Yoo Hoo, the best sports drink you never thought of…

Dear Yoo Hoo – scratch that –  Dr. Pepper Snapple company:

Once in a while one gets a great idea, and if they’re smart and enterprising, they find some way to make a buck off of it.  Other times they simply “gift” the idea to the world for whatever altruistic reasons or perhaps because they’re too lazy too chase a buck, or perhaps they want to avoid a higher tax bracket.  Whatever.

Anyway, please consider this one of those gifts that comes with virtually no strings attached, aside from the fact that I certainly won’t say no to a truckload of your product if you feel so inclined after I gift you and hordes of hardcore bicycling blog readers with a genuinely life altering (and hopefully for you, sales altering) revelation about your formerly quaint product which goes by the name of YOO HOO.

See, while I occasionally enjoyed Yoo Hoo as a kid, I sort of outgrew it when sodas, and later coffee came into my world.  I mean, you see the product on the shelf, but it no longer registers what one would be achieving by choosing it.

In my mind, it was just a dessert drink without the upside of a caffeine kick.

Nor was it a health drink or a sports drink. It was just, well, Yoo Hoo, which according to Wikipedia is:

Yoo-hoo is an American chocolate beverage. Technically, it is a dairy drink, but contains very little actual milk. The stated ingredients on the label include: water, dairy whey, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, non-fat milk, corn syrup solids, cocoa (processed with potassium carbonate), soybean oil (partially hydrogenated), sodium caseinate (protein source), salt, tricalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, xanthum gum, guar gum, mono-and diglycerides, vanillin (an artificial flavor), soy lechitin, calcium ascorbate (vitamin C), natural flavor, vitamin A palmiate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), vitamin D3 and riboflavoin (vitamin B2).

Stay with me here, there’s a happy ending to this story. Promise.

See, like a lot of folks surfing sites like Bicycle.Net, I exercise relatively frequently and intensively. Often in the heat. For hours. Thus I’m often finding myself in front of the refrigerator case at the minimart looking for just the right drink to help me recover and to fuel me up for the next leg of the ride/run/whatever.

Habitually, that steers one straight to the Gatorade/Powerade section, with the downside being that they’ve probably been sucking down several bottles of similar sugar/sodium concoctions for hours, and do not look forward to more of the same.

Add to that, that after a while, too much of his sugary syrupy stuff can lead to stomach distress.  And add to that, that one of the things I need most is minerals, like sodium and potassium and magnesium, and Gatorade and it’s ilk actually contain relatively little of those.  Without it, painful cramps await.

So one particularly hot day I lingered in the cold section, debating whether to ever leave it.  Not wanting to be forcibly removed by store employees, I assumed a purposefulness to my lethargy by comparing the ingredient list on various drinks, hoping to locate the motherlode of mineral mines.

Out of curiosity I picked up a bottle of good ol’ Yoo  Hoo and was like “I’ll be damned!”

So what I found was:

Product                   Gatorade     Yoo Hoo

1 serving.              8 ozs.              6.5 ozs

Calories.                50                      100

Fat.                          0% RDA           2% RDA

Sodium.                 5%                      8%

Potassium.            1%                      5%

Carbs.                      5%                      8%

Protein.                  zip                      2 grams

Vit A                        nada                  10%

Calcium                “MIA”                25%

Vit D                       zilch                   25%

Riboflavin            null                    10%

Phosphorus       whassat?         15%

In case you’re data-challenged, allow me to interpret.  Even with a bigger serving size, Gatorade provides less of everything.

And that stuff you sweat out that your body NEEDS replenished, like calcium, is not found in sports drinks at all.  But with Yoo Hoo I can get 50 percent of the calcium I need in a day by drinking one sixteen oz bottle.

Now, if I’m surfing the couch all day, I probably want to avoid the calories of either drink — and certainly your calorie-rich brew.  But when I’m out burning a thousand calories an hour, it’s a different story. That’s when I chug a couple tall bottles and I’m fueled up pronto.

I hope you won’t confuse this for another satisfied-customer testimonial. That’s not the point at all.  The point is that YOU’VE GOT A WORLD CLASS SPORTS DRINK and NOBODY KNOWS IT.

Your job, should you see the obvious brilliance of it, is to reposition YOO HOO as such.  But please, allow me to help.

Please consider that as your product slugs it out with sodas and sports drinks for shelf space and reason d’être, other enterprising companies are packaging similar goods and charging an arm and a leg for them because of perceived health benefits. And their promotions are effective, because I’ve been a regular customer and consumer of them.

I submit to you as evidence….Muscle Milk.

Recently I’ve been downing boxes of this stuff in lieu of breakfast as I head out on long rides and want to jumpstart the mineral induction. (Yeh, I should eat a regular breakfast but simply can’t push solid food down the pipe before about 10a; my bad, I know).

