Local Currents


OBL and Lagunapalooza

Dave Vanderveen

“Politics may not be the oldest profession, but the results are the same.” Janis Joplin.

This week my partners and I went to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress about keeping the long arm of the Food and Drug Administration out of energy drinks. We ended up with a wild array of Laguna-related connections and left encouraged.

Arriving the day after President Obama announced the dispatch of Osama Bin Laden (OBL), the District of Columbia seemed to be in a better-than-average mood, although the armaments-per-block among local police were higher than the armaments-per-frame in a Schwarzenegger movie.

I reached out to our man in DC, Erik Haug, an LBHS alumnus and recent George Washington University graduate. Erik’s been running XS Energy Drink parties in DC clubs and getting stellar results. He recounted the enthusiastic-yet-well-mannered street celebrations that occurred after SEAL Team Six concluded one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history.

On the flight out I finished a new book by Laguna Beach’s Pulitzer-prize-winning author Maurice Possley. “Hitler in the Crosshairs” is about WWII GIs, their liberation of Germany, search for Adolf Hitler, and their connection to that manhunt through a golden pistol taken from his desk.

The book is a fun read of detective-like pursuits that highlights why Possley is an award-winning investigative journalist. It was an interesting coincidence to be mentally concluding the manhunt for Hitler at the same time that the Bin Laden saga was ending.

Our quest to stop energy drink terrorism from federal bureaucrats was less harrowing than a covert military operation, and no coercion was required to get members and staff to consume our energy drink cocktails at a society event XS sponsored.

The good news is that the current Congress is not run by anti-business legislators like Henry Waxman, who attacked Cheerios for mentioning the heart health benefits of their oats. When the Democrats lost power, many of Waxman’s staff went to the Deathstar of beverage oversight, the FDA.

The agency, which has hardly been a friend to business owners, has been rumbling about doing long-range studies on energy drinks. It doesn’t take a food-science expert to figure out that drinking 20 oz cans loaded with sugar and caffeine mixed with a sedentary lifestyle won’t deliver great long-term results, particularly in a national battle against obesity and diabetes.

While the big three market leaders in energy drinks produce and sell beverages that may be challenging to defend in light of state and national attempts to improve nutritional decisions, there are other successful brands that do not fall under the same umbrella.

Some XS Energy Drinks contain caffeine, but all are sugar-free and also deliver doses of B vitamins. We believe chronic use can be highly beneficial. Through partnerships with athletes and health organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, we continue to hear great results both short and long term. XS sponsors local School Power and elementary, middle school and high school sports and activities.

Unfortunately, the way that government agencies operate, there is rarely a well-designed approach to categories that reflect all players. Bureaucracitc bigotry is the modus operendi.

Meeting with the Republican members of the House Subcommittee on Health, their staff and others with key roles was encouraging. Every conversation was clear when we presented the details of our product; we would have support to keep government regulation out of our Laguna Beach brand and business.

In a classic DC-moment, we had lunch with Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Select Intelligence Committee and then saw him on a CNN evening show assuring the public over Bin Laden’s death. Glenn Rogers, a Laguna friend and partner in our energy drink business, commented about how small the Washington beltway is and how easy it is to make national news.

When we give up control over our lives to an alien entity, we lose our right to self-determination. We either choose to engage and become proactive about potential threats or we suffer the consequences we allow to happen to us.

Whether taking the fight to Pakistan with U.S. special forces or our own local attempts to impact FDA oversight, we have benefitted from being vigilant in the defense of liberty both at home and outside the Laguna Beach bubble.

David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].



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  1. To equate the FDA with a terrorist organization, and their potential oversight of his product as “energy drink terrorism” seems a little extreme to the casual reader of the Local Currents column. Of course, as with any good yarn, the narrative gets more outlandish as we’re led to believe that a lobbying boondoggle to DC, has parallels with our Special Forces extinguishing a mass murderer. What your columnist lacks in literary device aptitude is superbly counterbalanced by a vanity which would have been completely at home in Washington DC.

    If the author had been consuming his energy drink before writing this schoolboy drivel, perhaps the FDA are on to something in seeking to regulate it?

  2. My point was fairly simple regarding the FDA and the extremes that government agencies are overstepping where Cheerios is considered a threat to America by the Henry Waxman’s of the world.

    XS, although in the same beverage category, is totally unlike the big three energy drinks and should not be judged on the same standard–particularly where chronic, long-term use is concerned. It is unsettling that we would be judged by a set of criteria that is unrelated to our product.

    The fact that a small business from Laguna has to hire full-time lobbyists and spend a week in DC defending itself is what is truly absurd. That is no boondoggle. That is the cost of protecting both mine and my partners’ investments and the businesses of hundreds of thousands of our distributors in North America. The insanity of that necessity is what I was attempting to describe.

    Sometimes outlandish satire is lost on those that have lost their own inner schoolboy. If the FDA is your answer to life’s problems, you’ve probably already failed. Good luck Mr. Evans…and good night.


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