Put down the Red Bull and chill, dude, with Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda

With hard times and threatening skies raising our anxiety, we could use some low-cost relief.

Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda hopes to mellow out the country one $2.49 bottle at a time. Touting its active ingredient kava, a South Pacific root that supposedly calms the nerves, the brand is part of a new line of "slow-down" or "anti-energy" drinks expected to seize the market in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Slow Cow and Ex Chill are expected to provide some of the competition, the Dec. 29 story said, but Mary Jane's is the one purposely using its name to equate it with the tranquility-bestowing properties of marijuana. No cannabis is in the drink, however.

Not surprisingly, Mary Jane's already has established a beachhead in Southern California, with 70% of sales taking place there, according to the paper. 7-Eleven said it was selling 14 bottles of Mary Jane's a day, a healthy beginning to take on the likes of Red Bull and other beverages intended to rev up the synapses, according to the article.

Mary Janes's is counting on more caffeine-addled energy-drink consumers to seek an antidote. Kava likely works, Michael Pollastri, a pharmaceuticals chemist, told the Times. Why else would it be a 1,000-year-old folk remedy?

The FDA has not restricted sales, even by age, but has warned people with liver problems to consult their doctor before consuming any kava-based product, according to the article.

Kava presented one nagging marketing obstacle for creator Matt Moody, a Denver-based supplement maker. Unlike other soothing natural ingredients such as Chamomile and Valerian that are used in the calm-down drinks, kava tastes yucky. So Mary Jane's added cane sugar, creating a "sweet tea meets soda" taste, Kristie Richardson of San Clemente, Calif., said in the story. Mary Jane's has become part of her daily routine. "I put my 7-month-old to bed, open up a Mary Jane's Soda and chill," Richardson said.

Santa Monica, Calif., waiter Nathan Scholl said the drink made him "slightly euphoric."

That's nirvana for the drink manufacturers who plan to annul our angst in 2010. Economic reality might force them to amp down their expectations, Beverage Marketing Corp. told DailyFinance, but perhaps there's no unsettling news that a little kava can't make go down easier .
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