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If a U.S. soldier's lover in the field is his M-4 assault rifle, his mistress is caffeine.
Caffeinated drinks are some of the best-selling items among military personnel in Iraq, says Judd Anstey, a spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. In January alone, the proud and the brave in Iraq purchased 109,177 cans of Red Bull and 32,997 of Monster Energy.
But the soldiers may be missing their true drink of choice.
Miami Beach entrepreneur Hoby Buppert produces BAWLS Guarana, a fizzy drink with a citruslike taste that packs 80 milligrams of caffeine per twelve-ounce serving and has become the favorite elixir for videogamers around the world. (Competitors Red Bull and Monster Energy contain the same amount of caffeine but also include healthy additives such as taurine and vitamin B. BAWLS is essentially caffeine and sugar, which some soldiers prefer.)
"We've been receiving dozens of e-mails every day from military personnel asking [for BAWLS]," Buppert says. But the ornate blue bottles were too heavy and fragile to ship overseas the entrepreneur's hands were tied.
So in December he unveiled the BAWLS Military Pack, which includes six cans of BAWLS, a tin of BAWLS caffeinated mints, BAWLS Balm Lip Care, and (but of course) BAWLS Camo Playing Cards.
The military packs sell for fifteen dollars plus shipping, and must be addressed to a military post office box. On December 13, 2005, the first day they became available, BAWLS received 1300 online orders.
"We don't make money on this," Buppert says. "We do it to be supportive of our loyal consumers."