NEW YORK — Rise and shine. It’s time for breakfast soda.
Taco Bell said Friday that it’s adding Mtn Dew A.M. – a mix of Mountain Dew soda and Tropicana orange juice – to its breakfast menu, which was rolled out earlier this year at select locations. Separately, the industry tracker Beverage Digest said that PepsiCo Inc. next year plans to introduce a drink made with juice, Mountain Dew Kickstart.
Mtn Dew A.M. is mixed in restaurants and available only at Taco Bell; Kickstart would be a packaged drink sold by PepsiCo.
John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, noted that giving consumers drink options for the morning is a way for companies to boost their performance. Overall, per capita soda consumption has been on the decline since hitting its peak in 1998. Mountain Dew Kickstart would also be a way for PepsiCo to feed off the popularity of energy drinks, which saw sales volume grow by nearly 17 percent last year. Each of the top three brands – Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar – saw double-digit gains, according to Beverage Digest.
Taco Bell, which is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., announced the addition in conjunction with its new A.M. Crunchwrap, which combines scrambled eggs, cheese, a hash brown, and bacon or sausage in a single tortilla. It has 680 calories with bacon, or 730 calories with sausage. A 16-ounce cup of Mtn Dew A.M. has 160 calories.
The Mexican-style chain introduced breakfast – which it refers to as “FirstMeal” – at about 800 restaurants in 14 states earlier this year and could go national by 2014 if the test goes well.
Diet Pepsi formula getting sweetener tweak
Diet Pepsi is tweaking its formula to stay sweet a little longer. PepsiCo Inc. is testing new artificial sweeteners that let the soda keep its taste for a longer period of time. The problem is that the current sweetener used in the soda – aspartame – loses its potency faster than high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener that’s used in most regular sodas.
A person with knowledge of the situation said the company had considered importing to the U.S. versions of Diet Pepsi sold in other countries. But now it’s testing other sweetener mixes, with a new version set to come out as soon as next year.
The new version will use the same formula that creates Diet Pepsi’s overall taste, according to the person, who requested anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. But it will use a mix of artificial sweeteners, including acesulfame-potassium, or ace-K, that has a longer shelf life.
Aspartame on its own is more sensitive to heat, which is a problem when sodas sit in trucks or wait to be shipped to retailers. It’s not the first time PepsiCo has tweaked a diet soft drink. The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., made a similar switch to its Diet Mountain Dew in 2006. The Coca-Cola Co. tweaked the sweetener used in Diet Sprite in 2000.Candice Choi, The Associated Press