Company: Brain Twist, New York City
Beverage: Fair Warning
Ingredients: Heat flavor: Purified natural spring water, sugar, artificial flavors, citric acid, cellulose gum, sodium benzoate
Collaborators: 7-Eleven Inc., Dallas; Takasago International Corp., Rockleigh, N.J.
Leave it to beverage creator Brain Twist, a national retailer with a penchant for new products and a flavor house to create not only a new beverage but also a new drinking experience. The team of product developers behind Fair Warning, a beverage that creates heating or cooling sensations without actual differences in temperature, is on to something big. Beverage Industry spoke with Brain Twist President Larry Trachtenbroit about the genesis of Fair Warning, which “wowed” the industry after its debut last fall.
“One of the key things about Fair Warning is we wanted to be different. We didn’t want to invent another soda or an energy drink. We were looking for a ‘wow’ factor,” Trachtenbroit says.
Brain Twist worked with product developers at 7-Eleven, who were instrumental in creating the flavor and image profile, and Takasago, which holds a patent on heating- and cooling-sensation flavors. The key ingredient that creates the impression of temperature is part of the flavor, according to Trachtenbroit, who compares it to the hot sensation felt while eating a cinnamon “fireball” candy. Additionally, all the ingredients in the beverage are FDA approved and GRAS certified.
When creating the flavor profile and image, the company bucked the popular trend of introducing a better-for-you beverage. Fair Warning also went against the grain by using a 12-ounce bullet-shaped aluminum package, creating mystery about what was inside.
“This drink is not going to make you healthier; it’s not going to cure any diseases,” says Trachtenbroit. “It’s a drink for the moment. We didn’t want to call it a ‘brain freeze’ or ‘brain heater’. We just wanted to say ‘fair warning’ – it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be cold...And I used to like Van Halen a lot.”
Focus groups conducted with consumers 18 to 24 years old confirmed that less was more for everything from imaging to packaging for Fair Warning. Trachtenbroit says, “We used the older kids’ opinions more for creating the final imaging because younger kids will aspire to what the older kids are drinking. We want to promote some thought, and that’s what the package has done.
“The most important thing is we had the idea and we thought it was a really cool idea. And we think the product will be very successful because the tweaks and adjustments, and what the imaging ended up being was a direct reflection of what the consumers asked for,” he adds.
Considering 7-Eleven’s involvement, it’s no surprise the drink has struck a chord with consumers in the convenience store channel. And while the company didn’t intend for the drink to be served as a mixer, Trachtenbroit confirms that it also has impacted the bar scene, and recommends Captain Morgan rum mixed with the Heat flavor for a unique cocktail.
Brain Twist has plans for a bigger launch of Fair Warning in February or March with “tweaked” flavors of what was introduced during the fall. Currently only available in 7-Eleven stores, Fair Warning is slated to appear in other retail channels in the future.