Walk into any convenience store and head to the glass cases where cold drinks are kept and you will find no shortage of choices when it comes to the ever-growing market for energy drinks.  Customers buy them early in the morning and late in the evening and we all probably know of someone who is almost hooked on them.


We are also starting to learn that the downside to these drinks may far outweigh the upside in the boost they give to some.

Last month Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton missed some games with vision problems and it was discovered he had drying of the cornea caused by too much caffeine and energy drinks.  Hamilton, who has had more than his share of problems with drugs and alcohol, was reportedly addicted to the drinks.  Once he stopped his vision reportedly got better very quickly.

Now the Food & Drug Administration is looking into reports of five deaths and a non-fatal heart attack that may have been caused by Monster, which according to some reports has passed Red Bull as the best-selling energy drink in the U.S. and has cornered about 40% of the market.

Parents of a 14-year old girl are suing Monster claiming their daughter died after drinking two cans within a 24-hour period.  The manufacturer of the drink denies any blame and said they are not aware of any deaths that are due to their drink.

This is all pretty new because the energy drink market has not been around that long.  Jolt Cola is considered the first in the U.S., making its debut in 1985 and using the slogan “all the sugar and twice the caffeine.”  Red Bull was launched two years later in Austria and it arrived in this country in 1997.  It has been the biggest seller here since then although by some accounts Monster has recently passed it…the two clearly dominate the category and will do about $5 billion in sales this year.

Like many I have tried these kinds of drink before (AMP Cherry is my favorite) and honestly don’t know if it’s given me a boost or not. Part of me wonders if it’s a case of mind over matter…you slug down a drink and expect it to give you some energy.  However it’s clear that people need to exercise some caution here and certainly it would seem that a 14-year old has no reason to need one of these drinks to make it through a day.