Despite peanut butter already being so popular that it is in 94 percent of American households, Steem Peanut Butter intends to take the iconic staple even more popular by adding the caffeine of two cups of coffee to each serving.
The average American child eats 1,500 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches during his or her school years and the nation as a whole consumes enough peanut butter to make 10 billion sandwiches per year. We are nuts for the product that is full of protein and healthy fats.
But by adding 170 milligrams of caffeine to each 2 tablespoon serving, Steem Peanut Butter gives the consumer the equivalent boost of glugging two “tall” cups of Starbucks brew. Selling at $4.99 plus shipping, Steem may have just launched the hottest new consumption product of the year.
According to the company’s website, the product combines protein, electrolytes and caffeine to be “perfect not only for athletes and active people, but also for normal life.”
Steem’s co-owner Chris Pettazzoni told TODAY.com that the idea isn’t to replace people’s morning coffee, but to stand in for the second or third cup a person might need later in the day.
With Boston-based STEEM only first available in early October, the product is flying off grocery stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, and mail order purchases have made it a hit with the trendy crowd on the East and West Coasts.
But the buzz has caused some blow-back. The New York Post reported that Senator Charles Schumer has demanded a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“This may look like an ordinary jar of peanut butter, and it may cost the same as a jar of peanut butter, but the fact is, it’s much more dangerous than an ordinary jar of peanut butter,” Schumer said. He refers to Steem as a “Trojan Horse” for other caffeine-laden products that will soon find their way onto grocery store shelves and home pantries.
“If they allow it, it can spread to all kinds of other snacks, even Popsicles, candy, things that kids eat. It needs some regulation. We need the FDA to let everyone know they’re not asleep at the wheel about the high levels of caffeine being infused into our snacks,” Schumer said.
Schumer has a history of demanding caffeinated spiked products be regulated. He tried for a ban of caffeinated alcoholic drinks in 2010 in response to a New York Times story on their dangers that resulted in U.S. Food and Drug Administration taking action. He also recently called for a ban on powdered caffeine, which led the FDA to send warning letters regarding labeling to five manufacturers.
STEEM told the Quartz blog that the product is only marketed to adults, and the company has “complied with any and every obligation we were required to before putting our product out on shelves.” The company added that it welcomes FDA or any other federal oversight so that the agencies “can see that STEEM is perfectly safe when used as directed.” The company said that its product clearly provides information about serving sizes and caffeine content on the label.