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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Circle K is offering an alternative for those looking for a boost beyond a traditional cup of java or an energy drink. The convenience store chain has added a line of "energy boosters" and flavor shots to its fountain drink stations, according to a report by the Arizona Daily Star.
A few stores in Tucson now feature vanilla, cherry, raspberry and lime flavors that can be added to Coca-Cola and Pepsi products. Customers can also add "energy boosters" to sodas, iced tea or lemonade, including shots of Vitamin C and echinacea, ginkgo biloba and ginseng, caffeine and guarana and Vitamin B-12.
Installed in mid-July, Circle K has been slowly adding the flavor and energy boosters to about 140 stores in the state, with plans to install the options at another 545 stores in Arizona and the Las Vegas region, Larry Brueggemier, director of foodservice for Circle K Stores Inc.'s Arizona division, told the newspaper.
"It will become standard at all stores in the next two years," he said.
Facing increased competition from packaged beverages, fountain drink sales have been declining about 2 percent a year for the past five years, Brueggemier said. Adding the flavor and energy boosters is a way to reverse that trend, he said.
"We see this as another competitive edge for Circle K," Brueggemier noted.
The sugarless flavor and energy boosters are manufactured by Flavor Systems International Inc., an Ohio company specializing in food and beverage flavorings.
The energy boosters include:
"Go on Defense" -- Vitamin C and echinacea mix.
"Be More Alert" -- Made of ginkgo biloba and ginseng.
"Bring Balance" -- Vitamin B-12 mix.
"Boost Your Energy" -- made with caffeine and guarana.
So far, college students and professionals have been adding the shots to their drinks, said Frank Holm, a manager at the Circle K store at 1735 W. Speedway.
When it comes to getting an energy boost, a University of Arizona health professor said it would be better to stick with a multivitamin and avoid the energy boosters.
"Are we basically recommending that people drink soda as a way to enhance health? That's absolutely the wrong message to get out there," said Cynthia Thomson, an assistant professor in the university's department of nutritional sciences.
Vitamin C can contribute to a healthy immune system, but taking it with a Coke might not be the best way to get the full effect, she said.
Brueggemier said Circle K does not make any health claims about the fountain shots.
"It's a point of differentiation for Circle K. We aren't making scientific claims but we think consumers will see this as an added value," he said.