Obsessing over taste: how ORS should taste
Hydrant exists because other effective hydration products, like ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) and Pediatric drinks, taste pretty awful. They often contain diet sweeteners, too much sugar and have a syrupy texture.
If Hydrant tasted bad, even with the other improvements we’ve added it would not be a great product. So we doubled down on flavor in a big way starting with a poll of our target market on our first flavor:
Lemon & Lime is pretty iconic for electrolyte drinks, so not surprising that it’s a popular choice here.
The Challenge: Saltiness
To be functional, Hydrant needs to be packed with a high and balanced electrolyte content. In our case this means Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Zinc. None of these actually taste that good, except perhaps sodium as salt, and even that is overpowering in high quantities. So the challenge is to make Hydrant taste good yet still retain that intense hydration ability.
Most brands use sugar or other sweeteners to mask the flavor profile of electrolytes, as well as strong artificial flavors. We’ve decided to strike out on a new path, using less sugar and natural flavors only.
Our goal is a subtle flavor profile that is just as good to sip at your desk as to chug down on the go.
When it comes to things that you’re putting in your body, minimalism is a design ideal that we subscribe to. Why add colors or fillers if they don’t have a function or affect the taste?
We knew the functional profile we wanted for Hydrant early on, and we knew we wanted a low sugar content without any diet sweeteners added. Getting the perfect flavor profile is a subtle nuanced process though, so blind taste testing is an important step. We’ve tested Hydrant on over 100 different people now, but we want to highlight our secret weapon, the Pro’s:
The team at King, New York have been a runaway success this year with their simple, delicious food. They already know the benefits of good hydration on the line. With discerning palates, they were the perfect recurring taste panel.
Like most good things, Hydrant has been through a lot of versions. Over 30 in fact, in order to get to that perfect flavor balance.
A taste test at the flavor lab.
Our early versions were… well, not great. Here are some quotes from blind taste testers who did not know that they were trying Hydrant V4:
“Tastes like oven cleaner”
“This reminds me of seawater"
But we kept going, and eventually settled on our current version/flavor profile which we’re really happy with. Here are some quotes from our (blind) taste testers:
Bonus pic: Mixing and tasting an early sample of Hydrant at the office (read our full story here).
Are you concerned about your own hydration levels? Take the quiz below to find the best Hydrant for your hydration routine.