Hey! It’s your fearless Fingers editor back from an unexpected and thoroughly unpleasant sickness last week. Thanks for your patience while I dig out of my inbox and get back on schedule.
Meanwhile, here’s a question that’s been on my mind a lot lately:
Which soft-to-hard alcopop crossover is going to finally fly too close to the sun and attract a regulatory smackdown that kills the category?
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This is no idle contemplation. Even casual readers of Fingers know that I think there’s a backlash coming to the extended alcopop redemption arc that beverage companies have been enjoying for the past couple years. Each new entry to the beverage-alcohol market by a formerly virgin juice/soda/etc. raises the stakes on the entire segment, and we may look back at this next one coming down the pike as the one that finally flew too close to the sun.
Amid my wretched viral fugue state last week, I received a message via the FingersTip™️ Line from a grocer in the Pacific Northwest alerting me that Walmart retail sets were listing a new product: SunnyD vodka seltzer. A day later, I received a PR teaser announcement to the same effect. Though the product’s website isn’t live yet (lol), a 4.5 % ABV version of SunnyD orange juice/drank, beloved by cafeteria kiddos nationwide since time immemorial, is indeed coming soon to a liquor store near you. Consider yourself warned.
Speaking of warnings: despite legislative action from state lawmakers in Virginia and Illinois, and a direct shot across the bow from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Hard Mtn. Dew remains unbowed, announcing a rollout of a new flavor with a campaign that… well, here, just look:
The URL of <https://definitelyover21.com/> sure seems like the sort of thing PepsiCo and Boston Beer Company (who partner to produce Hard Mtn. Dew) will be asked to explain to politicians and/or federal regulators in the not-so-distance future, doesn’t it? But I digress. The question stands:
From where I’m sitting, the frontrunners (in no particular order) in this race of no winners are:
Hard Mtn. Dew
Monster The Beast Unleashed
AriZona hard iced tea
Simply Spiked hard lemonade
Fresca Mixed vodka spritz
Something foolish that Truly hasn’t even done yet, but probably will
And now, of course, SunnyD vodka seltzer
I’ve written a lot about this in the past, and I’ve certainly got my opinions. But today, I’m curious to hear yours. Who’s going to bring down the banhammer? Will the banhammer even be brought? How much longer can this go on unchecked? And so on. Comments are open, let’s get into it!
My money's on High-C (Hi-C with THC) or Capri-Sun just putting booze in the stab-packs and calling it a day. What I'd really like to see is those Mondo drinks with the plastic twist-caps get, ahem, juiced up.
Via email from an anonymous reader:
"My take on this is Gen Z who I’m in med school with are drinking waaaaaay less than we did so these brands are appealing to older gens with nostalgia. I mean you weren’t living in the 90s if you weren’t drinking “the Dew”. They all have enough deep pockets to fight against anyone going after them. In other words, bring it. They don’t care. Meanwhile, craft bev brands (of any kind) can’t afford the legal woes (though that still doesn’t stop some companies) the big brands can while using it to advance their brands. It’s working. Gone are the days of displaying your C&D in the tasting rooms. So I think the big brands will take advantage of the situation as long as they can and the margins are wide enough."