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Mom Wants Apology From Energy Drink Company

By Kevin Reece

June 29, 2005


SNOHOMISH COUNTY - Last week at Mill Creek Skate Park in Snohomish County the skaters got a visitor. A beverage distributor opened a cooler full of energy drinks and announced he was handing them out for free.

"It's like oh yeah ... free stuff that's cool," Cameron Nicholson remembers of the encounter.

It was even "cooler" he said when the man started handing out free stickers that the skaters could put on their skateboards to advertise the products. One of the stickers proved more popular than the rest.

It was an image of a woman in a bikini holding one of the 16 oz cans with both hands directly in front of the lower half of her sparse string bikini.

"Ultimate sex drive sticker that one was the one they gave out the most," said Cameron. The drink called Wired XXX promised "Hardcore Energy" and an "Ultimate Sex Drive."

"Those ones went real quick," said Cameron of the sticker the young skaters clamored to get.

Cameron Nicholson is 12 years old.

His mom made him remove the sticker from his skateboard when he brought a bag full of stickers and six cans of the energy drinks home.

"To me, pornographic," said his mom Arlene Sutton. "Tying in sex with these drinks? Handing those kind of stickers out to little boys is beyond my ... I just can't think how anybody would think that's a responsible thing to do. That to me really crossed the line."

A line Cameron's mom says they crossed twice. The drinks, loaded with caffeine and a variety of herbal ingredients that promise everything from increased libido to heightened energy levels, carry warning labels saying that are not recommended for people with heart conditions, not recommended for pregnant women, and not recommended for children.

"Because they have a warning on the can that it's not intended for children that nobody would be marketing it to anyone under age 18," said Sutton of how she believes the drinks should be marketed.

Cameron also has kidney disease and his mom tries to monitor carefully how much sugar, fructose, and other ingredients like caffeine he consumes. Arlene tried to contact the company, Unique Beverage Company of Everett, and we tried too but never received a response.

Sutton says she is hoping at least for an apology.

"I feel like they need to be held accountable for what they're doing to our children."

Currently there are more than 1,000 companies vying for a piece of the lucrative "energy drink" market. The industry leader is still Red Bull with an estimated 60 percent market share and annual revenue of approximately $150 million a year.

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