A South Dakota company is infusing sunflower seeds with caffeine and
other boosters commonly found in energy drinks.
"A lot of people
chew sunflower seeds to stay awake and give them energy, and we just
thought we'd combine the two of them," said Tim Walter, president of
Carpenter-based Dakota Valley Products Inc.
The product, Sumseeds, has been in development for about a year.
The seeds are grown in North Dakota and Kansas and shipped to the
company's Willow Lake plant, where caffeine, taurine, lysine and
ginseng are added.
The 3.5-ounce bags sell for $1.99, about twice the price of
normal sunflower seeds. The company is working to get them into
Sumseeds are being sold at a Sioux Falls drug store chain and
should soon begin appearing on shelves in Minneapolis and the
Southeast. A major convenience store chain is testing the snack in
10 of its stores, and Dakota Valley Products also is getting
international interest from as far away as New Zealand, Walter said.
John Sandbakken, international marketing director for the
National Sunflower Association, said that while he hasn't yet tried
Sumseeds, any new product is good for the industry.
"Any way that there's more products on the market, obviously
that's a plus for us and for farmers," Sandbakken said.
Eighteen- to 30-year-old males make up the largest market for
in-shell sunflower seeds, and many of them chew and spit while
playing outdoor activities or watching television, he said. They're
also a favorite of truckers, who eat them during long trips.
Sunflower seeds have long been touted as a healthy snack that's
high in protein and fiber and contains vitamins and minerals. And
while energy drinks pack in the sugar, a bag of Sumseeds contains
just 5 grams to give snackers a longer-lasting boost in lieu of a
high carbohydrate rush, Walter said.
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