by Nicki Wood
Drinks merchandiser, 2000 was a great year, you know that? That prime eye-level space was jam-packed with sugar-free formulations of every soft drink on the market. Great for people like me, who would rather eat their daily sugar allotment than drink it.
And 2005 -- Beverage Merchandiser, it was another great year for convenience store beverage customers, with green tea-based drinks in every case. So many, in fact, that the New Yorker had a funny cartoon about them. I loved them.
I realize time moves on, Beverage Merchandiser. Mature markets aren't profitable. What IS profitable is pep! The ole vim and vigor! That go-all-night feeling you get from ENERGY DRINKS. Four refrigerated soft drink cases of them at Exxon. Never has there been assembled a larger chilled collection of action verbs and menacing images expressed in acid colors: Amp, Vault, Red Bull, Rock Star, Monster, Full Throttle. Do cars even have throttles anymore? And what the heck is Nos? Like "up your nos(e)? Or like No-Sleep?
Is everyone who walks in the place drunk or sleepy? All I want is a non-caffeinated, sugar-free drink of any kind. Any kind at all. On the sixth shelf down, just above one single row of milk and juice -- what is that? A Diet Coke. Caffeinated, sure, but sugar-free. Hey, Beverage Merchandiser Person, this convenience store selection is old school that way -- just like 1998.