Anyway, Muscle Milk spoke to me because an 11 oz box has about 25 percent of all the key vitamins and minerals I desire.  Yeah, it’s pricey, but that must mean it’s good, right?  I’d note that you sorta need to hold your nose while you drink it down because lurking under the chocolate flavoring it’s got a nasty, chemical taste. (Note: there are other flavors, but they are even less effective at masking it’s culinary shortcomings). But that’s an inconvenience, more than anything else.  One trick I’ve incorporated is to mix equal parts YOO HOO and Muscle Milk to take some of the sting out of the taste.

Which got me thinking….

Gatorade is not a serious candidate when it comes to hard core sports drinks. It’s simply sugar water with salt.  But MM holds itself out as something altogether different – and substantially more serious about nutrition. But how would good ol’ YOO HOO stack up against this self-proclaimed heavyweight?

So I did the math, and you’ll find it quite interesting.  This time I used a calculator to make the portion sizes the same, and you can see the stats below:

Product                  MUSCLE MILK     YOO HOO

1 serving               6.5 ozs                   6.5 ozs

Calories                  138                         100

Fat                             10% RDA            2% RDA

Sodium                     9%                        8%

Potassium             15%                        5%

Carbs                         3%                         8%

Protein                    26%                       2 grams

Vit A                         12%                      10%

Calcium                  12%                      25%

Vit D                        12%                      25%

Riboflavin             12%                     10%

Phosphorus         12%                    15%

Tastes like it comes from…

Muscle Milk:  A pharmacy

YOO HOO:      An ice cream truck


Muscle Milk: $2+ for an 11 oz. box

YOO HOO:          compares to soda

Now for the sake of accuracy and fairness, one must note that Muscle Milk has a bunch of additional ingredients to it’s credit.  There’s a healthy doze of magnesium and iodine and zinc and copper and niacin and folate and iron and so on. Therefore, I expect it will remain my Go To drink to jumpstart my day and my workouts.

However, the price for all that extra umph is both a higher price, as well as a very seriously medicinal taste and thickness.  Because of the heavy texture and the unpalatable taste, it’s hard to envision pulling up to said mini mart and reaching for a couple tallboys of Muscle Milk to fuel up for the miles ahead.

But a couple of tall, cold YOO HOOs go down like nothing else. No carbonation to deal with, a pleasant break from the sugar water I’ve invariably been sucking thus far, and a good balance of minerals to replace what’s been lost.

So there’s your break-out marketing angle: Refuel with YOO HOO, or something to that effect.

Naturally you may want to update the packaging graphics to assert the message.  You might even want to sneak a peek at the Muscle Milk ingredient list and see if you can fill in some of the gaps without harming drinkability.  Then you’ll want to get store owners to try stocking it next to the sports drinks, where it belongs. Then you’ll want to start advertising it on sites and In publications oriented to the adult athlete set.  We spend gobs of money in search of great nutrition and supplements, but be sure to come at us with facts, not just words. I’ve done some of that homework for you.  You’re welcome.

And when you  start seeing this stuff flying off the shelves, you can shoot me a note and I’ll let you know where to send that truckload you owe me.


  1. Peter LaDolce says:

    I somewhat tounge and cheak called it my “Recovery Drink of Champions” this year for my Rochester Bycycling Club ride this year. I even have post ride picture with a Yoo Hoo in hand.

  2. system6 says:

    Amen to that. Now if I can get the kids to keep from bogarting my stash the world will be a better place.

  3. It’s an interesting POV but there is one aspect of your evaluation you are missing. Is Yoo Hoo or MM absorbable during a workout? It’s not really a question of who has the most “stuff”, it’s a question of who has the right ammount of stuff in a form that an athletes can use with no gastric problems.
    If the drink isn’t isotonic (hyperetonic) it will actually cause your body to pull water from your system in order to dilute it enough to digest. This will cause you to de-hydrate and potentially give you significant gastric distress and considerably decrease performance.
    An isotonic drink has a certain amount of particles per cubic centimeter. If it is too dense, it can cause the issues I discussed above and cause problems.
    HFCS is a very small particle and will make Yoo Hoo and certainly Muscle Milk to be way to thick to be used as an effective during sports drink.

  4. System6 says:

    Michael – I’ll accept your arguments at face value because I’m not literate as to the implications of hypo/hypertonic characteristics of fluids and implications vis-a-vis hydration. However, either you are or you have completely snowed me. So, thank you.

    Furthermore, at a practical level I would absolutely concur that MM is not a drink to reach for during exercise. It is packed with too much high-value but nevertheless not so easily digestible matter to be readily and speedily digested. Pre- or post-exercise, though, it rocks.

    Ice cold YH, on the other hand, goes down like silk on a hot day and is far easier on the gastric system than yet more Gatorade, if you know what I mean. There are practical limits, though. I certainly wouldn’t suggest filling your bottles with it. Rather, it’s what I look at mid-ride stops when I need “something else” versus more water or sports drink.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. Rick P. says:

    Well I’ll be %$#@…..I thought I was just imagining the boost I was getting from YooHoo during long distance rides. Especially with the road temps around 110 degrees. Sodium and potassium levels in the drink are a real benefit.

  6. bill says:

    Mix it with chocolate protein powder for post workout. Delicious!