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The Panera Bread at the University of Maryland construction
The Panera Bread at the University of Maryland construction
Original photo by Abigail Roedersheimer
Wellness > Health

Charged Lemonades come to UMD in May – What students think and how to consume them safely

Updated Published
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Dining services recently announced in February that the long-awaited Panera Bread is expected to open in the Stamp Student Union in mid May.

Students can expect to have access to Panera Bread and its full menu. However, the Unlimited Sip Club, which allows customers to pay a monthly fee of $14.99 for unlimited access to over 20 drinks (including Charged Lemonades, a caffeinated lemonade) will not operate on UMD’s campus due to the use of a different register system.

“I believe Panera is aware of [the issues with Charged Lemonades] and has changed their talking points on it,” said Dan Robertson, assistant director of Stamp Union Retail Operations. 

The Charged Lemonade from Panera Bread made headlines for the deaths of two customers with underlying conditions who had consumed the drink shortly before their deaths. The company faced lawsuits from the victim’s families, and in January had a third lawsuit filed against them by a customer claiming that the drink caused permanent heart health issues.

A large (30-ounce) lemonade with ice contains about 236 milligrams of caffeine and a regular (20-ounce) lemonade with ice contains 157 milligrams. The drink comes in two flavor varieties: strawberry lemon mint and mango yuzu citrus. In addition, the restaurant offers a “Blood Orange Charged Splash” as a zero-sugar and lemonade-free option. The splash has 178 milligrams for a regular and 302 milligrams for a large. 

Panera Bread had previously listed the lemonades as having higher amounts of caffeine, with a regular sitting at 260 milligrams and a large at 390 milligrams.

For comparison, one eight-ounce cup of coffee has 95 milligrams, a 12-ounce Celsius energy drink has 200 milligrams and a 12-ounce Red Bull has 80 milligrams. 

What makes the Charged Lemonades unique from other energy drinks is the ability to have more than one serving with a purchase because of Panera’s free refills. 

But students seem to be wary of the caffeine content.

“My mom told me someone died from it so that was concerning,” Jonah Rogers, a sophomore art major said.

Rogers said she was excited for the Panera Bread to open, but does not see herself ordering a Charged Lemonade.

“I don’t really drink caffeine,” Dylan Saruvin, a senior psychology and criminology major said. “It’s a bit strange that they offer such a high caffeine content, but I think as long as they warn people about it, it’s fine.”

On its website and at physical locations, Panera Bread displays labels about the caffeine content. The fast food restaurant has placed the Charged Lemonade drink station behind the counter, so patrons must ask for a refill.

“For most students, the general recommended maximum level of caffeine consumption is 400 milligrams a day, for an adult, according to the FDA,” Margaret Slavin, an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s Department of Food and Nutrition Science, said.

Slavin encouraged students to keep track of their caffeine consumption throughout the day. 

“Keep somewhere in the back of your mind that you’re not consuming a couple cups of coffee, some caffeinated soda from the soda fountain and an energy drink, because that would put you over [400 milligrams].”

It’s important to note that consumers with underlying health conditions should consult their doctor.

“If someone has a pre-existing health condition, especially a heart condition, and their doctor has recommended that they stay away from caffeine, that changes the recommendations,” Slavin said. 

If a consumer is concerned about potentially having a condition that would be affected by caffeine intake, they can schedule an appointment with their doctor.

Abigail Roedersheimer is from Laguna Beach, California and is in her freshman year at the University of Maryland College Park. She is majoring in Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and hopes to double major in Public Policy. During her senior year of high school, she was the News Editor for her school paper, The Brush and Palette and also interned for her school district's director of communications, where she assisted in producing content and writing press releases. She also attended the Boston University Summer Journalism Program in 2022. Outside of school, Abigail enjoys horseback riding, baking, and watching movies. She looks forward to her future with HerCampus Maryland.