The Untold Truth Of Sun Chaser

Wine on your wedding anniversary. Brews on the beach. A toast to a new job promotion. Whatever the occasion, alcohol plays an important part in any memory-making experience, on top of being a fun way to kick back and relax with the ones we love. It's difficult to imagine pool parties or backyard barbecues without something boozy to add to the fun. And yet, the haze of intoxication that feels so thrilling comes at a price when you drink too much, too often. At best, you sleep off a hangover and weather a throbbing headache. But the worst can come in the form of long-term ailments like heart disease and liver dysfunction, per the CDC

Whether cutting it out for health reasons or choosing to indulge less, a lineup of non-alcoholic beverages has hit the market as an appealing solution. One that's garnered quite a bit of buzz is Sun Chaser. Spearheaded in California's Bay Area just before the pandemic, the drink touts a "refreshing, light, relaxing buzz" without any of the aforementioned side effects. Cans sport a sleek, cheerful label that wouldn't look out of place in the beer cooler. If it's your first time hearing of the brand, that's because it's just getting started. Let's say cheers and explore the untold truth of Sun Chaser. 

Sun Chaser was founded by women

Did you know only 40% of small businesses in America are run by women? Given that women only make up about half the country, and for that matter, the globe, it's nevertheless a shocking statistic to read (via Fundera). In this regard, Sun Chaser proves that the tides are turning for female entrepreneurs wanting to make a splash in the beverage market. The brand was launched by two young women from the San Francisco Bay Area, Nellie Coffy and Jocelyn Stradiotto. Both women have overseen the operation from the beginning, and as Stradiotto told the podcast, The Next Big Thing, the duo left no stone unturned in getting the business on its feet. They also embrace each other's individual skills and strengths. For example, Coffy takes the reigns on marketing and customer service, while Stradiotto handles production and accounting. 

It's difficult enough being a woman in any industry, let alone the male-dominated field of business. Glamour notes that much of the booze-free market Sun Chaser belongs to is outmatched by the men in charge. Yet the duo hopes to set an example for other creative women dipping their toes into the world of ideas and vision. "I want to show girls you don't have to climb the ladder but build your own," Coffy told Phi Beta Kappa's publication The Key Reporter. Sun Chaser isn't the first female-fronted brand by any means, and thankfully, it certainly won't be the last. 

The founders met while working at Google

In the tech world, movers and shakers know there's only one place to go to bring your vision to life: Silicon Valley. With Apple and Facebook residing there, the region is great for self-starters hoping to strike gold with the next great idea. As a start-up itself, Sun Chaser is no exception. Before their great idea, Coffy and Stradiotto worked at Google, where the two crossed paths in the company's sales department (via The Key Reporter). 

As Coffy recalled on The Next Big Thing podcast, she connected with her future co-founder during an off-site work event involving employees either selling or purchasing companies, and Stradiotto emerged victorious with the highest-selling venture. Although it was a hypothetical activity, the impression obviously stuck because the two quickly became friendsand eventually business partners.

"We were very like-minded in how we felt about how our sales roles could transition into business building," Coffy told New Canaan Country School. She added that sales are an important element of successfully launching a business and that her experience in sales at a global tech giant was an asset.

"We were ideating together for some time while still working together at Google," Coffy added.

With enough brainstorming sessions under their belts, the pair decided to leave Google in 2019 and pursue Sun Chaser full-time.

The buzz is caused by 3 key ingredients

We've established that Sun Chaser replicates the hazy, feel-good vibes of drinking without a single drop of alcohol. But how exactly is this done? It's all about the chemicals, baby. Sun Chaser incorporates nootropics, which WebMD defines as "any natural or synthetic substance" engineered to improve cognition and enhance perception. Their effects are similar to those of booze. Sun Chaser advertises three compounds in each can: L-theanine, an amino acid that curbs anxiety levels according to Healthline; gamma-aminobutyric acid, which Healthline classifies as a neurotransmitter that inspires peaceful feelings; and 5-hydroxytryptophan, a protein believed to increase serotonin which improves mood, reports WebMD. Together, they form the cocktail (no pun intended) that gives Sun Chaser's signature buzz-without-the booze. 

As Sun Chaser's frequently asked questions page reveals, the sensation is described as "a delightful head tingle" that lasts no more than an hour from the moment one drinks it. Plus, the cans boast the compound's benefits, such as stress relief and mood-lifting. Opinions on nootropics differ. As WebMD notes, the substance acts as a placebo, meaning the person's knowledge of its effects can encourage feeling those effects. This isn't to say that nootropics don't have any positive effects. Rather, the evidence that's been collected thus far cannot reliably confirm any universal response to them. 

It's offered in liquid and packet form

Sun Chaser is a beverage brand first and foremost, but enjoying its product doesn't stop at the aluminum orange can. The brand offers multiple ways to ride the wave of booze-free bliss in either liquid form or packet form, which customers can purchase on its website. Hibiscus Sunrise, Sun Chaser's signature flavor, comes in 12-ounce cans. Buzz Blends, which come in the flavor Bright Citrus, are available in sets of 6, 12, 24, and 36 cans with a net weight of 0.18 ounces per packet. To drink it, customers pour a glass of seltzer and stir the powder in until fully mixed. It immediately transforms the carbonated liquid into something exciting to sip on a Friday afternoon. 

