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    Couche-Tard is Thirsty for More

    Canadian c-store retailer debuts exclusive cool summer drinks.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard, operator of more than 5,300 convenience stores in North America, is launching four new beverages for Canadian stores the summer season. They range from an upgraded iced coffee, to an energy drink with 7 percent alcohol by volume and the latest gross-out Sloche flavor, Gadoue (slush), The Gazette Montreal reported.

    Couche-Tard is also exclusively selling Fruite Bulles Tetes a Claques (TaC), fizzy, faux fruit-flavored drinks that tie into a popular humor Web site of the same name.

    Lassonde Inc., packaging company for Oasis, Fairlee, Everfresh and Rougemont juices, have produced 600,000 bottles of the limited-edition drink bearing the likenesses of TaC characters Monique, Raoul and the Captain of DC-132. The site gets about 1 million hits a day.

    "There was already a Tetes a Claques clip about a guy getting on a plane with a bottle of grape juice," Nathalie Nasseri, Lassonde's director of marketing, told The Gazette. "Everyone knew it. We realized we should try to do something with them."

    A bottle of Fruite is prominently displayed in a new clip called Le Pilotte, Part 3.

    Lassonde talked to Salambo Productions, which did the Web animation, and Salambo talked to Couche-Tard. As a result, a three-way partnership was born.

    According to the label, each 345-milliliter serving of Fruit Bulles has 41 grams of carbohydrates -- between 14 and 17 percent of the recommended daily serving, no vitamin A or C, and no iron or calcium. The single-serving drinks retail for $1.59.

    The convenience store chain has 560 outlets across Quebec and anywhere between 8 and 9 percent of Couche-Tard's annual revenues there come from beverage sales, the report stated. That translates to about 210 million fountain or bottled drinks each year.

    Keeping the flavors fresh and fun is essential, Chantale Sajo, the retailer's marketing director, told the paper.

    Couche-Tard saw slushy drink sales soar after creating a house brand, Sloche, and introducing flavors such as Winchire Wacheur (windshield washer), Sang Froid and Poussin Frappe (crushed chick).

    The muck-colored Gadoue sells for between $1.58 and $1.99. More than 200,000 of them are sold a week during the summer.

    For the adults, Montreal-based Blue Spike Beverages developed Octane, which hit shelves yesterday. The drink is sold in bottle-shaped aluminum cans and contains 7 percent alcohol. It contains guarana, a caffeine-like stimulant made from a South American fruit seed. The drink is also being sold through liquor-store chains in Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

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