A 2nd person dies after drinking Panera's "Charged Lemonade"

Originally published at: 2nd death linked to Panera drink


Not sure for everyone else, but my local Panera is still selling this. I assumed they would have immediately pulled it to avoid any potential other issues.

They now have a big sign near it that it contains high levels of caffeine. I’m sure that’s good enough.


780-1,170 mg, yikes!


Perhaps the Canadians were right after all, with their strict limits on how much caffeine soft drinks could contain :


I cannot for the life of me figure out why Panera would even make such a drink, much less market it the way they did. If you’re going to make a drink with a fuck ton of caffeine and sugar, why wouldn’t you advertise that? There is a market for those drinks. It’s the same market as energy drinks. Hell, that’s what this is. It’s an energy drink. So if you want to make an energy drink, market it as an energy drink. There will be people who buy it. But to instead market it with an ambiguous word like “charged” is just baffling to me. It’s like it was chosen to intentionally trick people into thinking it has less caffeine and sugar as it does, and why the fuck would you want to do that? They might as well have hung a sign on the front door of every store saying “SUE US!” I hope someone actually takes this to court, because I want to see the internal documents concerning the development of this drink and its marketing plan. I mean what was the plan here? 1. Trick customers. 2. Laugh at customers as they keel over from a heart attack. 3. Profit? WTF were they thinking?


Each large has more than a scoop of the pre-workout I have on hand(360 mg), which has 1/2 scoop as the official dose.

It also has a bunch of caffeine warning language. Nobody would raise an eyebrow at 3 full scoops of pre-workout being dangerous,so hopefully the “Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products.” defense doesn’t hold up.


I was wondering some of the same things.
Here is one possibility -
According to some googling of the market for energy drinks (which are all disgusting/taste like shit) I found this:

US Energy Drinks Market size was valued at USD 23.49 Billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 47.74 Billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 8.30% from 2023 to 2030.

So in the eyes of a retailer like Panera it’s like “we want to capture some of that market for ourselves”.
The person that comes in and gets a sandwich to go and is a regular drinker of energy drinks, doesn’t have to stop at the 7-11 or whatever.


Sure…but then why wouldn’t you market it as an energy drink?! That’s the part I find baffling. Of course there’s a market for drinks like this. But they didn’t market it to those people because they used an ambiguous term that didn’t necessarily say to everyone “Energy Drink”. It’s like they were trying to make an energy drink without anyone knowing it was an energy drink. That’s what I don’t get.


A first year law school student can shoot that defense down. Yes, the two people who we know about who died after drinking these beverages had other health issues. They both had heart problems. But that doesn’t let Panera off the hook. These are classic eggshell plaintiffs. The only thing that matters is if Panera was negligent. The preexisting health conditions of the plaintiff are irrelevant if Panera didn’t clearly inform them that these were highly caffeinated drinks. And the warning signs apparently didn’t go up until after the first woman died.


The cynic in me wonders if it’s because sugar and caffeine are both addictive, and guessing that Panera is perceived as a healthier option, I wonder if they were looking to hook repeat customers who specifically wouldn’t be interested in a traditional energy drink.

That’s also a possibility, but again, the dangerously high levels of caffeine in just one large drink of this are unnecessary to achieve that goal.


Well, that seems true enough. I admit I find the whole thing baffling too.

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Perhaps the drink should be “behind the counter” and force the customer to come to the register again, only to be told, “no, [1,2] is the limit on this highly caffeinated drink.”


… strictly speaking, I’m hardly convinced “soft drinks” should exist at all :thinking:

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Somehow I missed the BoingBoing story on the first death, although I was aware of it from other news sources. But I just read through the comments section on that story, and I want to make sure everyone understands something. While the in store displays for these drinks today disclose the caffeine content, they did not at the time of the first death in September, 2022. After some complaints went viral on TikTok well before that lawsuit was filed, Panera changed the displays in store to make it clearer how much caffeine was in these drinks. I don’t think the young college student was even aware how much caffeine was in that drink. This man likely didn’t, either, even with the newer in store displays, because he had some developmental delays.

But more importantly than any of that is this:

Charged Lemonade, which has more caffeine in its large size than a 12-ounce Red Bull and a 16-ounce Monster Energy Drink combined.


Frankly, I think there’s a good legal argument that the mere existence of this drink is negligent. Even for an energy drink, it contains an absolutely insane, and dangerous, amount of caffeine.


There is way too much caffeine in there. Add in the location and the free refills and this should be negligence.
Panera had, and probably still has, this drink at the drink fountain next to the normal lemonade and tea. I accidentally started to get some when I intended to get regular lemonade. At the time it bothered me immensely that Panera was now a place I couldn’t allow my kid to go get a drink unescorted. A 7 year old wouldn’t have known the difference, even a good reader! Once in the glass they look identical.


This is why I kinda hope this goes to trial, because I really honestly want to see their internal documents to see just what the hell they were thinking. My guess, though, is that Panera is about to settle these for a fuck ton of money and a nondisclosure and non-disparagement clause. Hopefully the families’ attorneys recognize how much Panera is going to want to keep this quiet, and they make them pay for it.


The statement, which is true enough, was made that it has only as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. This is, oz for oz, the caffeine content is the same. Now the catch: no one is going to drink 6, 8 or 10 oz of this stuff. When you are filling 32 oz cups, the caffeine reaches dangerous levels very quickly. I am a hard-core coffee addict, and go through roughly 32 oz in a day. That is an abnormally high dose, and I have spent years building up to that level. To do that much (or more, this guy apparently had 2-3 of these cups) in a single serving is insane. I have to be careful in timing my intake so as not to get shaky, which can be an issue in my profession. This is just dangerous.


That is a lot of caffeine for a Lemonade, still not at Coffee levels per oz though. I guess the big problem is the not advertising the high caffeine levels? I know a couple of people here at work that will do 2 extra large timmies in the morning, that is like 660mg of caffeine every damn day but they know they are drinking insane amounts ( I won’t get into the one who adds more sugar at his desk to an already triple sugar )

Juice, squash, cordial, shrub, lemonade … are all soft drinks.