Goodbye, Panera ‘Charged Lemonade’

After months of warnings and several lawsuits, health-adjacent fast-casual eatery Panera is finally discontinuing its line of Charged Lemonade drinks. The news comes as the chain has come under heavy criticism for the amount of caffeine in the drinks, which will be removed from the menu.

In a statement shared with Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for Panera said the move is part of an ongoing menu transformation. “We listened to more than 30,000 guests about what they wanted from Panera, and are focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire – ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors, to low sugar and low-caffeine options,” the statement reads. The spokesperson declined to comment on whether the drink’s removal was related to the ongoing controversy.

Consumer criticism about the drink hasn’t revolved around the lemonade itself but rather Panera’s marketing and labeling. The Charged Lemonade has 390 milligrams of caffeine, close to the amount of caffeine in three Red Bulls, but previous language on Panera’s website and in-store container stickers compared it to the same caffeine as a cup of their dark roast coffee. According to the Panera website, a dark roast coffee can range from 161 to 268 milligrams depending on size. In October 2023, Panera added additional warning labels to its Charged Lemonade containers, warning customers to “Use in moderation. Not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.”

Three lawsuits have been filed against Panera revolving around their Charged Lemonade and its presentation in store. On Sept. 10, 2022, 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Sarah Katz died after drinking a Panera Charged Lemonade. According to a lawsuit filed by her parents, Michael and Jill Katz, Sarah had a heart condition that caused arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythms and always avoided energy drinks. The suit claims Sarah only had the lemonade because she was “reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade and/or electrolyte sports drink containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for her to drink,” placing heavy emphasis on Panera’s lack of warnings about its caffeine contents. In Dec. 2023, the family of 46-year-old Dennis Brown filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Panera. Brown went into cardiac arrest after drinking “three servings” of the Charged Lemonade and died. In the cases of both deaths, a spokesperson for Panera expressed sympathies but called the lawsuits “without merit.” A third suit was filed in January after a 28-year-old Rhode Island woman claimed the drink gave her “permanent cardiac injuries.” Panera did not comment on the lawsuit.

Elizabeth Crawford, a partner at Kline & Specter, the law practice involved in all three legal actions, tells Rolling Stone Tuesday the group “strongly support[s]” the decision to get rid of the Charged Lemonade. “We filed these lawsuits not only to obtain justice for our clients and their families, but to inform the public about Panera’s dangerous energy drink,” Crawford says. “While Panera’s post-suit disclosures were a step in the right direction, we strongly support Panera’s most recent decision to remove Charged Lemonade from its menu entirely; a decision we know will save lives. Though Panera’s decision to pull this product will not revive Sarah Katz or Dennis Brown, nor will it return Lauren Skerritt to her previous way of life— it will help prevent future tragedies.”

Online, personal reviews about the Lemonade emphasize its caffeine content. On TikTok, the top 45 videos using the Charged Lemonade hashtag contain warnings from people who had the drink and experienced trouble sleeping, rapid heartbeats, and shaky hands. “This is not an ad, this is a warning,” said one user’s video. “Paying $4 for a Panera lemonade with 390 mg of caffeine to go into V-tach while I’m studying instead of taking Adderall,” another user captioned their TikTok. On TikTok and the r/panera subreddit, the drink has become nicknamed the “Panera death lemonade.” (Panera did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment on the nickname.)


While the drink will no longer be available, Panera has not confirmed the Charged Lemonade’s last day in stores.

2:42 Story has been updated to include a statement from Kline & Spector