Bang Energy Controversy, Explained

Energy drinks haven’t been around that long in the U.S. Pharmaceutical companies in post World War II Japan experimented with energy tonics and eventually beverages with familiar energy drink ingredients like taurine and guarana took Europe by storm. But Red Bull didn’t hit the U.S. market until 1996. Of course, we were busy with the ultra caffeinated soda boom. But it wasn’t a big leap to jump from Mtn Dew and Surge to Red Bull and Monster

Now, we’re seeing the next evolution of energy drinks: healthy energy drinks. What was once marketed as extreme is now a fitness and wellness product. One such product is Bang. So, what is Bang energy drink? Let’s get banging.

What is Bang? 

Bang is an energy drink that tried to wedge itself into the health and wellness sector, marketing itself as “potent brain and body fuel.” Bang claims to have 0 sugars, 0 carbs, and 0 calories in most cans of its over 30 flavors, which include names like Champagne, Rainbow Unicorn, and Radical Skadattle. Bang is extremely caffeinated, containing an alarming 300 milligrams of caffeine in every can. That’s around the equivalent of three cups of coffee. Also, at one point Bang said it contained “Super Creatine.” Creatine is a type of amino acid (the building blocks of proteins and help repair muscles and possibly the brain) and a popular workout supplement. “Super Creatine” is the invention of Bang founder Jack Owoc. In April of 2023, though, a judge ruled that it was false advertising. More on that, below. 

Is Bang going out of business? 

Although they did file for chapter 11 bankruptcy, Bang is not out of business. Well, not right now. They have been through the wringer, though. How did they get there? Jack Owoc founded Bang’s parent company Vital Pharmaceuticals, which launched Bang as a “high-quality nutritional supplement backed by scientific research.” Bang stood out from other energy drinks with its promise of 0 sugar, 0 carbs, 0 calories, massive amounts of caffeine, and “Super Creatine” advertised on every can. They made a big enough impact that by 2020 they started an exclusive agreement with PepsiCo for its distribution in the U.S. Around that time, Bang was the number three highest selling energy drink in the U.S., behind Red Bull and Monster. 

Things started to turn around however when Monster sued Bang for false advertising. Monster claimed that Bang used the “Super Creatine” label to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. And indeed, Bang founder Jack Owoc had made some wild claims about the stuff, saying that “Super Creatine” was “20 times more effective at reaching the brain than other forms of creatine.” And that Bang could “reverse mental retardation” and cure neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. But it turned out there was no actual creatine in Super Creatine and no research to back up those claims. 

Monster won a $293 million false advertising claim and Bang had to stop using the term “Super Creatine.” Bang also lost lawsuits to Sony for unauthorized use of their music in social media campaigns and to the Prince estate for unauthorized use of Purple Rain. It was also around this time that Bang founder Jack Owoc lashed out at Pepsi saying they were intentionally sabotaging their distribution deal. Pepsi pulled out of the deal and invested instead in Celsius energy drink. Bang declared bankruptcy after the lawsuits and removed Jack Owoc from his positions as CEO and “chief science officer.” So, as you can see, while not out of business, Bang is not at the peak they once were. All of this is good news for me because I can finally get back to inventing my Super Duper Creatine drink! Thanks, Bang!

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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