NEW YORK (AP) — If you don't like coffee or tea, Mountain Dew has a new breakfast drink that might perk you up.
PepsiCo Inc. is rolling out a new drink called Kickstart this month that has Mountain Dew flavor but is made with 5 percent juice and Vitamins B and C, along with an extra jolt of caffeine.
The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., is hoping to boost sales by reaching Mountain Dew fans at a new time of day: morning.
PepsiCo said it doesn't consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, noting that it still has far less caffeine than drinks like Monster and Red Bull and none of the mysterious ingredients that have raised concerns among lawmakers and consumer advocates.
But Kickstart, which comes in flavors such as "energizing orange citrus" and "energizing fruit punch," could nevertheless give the company a side-door into the fast-growing energy drink market without getting tangled in any of its controversies. The drink comes in the same 16-ounce cans as popular energy drinks made by Monster Beverage Corp., which also offers options with juice content. And the TV ad features young men skateboarding, reminiscent of the marketing themes used by energy drink makers.
Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo's Americas beverages, says the idea for Kickstart came about after the company learned through consumer research that Mountain Dew fans were looking for an alternative to traditional morning drinks such as coffee, tea and juice.
"They didn't really see anything that fit their needs," he said.
Lowden said Kickstart was developed independently from a Taco Bell breakfast drink introduced last year that combines Mountain Dew and orange juice. PepsiCo says Kickstart, which is carbonated, is also not a soda because its 5 percent juice content qualifies it to be considered a "juice drink" under guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency doesn't have definitions for what qualifies as a soda or an energy drink.
With the growth of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull expected to slow, Kickstart could also signal the emergence of a new category that plays off the promise of energy and other health benefits, said John Sicher, publisher of the trade journal Beverage Digest.