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Pepsi Joins Weed Game with Infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks

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Written by Sarah Friedman
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You know things have really gone mainstream when major corporations start getting in on something. And such is the case with Pepsi and the growing cannabis industry.  What did the company do? It just announced the release of its new Pepsi infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks.

Pepsi is jumping in the weed game with its new infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks which contain a nice dose of hemp seed oil. Will this start a race between large drink manufacturers to get more cannabis products out? Stay tuned to life to find out. We’re all about covering this emerging field, and work hard to get you the best news possible. To keep up, sign up for The THC Weekly Newsletter for all the best news items as they happen, as well as access to premium deals on products like flowers, vapes, edibles, and more! We also offer great deals on cannabinoid compounds like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC . Head over to our “Best-of” lists to find them!

A little on Pepsi

Originally founded in 1902, PepsiCo is a multinational corporation based out of America that manufactures and sells food and beverage products. The current version of PepsiCo came into existence in 1965, when its previous entity of Pepsi-Cola merged with Frito-Lay to form PepsiCo. How big is PepsiCo? As of the beginning of 2021, the corporation had 23 brands, which each bring in over $1 billion in sales yearly, and has products sold in over 200 countries. In 2020 alone, PepsiCo’s net revenue topped $70 billion.

While we are familiar with all of PepsiCo’s varied brands, the most well-known is the company’s namesake, Pepsi-Cola, or just Pepsi. First developed in 1893, and introduced as Brad’s Drink (as it was first developed by a guy named Caleb Bradham), it received it’s new – and ongoing – name of Pepsi-Cola in 1898, which became simply Pepsi in 1961.

Pepsi’s main rival has always been Coca-Cola, which debuted slightly earlier in 1886. Coca-Cola employed the actual use of cocaine in its drinks, hence the name of the beverage that still remains today. In contrast, Pepsi never had any narcotic substance in any of its beverages. These days Coke relies on its addictive sugary sweetness, much like Pepsi, with both sodas being two of the most popular beverages in the world today.

Pepsi

Pepsi infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks

The cannabis industry has really taken off in the last several years, with legalizations in many states spurring on the growth of the industry. Tons of new products come out every day, including cannabis-infused foods and beverages, like energy drinks. Though the majority of these products are being put out by smaller companies, the popularity of cannabis-infused products has certainly reached a fever pitch, and we know this because Pepsi just launched its first cannabis infused product in the form of an energy drink.

On Tuesday February 8th, the company unveiled its line of hemp seed oil infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks. The drinks contain other natural extracts besides hemp seed oil, and are also infused with spearmint and lemon balm. Each can contains 80mg of caffeine.

Says PepsiCo’s general manager and chief marketing officer for its energy line, Fabiola Torres, “It’s a combination of herbals that can help us to relax, but not to sleep.” These Rockstar drinks have less caffeine than other Rockstar offerings which contain as much as 160mg to 300mg of caffeine. Said Torres in an interview with the New York Post, this product came around because about 91% of Pepsi drinkers have indicated that they “wanted a beverage that lifts their mood.”

These Rockstar drinks, dubbed Rockstar Unplugged, are now available in 12oz cans, and come in the following flavors: blueberry, passion fruit, and raspberry cucumber. Prices are $1.99+ a can nationwide. This is not the first appearance of infused energy drinks by Pepsi though. In April of last year, Pepsi released its infused Rockstar Energy + Hemp drink in Germany, which was similar, except for containing double the caffeine of the US product.

To be clear on the product being put out, the Pepsi infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drink is not a CBD-infused drink, but only uses hemp oil. This is at least party because its illegal to market CBD in food products since its an active ingredient in an FDA-approved medication. Hemp seed oil is not, and is simply the oil taken out of hemp seeds.

Why the new Pepsi infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drink is a big deal

If everything about the PepsiCo company stated above seems like unnecessary background information, the reason for it, is to simply show the scale that PepsiCo (and the Coca-Cola company) operates on in the world. There are tons of smaller companies out there as well, of course, but they are often under the general radar because of size, and are often not known about widely. When companies like PepsiCo or Coca-Cola start doing something, it’s certainly noticeable.

cannabis infused drinks

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola don’t have the option of being like smaller companies that can put out products like CBD-infused beverages, because they’re too big to get away with it. This explains the use of hemp seed oil, and no other part of the plant. What they can do, is what is being done now, capitalize on a new trend in the best way possible by legal means.

Though smaller companies can put out products that aren’t completely legal (or that are), without getting a lot of press, it’s a big deal when these big corporations pick up on a trend. This is because it shows there’s a mass appeal, and big corporations sure hate missing out on revenue for something that the masses will buy. So it says quite a bit about the climate of an industry when they do.

For example, when diet drinks came out, it was these companies responding to consumer desires to lose weight, or to simply not gain more from the beverage they’re drinking. And the fact that such products became so widespread, is because weight loss represents such a widespread idea among the masses. If it had only applied to a small percentage of the population, diet drinks probably never would’ve become a thing, but because it’s such a ubiquitous issue, its reflected by all the diet options these companies put out.

This seems to be the same concept with this new entrance into the weed industry that Pepsi is making by releasing its infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy Drinks. Enough consumers have been jumping on the cannabis bandwagon of late, that this new desire of consumers is now being reflected by large corporations incorporating cannabis into their products.

What to expect in the future

The first thing to expect is that since Pepsi just released a cannabis product via its infused Rockstar Unplugged Energy drinks, that Coca-Cola is sure to put out its own offering soon. In fact, back in 2018 Coca-Cola was in talks with Aurora Cannabis to form a partnership, which never transpired. In 2019, Coca-Cola’s Monster Beverages paired with Corona company Constellation Brands. While there was initial consideration for a CBD drink, because of the legalities, this proposed too many problems.

However, especially if sales are good for Pepsi’s new product, its nearly a sure thing that Coke will have its own version soon enough. And that’s just what works for current cannabis legislation in the States now. As regulations change federally, it can be fully expected that both of these corporate giants will be using whatever parts of the cannabis plant are deemed legal, to try to keep their cannabis-preferring drinking populations, from straying to other brands.

Pepsi infused rockstar

What I also personally wonder about, is why neither of these corporations have created products that can be sold specifically in legalized locations. Perhaps regulation currently prevents this, but other smaller companies do legally produce infused beverages with both THC and CBD, and are authorized, sometimes in more than one state. While I admit that I haven’t dug into why this is the case, I do find it interesting that neither of these corporations exist in that capacity at the moment. Assuming they legally can, I expect this to happen in the future soon too.

I also expect, quite sadly, that an industry built right now on mom-and-pop enterprises, will likely head more in a corporate direction with the entrance of large corporations into the mix. And products that are now often being produced with natural ingredients, and without as many harsh chemicals, will be replaced by the McDonaldized, low-quality versions that corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are known for.

Conclusion

I’m actually surprised it took this long for a major corporation like PepsiCo to make a move like this. Especially considering the products are infused with hemp seed oil only, which isn’t as controversial as CBD and THC. Kind of seems like the second these trends started blowing up, that these corporations would be taking advantage. Even so, slow-with-the-pick-up or not, this signals the beginning of a corporate weed industry, and in my opinion, a horrible direction to go in. But that’s just me, you are welcome to form your own opinion.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.

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