DALLAS — Convenience-store operator 7-Eleven Inc. is telling franchises to pull a high-caffeine drink from its shelves because of the product's name: Cocaine.
The company acted after getting complaints from parents of teens, who are a big part of the drink's target audience.
"Our merchandising team believes the product's name promotes an image which we didn't want to be associated with," said Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven.
Cocaine comes in red cans, with the name spelled out in what are meant to resemble lines of white powder.
According to the label, each 8.4-fluid ounce can contains 280 milligrams of caffeine _ more jolt than a cup of coffee, a can of Coca-Cola or the leading energy drink, Red Bull _ but no cocaine.
The drink is made by Redux Beverages of Las Vegas, which markets it as "The legal alternative."
Hannah Kirby, the company's managing partner, said 7-Eleven stores didn't account for many sales of the drink. It hit shelves in New York and California in August and is now available in more than a half-dozen states, mostly in mom-and-pop convenience and liquor stores.
This isn't the first time Cocaine has been yanked. Some stores in the New York area pulled the drink after local politicians complained. It's all part of the company's plan to stand out in the fast-growing energy drink market.
"We knew the name was going to be provocative," said Kirby, whose husband, James, created the drink.
Kirby said the company wasn't glorifying an illegal drug in the eyes of its young consumers. "Kids understand the difference between a controlled substance and an energy drink," she said.
Chabris, the 7-Eleven spokeswoman, said the Dallas-based chain is recommending that franchisees not stock the drink.
Chabris said a vendor that isn't recommended by 7-Eleven "dropped the product off at some stores in Northern California." She said she didn't know how many stores carried it.
7-Eleven stores sell other energy drinks, which nutritionists warn can cause caffeine and sugar highs followed by crashing lows among kids who consume them — sometimes several in a row.
Researchers in Chicago reported this month that they saw a surprisingly high number of cases of caffeine abuse over the past three years, including 12 percent that required hospital treatment. The average age of the victims was 21.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.