Of course, there are a few differences between the two. Among them are the calorie count (25 per can, 5 per packet) and the amount of sugar (4 grams in the can, zero in the packet). Besides those exceptions, it's pretty much the same thing. It just depends on your preference. The fact that Sun Chaser already provides multiple options is a good sign of things to come for the fledgling brand. 

Sun Chaser is light on calories

No one reading this needs to be told that when it comes to high-calorie fare, booze can be quite sneaky. According to Medline Plus, the average beer, depending on its alcohol levels, contains roughly 100 to 150 calories, with some as high as 350. That's more than a Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe from Burger King (per Fast Food Nutrition). By contrast, Sun Chaser is light on the calories and virtually everything else. 

A single can of the stuff features 25 calories and 4 grams of sugar, in addition to being vegan and gluten-free (via Sun Chaser). On top of that, it's also free of caffeine, so no late-night jitters will occur if you drink one later in the evening. Clearly, there are perks to drinking Sun Chaser that exist beyond calorie-counting. Those tracking their intake will relish having an option that's flavorful without packing on extra calories. Heck, some reviewers find it even better than the beverage it's mimicking. One reviewer wrote that they would rather reach for a Sun Chaser than a beer any time, while another praised its delicious taste, saying it was like drinking a can of their favorite soda (via Sun Chaser).

It's also pretty pricey

Anyone who's gone bar-hopping knows the tab quickly adds up with the purchase of each drink. A pitcher here, a couple of glasses there, and suddenly you're looking at your bank account in horror at the end of a long, boozed-out night. Even as a sober substitute for drinking, Sun Chaser brandishes a premium price tag that easily rivals top-shelf picks at the liquor store. Purchasing an 8-pack of Hibiscus Sunrise, for example, will set you back about $50, and that's before the shipping costs are taken into account (per Sun Chaser). One reviewer admitted that the price of Sun Chaser could make it difficult to buy more of her beloved beverage. 

Now, spending half of a Benjamin on fizzy water might sound like a lot to the average Joe, but a glance at its frequently asked questions page gives more detail on why. Being a small business, Sun Chaser produces its beverage in tiny quantities. From paying the manufacturers to acquiring the ingredients, this takes time and labor to accomplish, which translates to spending more money. Sun Chaser's price, then, reflects the care that goes into its production. Those turned off by the cost who are otherwise curious to try it can opt for the Sunrise Sampler for only $19.99.

It isn't regulated by the FDA

From the food we eat to the medications we take, so many things are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Well, almost everything. Dietary supplements like the ones found in Sun Chaser are one of the few omissions under the agency. According to federal law, it's on the manufacturers, not the FDA, to be responsible for making sure the substances are safe for public consumption. It's also worth pointing out that supplements are classified as food items, not a drug, since their use isn't made for medicinal purposes (per FDA). 

For legal reasons, of course, Sun Chaser remains quite transparent about the contents of its offerings. As its website confirms, the beverage isn't designed "to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease," nor are claims on its purported benefits backed up by clinical evidence, at least by official standards. In that regard, the company is not making promises that it can't deliver on. Regardless, the company pledges to make necessary improvements as research reveals more about ingredients used in non-alcoholic substitutes. Until then, stick to conventional wisdom by talking to a doctor first, as the FDA recommends, before popping open a can for yourself. 

Moderation is a brand philosophy

Knowing that Sun Chaser is alcohol-free, it may be tempting to knock back a few cans at the park or pool party without thinking twice. Slow down there, partner. Even though you can't get drunk with it, the company still wants you to take it nice and easy by consuming only the recommended amount. Its website suggests starting with a single can before drinking a second in order to gauge your response to it and only having two in a day at most (per Sun Chaser). 

Moderation is appealing for good reason. It's an attractive middle ground where indulgences can be savored without the effects of overindulgence. But Sun Chaser doesn't just treat it as effective marketing. It's also a brand philosophy. Part of why Sun Chaser was launched was to promote healthier attitudes towards social drinking, especially when there's pressure to sip more than you can swallow. According to Nellie Coffy, overconsumption makes it hard to "feel good always," which is the company's motto. She said that the people at Sunchaser want to ensure that people drinking their product are honoring their health. 

You can only buy it online

Wondering where you can score some Sun Chaser for your next backyard bash? Well, brick-and-mortar stores won't be one of those places, at least for now. Sun Chaser is only available on the company website. As a direct-to-consumer brand, Sun Chaser only sells its beverage from its own warehouses, so you're not going to find it on the shelves of Whole Foods or Trader Joe's when you're seeking a fizzy booze-free beverage. You will, however, be able to have it delivered to your door. Shipping is available nationwide (via Sun Chaser).

At the moment, Sun Chaser's reach is quite limited, which is to be expected for a start-up business. But as the drink gains momentum, its founders have their sites set on bigger goals for the business. Jocelyn Stradiotto revealed some future goals to The Next Big Thing podcast, among them stocking Sun Chaser in grocery stores, workplaces, and music festivals.

"We would love for this to be a global product," she said (per YouTube). With any luck, the whole world will be able to experience it soon.