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Organic energy born in Park City

ANNA BLOOM Of the Record staff

At grocery stores, items labeled "organic" are typically stocked aisles apart from those stamped "carbonated energy drink." While pump-you-up beverages like Red Bull, Full Throttle and Rock Star abound at convenient stores and commercial shopping chains, health food markets tend to steer their customers to their milder forms of pick-me-ups, like coffees or teas.

Health-conscious Parkite and BevSpec, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Jeff O’Neal, known for helping develop natural products at his wife’s Park City store, Mountain Body, took note of the missing beverage. After two years of researching, developing and certifying his own insulin-sensitive, 95-percent organic, vitamin-packed energy drink, this year, he has at last unveiled "Syzmo Energy."

"When you see these energy drinks, they all look the same and many of them have the same ingredients. How do you choose? By name? By color? I wanted to make a one-of-a-kind beverage." he says.

Those who shop at Dan’s Foods or Clockworks Café on Main Street might recognize the new drink. O’Neal unveiled "Syzmo" at a convenience store convention in Las Vegas last September, and has since succeeded in placing his product in three of Whole Food’s regional markets.

O’Neal also knew the name "Syzmo" would resonate with the Latino community, and is selling his product at Anaya’s Market. He says the name is derived from "sismico" the Spanish version of ‘seismic’ to reflect the drink’s energy oomph as well as the origin of the product’s natural Agave nectar sweetener.

The Agave plant has long been used to make premium tequilas such as Patron Silver, but the plant has recently been reintroduced to the United States in a sweetener form at health food chains as an alternative to sugar, O’Neal says.

According to O’Neal, compared to high fructose corn syrup that causes the spiking and crashing of insulin levels, called "bonking," Agave keeps insulin levels relatively stable. While traditional sweeteners can have a Glycemic index level higher than 70, Agave, he says, hovers around 33.

"Organic Blue Agave is as close to ‘diet’ as we could come without being synthetic," O’Neal explained. "It’s got a very low Glycemic index, so it doesn’t cause insulin to jump as much as sugar. It’s healthier for the body and the digestive system, so it doesn’t cause your gut to hurt."

Agave, however, is also considerably more expensive than other sweeteners, O’Neal admits. The plant takes eight years to grow, and needs to be shipped from farms in Guadalajara.

"I’m a leader, not a me-too kind of guy, and I didn’t want to give someone else the chance to come along and do me one better," he says. "I knew it would be more expensive to use Agave it’s the most expensive sweetener in the world — but I have a passion for quality products and I wanted the best ingredients I could find."

"Syzmo" gives a kick to the body with green tea, Yerba Mate, Guarana and vitamins, which means unlike most products that contain Taurine, Olympic hopefuls and professional athletes can enjoy the drink without worrying about failing blood tests for illegal performance enhancers.

Taste was also a key consideration in developing Syzmo, O’Neal adds, noting his drink not only received a gold medal from The American Academy of Taste this January, but has also become a hit in local nightclubs around town.

"I’ve seen people fighting over the last can at Suede and I’ve gotten a standing ovation at O’Shucks when I brought in a fresh supply people really seem to like it," he says.

After offering the drinks at events during the Sundance Film Festival this year, O’Neal says he will be offering his drink at the 2007 Grammy Awards show, as well as other Hollywood events.

Down the road, O’Neal hopes to extend his expertise to other beverages like natural sodas, but for now, he says he remains focused on going where no energy drink has gone before: the health food aisle.

"Energy drinks have a stigma there’s a dark cloud over the entire category," O’Neal says. "We can say for sure [Syzmo] is the natural drink people have been looking for."

For more information, visit http://www.syzmo.com.


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