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How Bang Energy Drinks Almost Failed

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soda energy drink store - Hitra/Shutterstock

The highs and lows of Bang Energy drinks are one good plot twist away from being an Oscar-nominated corporate thriller. The protagonist (or anti-hero, depending on your perspective) would be none other than Jack Owoc, founder and ex-CEO of Vital Pharmaceuticals, which is the company that created Bang Energy back in 2012. Bang was posited as a healthy alternative to other energy drinks since it had zero sugar and zero calories, all while boasting some of the highest caffeine content of any popular energy drink.

As you might expect from an energy drink mogul, Owoc played fast and loose with the rules and it was his drive to create the healthiest drink possible that ultimately did the company in. Written right at the top of every 16-ounce can was "Super Creatine" in big, bold letters. If that sounds like jargon some marketing company coined to appeal to athletes, that's because that's exactly what it was.

Bang's competitive rival, Monster, sued Vital Pharmaceuticals back in 2018 for false advertising after the company claimed that Super Creatine could cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other diseases in a marketing video that is no longer available. Monster won the lawsuit, ultimately resulting in $336 million in damages owed -- an enormous sum that quickly led to the company filing bankruptcy. In the corporate version of an intercepted touchdown, Monster then turned around and bought the bankrupt billion-dollar company for a measly $362 million in July 2023.

Read more: 15 Popular Hard Seltzer Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

The Caffeine Crash

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man shopping energy drinks - Solstock/Getty Images

It wasn't just one overly ambitious marketing ploy that felled the mighty beverage company. Jack Owoc has a colorful trail of white-collar crimes that follow in his wake. The former CEO had a lawsuit filed against him from the Bang Energy liquidator alleging that he used millions of dollars in corporate funds to start his son's real estate business, buy his own private island, renovate his home, and pay his personal taxes. When the company filed for bankruptcy in 2022, it only had a few million dollars available to pay the $336 million it owed Monster. If the allegations are true, the company's ultimate downfall was thanks in no small part to Owoc's pulling from company's assets.

But before Bang drinkers start grieving the loss of their favorite pick-me-up, remember that Monster bought the company out. They weren't the first company to try and buy Bang, but previous attempts proved unsuccessful until the company was quite literally at death's door.

While the widespread occurrence of corporate consolidation is a cause for some concern, Bang is probably in better hands now. Monster has already stopped producing all of Vital Pharmaceuticals' other products including Natural Bang and Bang MIXX Hard Seltzer. The energy drink had seen decreased sales over the past few years as retailers became aware of the false advertising litigation, resulting in the product being pulled from shelves. The drink has already made its way back to select retailers — and even Amazon — under new management.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.