As energy drinks come under fire from the medical community, the New York Times takes a look back on another caffeine-fueled controversy. In 1911, a drink came under fire in a Chattanooga, Tennessee courtroom for containing 80 milligrams of caffeine -equivalent to a modern Red Bull. That drink was ultimately vindicated, and caffeine content remains unregulated by the United States government. In fact, American still guzzle that now-famous drink without much reserve-it was Coca-Cola. When Harvey Washington Wiley, then head of the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Chemistry, filed a lawsuit against Coke, he accused the company of adding a dangerous substance to its drink. At the time, little research existed about caffeine's effects on the human body. So the Coca-Cola Company signed on Harry Levi Hollingworth, a Barnard College psychologist. Hollingworth undertook an extensive study in just 40 days.
Hollingworth founds that medium levels of caffeine made his subjects perform better on different psychological tests-though many found it hard to fall asleep. Yet, Hollingworth's results never met a jury, since a judge dismissed the case a mere week after the study's completion. Hollingworth still published his data in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Just last month, the Journal published a new study expressing concern about high levels of caffeine in energy drinks.
Today, the debate continues about how much caffeine should be allowed in energy drinks. Although Coke now has a much lower level of caffeine than it did in 1911, concerned citizens are currently focusing on beverages that pack a 1911-sized caffeine punch. Energy can come in many forms, however. Try this tasty, energizing smoothie recipe if you're looking for an alternative to Red Bull.