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PepsiCo Courts Sheep Counters With Latest Drink, Driftwell

by Rudy Sanchez on 09/14/2020 | 2 Minute Read

PepsiCo is known more for its caffeinated offerings such as its namesake cola and Ecto Cooler-tinged Mountain Dew, and there's always the turbocharged variations like Game Fuel and the occasional Coffee-Cola experiment. 

However, the global food and beverage giant has announced a new drink that aims to help consumers wind down.

Dubbed Driftwell, the new product is the result of a company-wide contest and is the fastest beverage PepsiCo has ever developed. Driftwell contains 200 grams of L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, long observed as having stress-mitigating properties. Each can will also have 10% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, a mineral supplement commonly taken to improve sleep and mood.

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“From a scientific and regulatory perspective, we feel really good about making that claim around L-theanine. Specifically, we have safety in clinical data to prove that it works,” Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at Pepsi’s North American beverages unit, told CNBC.

Driftwell comes in 7.5oz cans, dominated by two soothing hues of blue, a yellow ball floats in the bottom third, and there are no sharp edges to be found. The typography suggests a sense of calm, and the wordmark’s shape gives it motion that it is indeed powering-down and not amping-up. Driftwell comes in one flavor at launch, Blackberry Lavender.

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A recent Consumer Reports study, published in January of this year found that at least 68% of Americans reported having trouble sleeping at least one night a week. Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, physicians and researchers have found the problem to become more acute, with some dubbing the phenomenon “Coronasomnia.”

Though L-theanine and magnesium have a long association with improving sleep and calming nerves, PepsiCo’s Driftwell faces stiff competition from CBD, a cannabis-derived compound popularly taken for the same effects. Though a market certainly exists for calm-inducing beverages, the ambiguous and legally murky area of CBD-supplemented food and drinks in the US makes Driftwell a safer gamble for PepsiCo, as it adds another functional and wellness product to its portfolio.

Driftwell will be available online and in-store by the year’s end.

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