A successful local sports drink has its developer looking for other ways to innovate for athletes

Mass market sports drinks are as commonplace as bottled water. But what if you could buy a healthier, boutique version that was also produced locally?

That was the thinking behind Hydra-Guard Recharge, a unique sports drink created and manufactured in Baton Rouge by entrepreneur Joseph Tucker. The product hit the market late last year and is now available in about 300 stores across Louisiana and parts of the Gulf Coast. Tucker says he expects that number to double soon, as he negotiates additional distribution agreements.

This month, the company is also rolling out a no-calorie, no-sugar version in four new flavors: kiwi, strawberry, watermelon and mango.

An avid runner and sports buff, Tucker developed Recharge as a companion sports drink to another of his inventions, the Hydra-Guard hydrating mouth guard. To develop the drink, Tucker worked with food scientists at the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator. His goal was to create a higher quality, healthier version of commonly consumed sports drinks.

“I would drink those as an athlete growing up, and I always felt like they made me thirstier,” Tuckers says.

The AgCenter team helped Tucker create a sports drink with four times the amount of electrolytes as other varieties. Electrolytes are naturally bitter in flavor, but Tucker was able to neutralize the taste by incorporating an existing AgCenter product called Bitter Blocker. Food scientists also helped Tucker use all-natural ingredients to flavor, color and sweeten his four original flavors: grape, fruit punch, lemon lime and orange. In addition to offering more electrolytes, Recharge has less sugar, sodium and calories than leading brands.

“What’s different about us is that we’re able to give athletes more of what they need and less of what they don’t,” Tucker says. “Our goal is not to be the biggest sports drink, but to develop the most innovative products in the industry.”

Tucker’s volume has exceeded production at the Food Incubator, but he’s still manufacturing the product in Baton Rouge. He’s relied heavily on word-of-mouth advertising, as well as athlete testimonials, social media and sponsorships at road races and other regional athletic events.

Next up for Hydra-Guard is a new alkaline water with more electrolytes and nutrients than any other alkaline water on the market, he says. The product is currently in the research and development phase.

Tucker says sales of Recharge have been good, and that he anticipates further growth ahead.

“One thing that’s for sure in Louisiana,” he says, “is that we love to buy local.” drinkhydraguard.com

This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.