Red Bull doesn’t just dominate the energy drink market—it created it. Since first hitting shelves in 1987, the blue and silver can has become a staple in stores across 167 countries. Consumers have downed 50 billion cans of the drink that “gives you wings.” There are no signs of that growth slowing down anytime soon. Sales increased 4.2% in 2014, totaling 5.6 billion cans sold worldwide last year.
What Gives Red Bull its Wings?
The ingredients in Red Bull include sugar (27-g), caffeine (84-mg), taurine (1,000-mg), glucuronolactone (600-mg), inositol, D-Pantothenol, niacin, and Pyridoxine HCL (Vitamin B6). Each 8.3-oz can is 110 calories. As with other drinks, no tests exist to prove that this combination of ingredients is safe for consumption.
From Asia to Austria
The Austrian company first debuted at ski resorts, but its roots stretch to Asia. On a trip to Thailand, Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz noted the “functional drink” that manual laborers consumed to maintain energy levels. In Thailand, the drink targeted the demographic of low-income, manual workers. Mateschitz developed a new formula, adjusted the taste, and partnered with Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya to found Red Bull GmbH in 1984. Finally, they set to work on developing a new branding strategy that positioned energy drinks in mainstream American consumption.
From the Slopes to the Clubs
From extreme sports to swanky night clubs, Red Bull now targets a broader market. The company sponsors dozens of big name professional athletes and markets itself as a high-class drink, beneficial for everyone from students to video gamers. That rebranding secured Red Bull’s top-tier position in the energy drink market. With this strategy, Red Bull effectively invented energy drink advertising and consumption as we know it.
The Downside to the Wings
Despite Red Bull’s skyrocket to the top of energy drink sales, scientists, nutritionists, and governments have expressed serious reservations about the health and safety of the drink from the start. Red Bull was banned in France for 12 years due to concerns over the uncertain effects of heavy and long-term use of the controversial ingredient taurine, an amino acid. Red Bull has been associated with common side effects of energy drinks including dizziness, irritability, potential interference with heart medications, and interactions with heart rate and blood pressure.
However, it quickly emerged that the primary danger with Red Bull occurs when mixing it with alcohol. Just as common at clubs as on the ski slopes, it didn’t take long for Red Bull to secure a spot behind the bar, often alongside vodka. The Vodka Red Bull became a club staple, and chains such as T.G.I. Friday’s and Dave & Buster’s coined drinks that contain Red Bull specifically in their recipes.
When mixed with alcohol, the high caffeine and sugar content in Red Bull masks the tell-tale signs of intoxication. This can lead to increased and prolonged drinking to the point of danger. One study found that subjects who had consumed alcohol combined with Red Bull perceived themselves to be less intoxicated than subjects with the same blood alcohol content level who had consumed only alcohol. In another study, half of the participants drank a combination of Red Bull and alcohol and the other half consumed alcohol and soda water. Results showed that participants who had consumed the Red Bull concoction were twice as likely to want to continue drinking.
While the FDA has spotted this danger and banned some pre-mixed alcohol and energy drink combinations, that doesn’t stop the flow of Vodka Red Bulls.
If you’ve suffered side effects as a result of drinking Red Bull, call us or fill out our form immediately. You may be entitled to damages by filing a suit against Red Bull.