And more importantly, because the folk remedy seems to work. In
a Brigham Young University study, subjects experienced relief
within 85 seconds of ingestion (which, interestingly, is too soon
for the water and salts to leave the stomach, leading scientists to
wonder if it's a neurological effect).
Pickle Juice Sport founder Brandon Brooks did not know this when
he started the company back in 2000. In fact, it wasn't even called
Pickle Juice Sport at the time. A former store director for
Kroger's at the
time, he saw the budding success of pomegranate juice and carrot
juice, he figured he'd try his hand at Golden Pickle Juice.
After struggling along in the novelty arena for a while, Mr.
Brooks started getting orders from athletic trainers around the
country. After a rebranding and packaging redesign in 2006, and a
marketing push featuring Dallas Cowboys star Jason Whitten, Pickle
Juice Sport can be found in 23 states at HEB, Academy Sporting
Goods, Super 1 Foods and Brookshire's (cramp-prone consumers not in
the South can go to picklepower.com). But it wasn't until recently
that the company has become profitable, said Mr. Brooks. And it's
"been discontinued more times than it's been accepted."
Lately, he's dialed back major marketing efforts in favor of
event partnerships. His model is more Clif Bar than Gatorade --
think niche enthusiasts like triathletes.
In fact, with 2010 sales up 102% from 2009 and 2011 sales 54%
higher than 2010 sales, now Mr. Brooks is not taking on any more
large-scale retail customers. Just chalk it up to one of the
challenges of running a company with fewer than 10 staffers and
based on just-in-time inventory (he gets all the juice supplies
from a local pickle factory).
The other challenge? Taste. The castoff from dill pickles isn't
everyone's cup of cramp-reliever, of course. As Mr. Brooks says,
"Nothing on the package tastes good." But he's working on that . In
2012 comes the launch of Pickle Juice Sport Plus (antioxidants and
raw pomegranate extract). "A sweeter version," he said -- or, put
another way, a little sugar to help the medicine go down.