TASTES GREAT, LESS FILLINGAND THEN IT'S EVEN LESS FILLING!

TASTES GREAT, LESS FILLINGAND THEN IT'S EVEN LESS FILLING!

Coca-Cola and Nestlé, the joint venture partners in Beverage Partners Worldwide (BPW), are the maker and marketer of Enviga. They begin their product's national rollout this week in New York City and the new beverage should be available nationwide by January 2007.

BPW's hopes are justifiably high. On paper, Enviga-a sparkling green tea-should be the biggest thing to hit the weight-loss industry since the low-carb craze. The promise is much the same: People consume as much as they want of a certain substance and weight loss follows, with no exertion required.

How can this be? "Enviga increases calorie burning. It represents the perfect partnership of science and nature," says Dr. Rhona Applebaum, the Coca-Cola Company's chief scientist. "Enviga contains the optimum blend of green tea extracts, caffeine and naturally active plant micronutrients designed to work with your body to increase calorie burning, thus creating a negative calorie effect."

Oh, to be introducing something that produces a "negative calorie effect" into a market where, according to the latest numbers from the American Obesity Association, 64.5 percent of U.S. adults are overweight and 30.5 percent are obese. Even better, green tea is a product that comes prebranded as healthful and hip, and its flavor has already proven amenable to most U.S. palates.

Seldom do the planets align for a new product introduction as they have for this one. A further plus is that Enviga will flow through Coca-Cola's beverage distribution system, the world's largest. Unlike most niche drinks, this one will find plenty of shelf space in supermarkets and warehouse clubs from day one, not to mention foodservice beverage coolers. At retail, Enviga will be sold in individual 12-oz. cans as well as in six- and 12-can packs. There will be three flavors initially: green tea, berry and peach. The supermarket price will be $1.29 to $1.49 per can.

So should you order some Enviga for your restaurant right away? Why not? We can see some interesting spillover possibilities for pairing food specials with calorie-burning Enviga on your menu. And certainly the novelty factor will drive sales early on. But note that while Enviga speeds up a consumer's metabolism enough to burn off about one pound of weight each month, that's for "healthy subjects in the lean to normal weight range"-i.e., people whose metabolism is already revved up enough that they don't need it anyway. For everyone else, we'll see.

If you're skeptical about Enviga, you may wish to head to the other end of the nutritional spectrum to explore the merits of deep-fried Coke. It's the invention of Abel Gonzales, a Dallas computer analyst who invented this concoction and sold it at this year's Texas State Fair.

His recipe produces a batter mix made up of Coca-Cola fountain syrup, a bit of strawberry syrup and some strawberries. Gonzales forms it into small balls that are deep-fried, then placed in a serving cup. The dish is topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar, and there's a cherry on top.

Gonzales's description of his recipe is a purposefully vague, because others are trying to cash in on his invention. And there's plenty of cash involved. Gonzales ran two stands at the Texas State Fair and sold 35,000 fried Cokes at $4.50 apiece. Fair vendors elsewhere-North Carolina, Arizona-are trying out similar products.

For his part, Gonzalez is working on deep-fried Sprite and, for the calorie-conscious, fried diet Coke.

As far as the full-service possibilities go, who would have bet that fried ice cream would become a dessert staple in casual dining. Why not fried Coke?