Caffeine has long been a mainstay of energy drinks, but a new technique from a Colorado-based energy see the emergence of a new category of baked energy foods.
Dr Robert Bohannon hit on the idea of incorporating caffeine into his morning donut or bagel several years ago, so he would not need to drink a cup off coffee to kick start his day.
He told NutraIngredients-USA.com that early experiments yielded a bad-tasting product, but in collaboration with food industry experts he eventually came up with a patent-pending microencapsulation process that allows the inclusion of very small caffeine particles.
This, in his view, could pose a challenge to the energy drinks market in the future. "It is where we see it going," he said.
Dr Bohannon was unable to reveal details of the process at this time, but he said that technical challenges involved pinpointing the right size of particle so as to avoid a gritty texture and identifying an acceptable encapsulation material.
He has trademarked the names Buzz Donuts and Buzzed Bagels, and says he has approached major food chains such as Krispy Kreme, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts with the idea. Amongst others, he expects the format may be popular with college students cramming for exams, who can combine a sugar and caffeine hit in one.
Moreover, the patent he has filed does not restrict the technology to caffeine, but covers any ingredient that cannot be easily incorporated into products without impairing taste - such as vitamins and minerals.
Consumers may not be too receptive to receiving their vitamins and minerals from a product that is usually seen as loaded with sugar and fat. But Dr Bohannon said that there is scope for "a health food version with whole wheat".
"It is a product that a million people in America - and all round the world - would enjoy," he said.
As for whether bakery products could lead people to consumer too much caffeine or other nutrients, Dr Bohannon said: "That was one of the concerns, but we can control how much of an ingredient goes into each product."
"You can overdose on anything, but 300 donuts is not going to happen. Six or eight is likely to be the maximum".
The final dose would be down to the marketer, but he anticipates a maximum of 50 to 100mg of caffeine per serving.
A typical cup of coffee contains 50mg of caffeine, and caffeine capsules between 100 and 200mg each.