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Mountain Dew Introduces Caffeinated Juice as Breakfast Soda

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Kickstart, a "sparkling juice beverage," is PepsiCo's attempt to reach the breakfast crowd. It also includes a few vitamins.

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Mountain Dew is hoping to become part of your morning routine.

The PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) brand is introducing a new drink called Kickstart, a "sparkling juice beverage" with Mountain Dew flavor that contains caffeine, vitamins B and C, and, oh yes, some actual juice.

The idea behind the drink is to reach out to people who don't like coffee or tea in the morning, but who want a little extra buzz beyond what can be found in juice.

Mountain Dew drinkers "didn't really see anything that fit their needs" among the current breakfast drink choices, Simon Lowden, the chief marketing officer for PepsiCo's Americas beverages, told the Associated Press.

But it's unclear whether Kickstart can find a niche among its target audience. For starters, 18- to 24-year-olds are increasingly choosing to drink coffee, rather than caffeinated sodas, according to new survey data from NPD Group.

And while PepsiCo said it doesn't consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, the company might find itself wading into a controversy over the safety of the caffeine-laden beverages. One of those, 5-Hour Energy, has drawn the attention of the Food and Drug Administration after being linked to deaths and serious injuries such as heart attacks.

For its part, Pepsi maintains that Kickstart isn't an energy drink, and contains less caffeine than drinks such as Monster (NASDAQ:MNST). Nevertheless, it's clearly aiming to connect to the audience of energy drink fans: young, active consumers.

The company is pitching the drink as fuel for people "catching the first waves at sunrise, managing bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to the office or hitting fresh powder on the slopes at first light."

It's not the first Pepsi product targeted for breakfast. Remember Pepsi A.M.? The soda included 28% more caffeine per ounce than the original soda. After failing to generate consumer buzz, it was discontinued in 1990, just a year after it was introduced.

Kickstart will hit shelves on Feb. 25.

Editor's Note: This story by Aimee Picchi was originally published on MSN moneyNOW.

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Aimee PIcchi owns shares of PepsiCo, but has not traded in the stock for at least 12 months.
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