New Health Drinks or Old-Style Snake-Oil Elixirs?

You may have seen them at your local sandwich shop or supermarket: exotic-looking, oversize bottles and sleek cans with names like SoBe Wisdom, Fresh Samantha's Super Juice and Mystic Potions. Their labels are meant to suggest either New Age healing powers or the latest in scientific nutrition, and they carry prices to match: about $2 for 14 ounces of SoBe's latest line.

These so-called functional beverages, or "nutraceutical" drinks, represent a tiny slice of the $20 billion U.S. beverage market--but the one that's growing fastest. Sales are expected to reach $100 million this year, up from just $20 million in 1997....

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