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Consumer Trends

Feeling Jittery

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Wired Waffles. Cracker Jack’d Power Bites. Jolt Gum. Perky Jerky.

No, you haven’t stumbled upon a vintage lot of “Wacky Package” trading cards; these relatively new products are made with varying amounts of caffeine and -- in some cases -- are considered to be more potent than several cups of coffee.

Energy-boosting foods racked up more than $1.6 billion in domestic retail sales last year -- an increase of almost 50 percent from five years ago, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.

Some say it’s about catering to consumers’ increasingly hectic lifestyles. Amped-up products are reported to be popular with sleep-deprived college students, long-haul truck drivers and athletes looking for a boost.

But caffeine junkies may be in for withdrawal; the FDA recently asked food makers to put the brakes on introducing additional products. The agency is reported to be concerned about the health effects of this caffeine-laced food craze, and particularly its effect on children.

What steps the FDA might take are unclear -- though most anticipate more detailed labeling requirements at the very least.