Panera's Charged Lemonades Are Finally Getting The Boot

Panera's highly caffeinated Charged Lemonades have been a source of controversy for the cafe and sandwich chain. Two wrongful death lawsuits were filed in 2023 after two customers died after drinking the lemonades, and a third lawsuit alleged that the same drink "caused permanent cardiac injuries" to another customer, who was "otherwise healthy and had no underlying medical condition."

Panera's initial response last year was to change the labeling on the drinks to display a warning about their caffeine content, and the company eventually ended up moving the beverage dispenser behind the employee counter, where customers then had to request refills in person.

A rumor on Reddit began circulating yesterday that the Charged Lemonades would soon be dropped from Panera's beverage menu — and it turns out that this was no rumor: Panera is actually getting rid of the drinks altogether.

When is Panera getting rid of its Charged Lemonades?

Bloomberg first reported the news, confirming the Reddit rumor, and says that the drinks will be phased out over the next two weeks. A statement given to The Takeout by Panera doesn't directly confirm this but does indicate that the Charged Lemonades will be replaced with new beverages and that the company will be "focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire – ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors, to low sugar and low-caffeine options."

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Notice the deliberate inclusion of the term "low-caffeine." The new lineup will include drinks like Blueberry Lavender Lemonade, Pomegranate Hibiscus Tea, Citrus Punch, and Tropical Green Smoothie.

The beverage shakeup comes shortly after Panera revamped its menu in April by removing some items, adding nine new ones, and updating the recipes for 12 others. An increase in portion sizes for some items was also part of the change.

We're a little shocked it's taken so long for the Charged Lemonades to be discontinued, because a fourth health-related incident regarding the drinks was reported only a few days ago by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. On March 9 of this year, a teenager went into cardiac arrest at a movie theater after drinking a Charged Lemonade and was eventually intubated during his treatment. He is recovering but has a defibrillator implanted in his chest in case of any further cardiac issues.

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I may be no public relations or business expert, but these drinks seem like they were more trouble than they were worth, especially in terms of the brand's reputation. They must have been popular with customers, however, because in the Reddit thread I mentioned earlier, many users woefully lamented their demise and said they'd be canceling their monthly unlimited drink subscription (called Unlimited Sip Club) because of it. I don't know about you, but I'd generally feel better if people could enjoy their drinks safely without having to end up in the hospital, but I guess it only takes three lawsuits and one more hospitalization for a corporation to seriously consider public safety.

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