"They didn't really see anything that fit their needs," he said.
Lowden said Kickstart was developed independently from a Taco Bell breakfast drink introduced last year that combines Mountain Dew and orange juice. PepsiCo says Kickstart, which is carbonated, is also not a soda because its 5 percent juice content qualifies it to be considered a "juice drink" under guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency doesn't have definitions for what qualifies as a soda or an energy drink.
With the growth of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull expected to slow, Kickstart could also signal the emergence of a new category that plays off the promise of energy and other health benefits, said John Sicher, publisher of the trade journal Beverage Digest.
In a nod to the growing concerns about sugary drinks, for example, Kickstart also uses artificial sweeteners to reduce its caloric content to about half that of regular soda; a can has 80 calories.
"It's a very interesting experiment capturing a number of attributes," Sicher said, likening it to Starbucks' Refreshers drinks, which promise "natural energy" from green coffee extract.