Honest Kids Juide

The Rise and Fall of the Juice Boxes

It’s official. Juice is out – at least for kids under five. According to just about every relevant professional organization, kids don’t need anything but milk and water to drink. And for that matter, they should be skipping the chocolate milk and other sweetened milks. Juice and sweet drinks will rot their teeth and just might contribute to obesity. Those juice boxes were already fading out. Perhaps all those pouches can go, too.

A Staple of the Obesity Generation

The juice box first appeared in 1974. It was an idea with roots that went all the way to the 1940s and the search for more efficient ways to package milk than those clanking milk bottles of yore.

Juice boxes took over the world of kids’ beverages in the 1980s and became a staple of millennial childhoods. Designated a Humble Masterpiece by the Museum of Modern Art, the Tetra Brik Aseptic box is the best selling beverage carton ever. That’s a whole lotta juice.

As juice boxes proliferated, the food environment changed in many ways for millennials. That’s part of the reason this generation grew up with an emerging pandemic of obesity. Since 1980, obesity prevalence has tripled.

Kids Don’t Need Sweet Drinks

The recommendations issued this week tells us that kids – especially those under five – just don’t need sweet drinks. Milk and water are just fine, thank you. Under six months, breast milk is all they need. This guidance comes with endorsements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, America’s Pediatric Dentists, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Heart Association. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the work to produce all of this.

The beverage industry is already adapting. Flavored waters – like Juicy Waters and Cool Waters – are proliferating to replace all that juice. And you’ll see toddlers sucking on yogurt pouches. Commerce evolves. People find new ways to satisfy thirst. It’s a free market experiment, riding the waves of public and scientific opinions.

Click here for the new recommendations and here for further reporting from the New York Times. For the history of juice boxes, click here. And finally, you can get the scoop on some of the market dynamics here.

Honest Kids Juice, photograph © David Goehring / flickr

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September 20, 2019

2 Responses to “The Rise and Fall of the Juice Boxes”

  1. September 20, 2019 at 8:17 am, Allen Browne said:

    Yes, but the question remains – has the obesity epidemic pushed juice consumption or has juice consumption pushed the obesity epidemic. Very interesting.

    • September 20, 2019 at 9:06 am, Ted said:

      Correct as usual, Allen.