Recovery drink makers hope to hear ‘More Cowbell’ as their product hits gyms – Reuters

ROCHESTER – Does being tired and thirsty after a hard workout mean anything to you?

A Med City company thinks it has a serious solution with a funny name, and it comes in a shiny purple box. As it should be, the idea was born in a gym.

Although the U.S. market is flooded with energy drinks, juices, fancy waters, sports drinks, sodas and more, three entrepreneurial Rochester men couldn’t find a drink of healthy recovery drink after a long workout at a Crossfit gym or anywhere else.

John Pacchetti and Nolan Fox were brainstorming possible business ideas while training. Josh Grenell, the owner of Crossfit Progression, regularly checked in with his two friends to see if they were cooking up something he’d like to be a part of.

“There were some things that didn’t interest me. And then they talked about a recovery drink. I was very interested in this, due to the lack of suitable recovery drinks on the market. I drink a lot of it every day, but I really didn’t know what I was drinking,” Grenell said.

This desire for a drink that functionally helps exhausted muscles recover and tastes really good drove Grenell, Pacchetti and Fox to create their own.

“We were looking for a product that could be effective and be a product that we would personally use. I’m always interested in businesses that I can ethically and transparently support because they’re part of my daily life in some way,” said Crossfit enthusiast Pacchetti. In addition to owning the Bitter & Pour bar in downtown Rochester, he is also co-owner of Home Place Senior Care in Southeast Minnesota.

The trio also wanted to have enough active ingredients to really help athletes’ bodies recover.

Fox, who is an athletics coach at John Marshall High School and coaches the school’s Crossfit club, was concerned about the “energy” drinks and sports drinks his young athletes were consuming.

“Kids are passionate about Bang and Monster and Gatorade. It’s just high sugar and tons of caffeine,” he said. “And recovery drinks that don’t have bad stuff often don’t have enough good ingredients to be effective, but you don’t know that because they hide behind ‘a proprietary blend’ and don’t list the amounts of ingredients on the label.”

In 2019, they began developing this sports drink with over five times the active ingredients of competitors with a focus on serious results. This meant being transparent about the ingredients.

Cowbell includes 5,000 milligrams of BCAAs – branched chain amino acids – to increase muscle growth and decrease muscle breakdown, omega-3s for muscle recovery and a turmeric/glucosamine blend to reduce inflammation and help prevent breakdown cartilage in the joints. Its formula also contains 1,000 milligrams of BetaTOR HMB, which the makers of Cowbell claim clinical studies have shown to increase strength and aid recovery. It also contains 50 milligrams of caffeine from green tea extract.

A can of Cowbell contains 50 calories, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. It is pasteurized, which gives it a slight carbonation.

They knew what they wanted in the box, but it took a while to figure out the name on the box. Leaning on the scientific aspect, they experimented with names of scientific formulas, but it did not seem right to them.

“Eventually we started to pivot. We wanted to come up with a fun name for a serious product, and Cowbell was the winner,” Pacchetti said. “People celebrate a lot of endurance races, triathlons, even Formula 1 races by ringing a bell. So it sort of matches that and it’s just kind of cool.

Plus, it’s also reminiscent of the classic Saturday Night Live skit from 2000, where Christopher Walken yells at Blue Öyster Cult to use “more bell” while recording “The Reaper.”

After spending a year making taste adjustments, they were ready to begin production of Cowbell. However, the pandemic hit before they could flip the switch.

Despite the delay, there is now a warehouse full of purple cans from Cowbell in northwest Rochester. Cans of lightly carbonated Cowbell officially hit the market in early June.

Stock Cowbell on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, at the Cowbell Warehouse in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

However, you won’t find it on store shelves. The Cowbell team goes directly to where the athletes are – the gymnasiums.

“We don’t really have a plan to enter the retail market. You’ll probably never find Cowbell in Target or Hy-vee because we’re a premium recovery drink,” Pacchetti said. “Also, we don’t want to cannibalize the revenue of gym owners. We want to make them happy.

Cowbell sells directly to gyms and workout studios, which in turn sell to their members. Before or after a workout, a member might pay $3 to $4 for a can of Cowbell and pop it out of a cooler at the gym. The start-up works with local and regional Crossfit gyms to sponsor competitions and events to showcase their product to attendees.

Now, Pacchetti, Fox and Grenell hope the calls for “More Cowbell” will be heard in more and more gyms across the Midwest and eventually the country.

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