi’s own last day ideal.

“I’d want to be lounging on a beach somewhere, toes in the sand, sipping a nice cool drink and watching the 100-foot tidal wave sweep over the shore,” he said.

Bianchi didn’t specify, but chances are the cool drink he intends on sipping is a Drank product. After all, he has become known as “the godfather of the relaxation market” for his role in the developing “anti-energy drink” industry’s origin.

Bianchi said he created the relaxation drink at a time when “it seemed like everybody and their brother were making energy drinks.” He concluded all of the consumers using the energy boosters for quick energy to get through a busy workday would need something to help them unwind just as quickly once they were off the clock. He went to work in the laboratory, spending several years developing the formula before releasing the first Drank product in 2008.

“Those were stressful times in America, with the wars and the economy doing badly and people losing their jobs,” he said. “America needed a way to relax and not just checkout of the situation completely.”

Drank isn’t putting everybody in a state of relaxation, however. Dr. David Seres, director of Medical Nutrition at Columbia Medical Center, expressed concern over the safety of the product on an April 2011 episode of ABC’s Nightline.

“I’ve always had a bit of a concern about any of these products because their contents are unregulated,” he said. “There is very little that we do to relax people that doesn’t also sedate them.”

Bianchi countered Seres’ statement by arguing that any substance can prove harmful if consumed in excess. He said he set out with the goal to create Drank only from natural ingredients with which everybody is familiar.

The mildly carbonated drink’s relaxation-promoting ingredients are melatonin, valerian root and rosemary hips, according to a press release.

“I want to provide an alternative for people reaching for the medicine cabinet, for the alcohol,” Bianchi said. “Every day people die from problems with too much or the wrong pharmaceuticals. How many people have you heard of getting killed by rosemary hips?”

One thing most University students are likely to have heard of is the product’s manufacturing location ­— Drank is currently produced at the Coca-Cola plant in Huntsville, Ala., and Bianchi feels the beverage’s significance to the university demographic extends beyond physical proximity.

“College kids are always busy and stressed out,” he said. “College culture is the reason I created this product.”

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Alabama-produced ‘doomsday drink’ targets colleges