Published on July 15th, 2013 | by Andrea Bertoli


Is Drink Iconic a Healthy Beverage? (Absolutely NOT!)

The lucky bloggers here at Important Media often receive offers from companies to review their products, and usually we are happy to oblige (Hello, free acai from Sambazon!). But every once in awhile we receive an offer that is just not to our liking, or not aligned with our values. One such offer came through recently, and I was just so infuriated by the product that I had to write about it here and share this will everyone.

Drink Iconic presents itself as a healthy meal replacement beverage (meal replacement isn’t all that healthy in the first place). Their website proudly states that, “In our quest to find the perfect drink for our active lifestyles, we assembled a team of nutritionists that helped us design this uniquely simple concoction we call ICONIC.” Unique, perhaps, but simple– absolutely not. Simple would be homemade herbal tea, blended juice, or simply water. Drink Iconic is not simple at all; their product is loaded with what Michael Pollan would call ‘food-like substances-” ingredients that are technically derived from foods but have been so denatured and processed that often our body does not digest them well, which can lead to allergies, indigestion and more.

Check out the list of ingredients in their chocolate truffle flavor (ingredients for other flavors are currently unavailable):

Ingredients: Water, Milk Protein Isolate, Organic Blue Agave, Inulin, Vegetable Glycerin, Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Cellulose Gel, Sunflower Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan Gum, Xanthan Gum, Stevia and Monk Fruit, Iconic Nutrient Blend (Magnesium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Phosphate, Green Tea Extract, Tyrosine, Choline Bitartrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cholecalciferol, and Cyanocobalamin).

EVERY. SINGLE. INGREDIENT is processed. All of them! There is not a single whole food in this drink. This makes me super mad for many, many reasons… some of which I’ve detailed below. The following is the actual email I sent to the Drink Iconic PR person; I never did receive a response.

The Important Media team  just received your submission for your beverage. I am the Editor for Vibrant Wellness Journal, our website focused on health and wellness, and I am definitely NOT interested in reviewing your product. And in case you are wondering, here’s why:
  • Drink Iconic is the opposite of a health food! Combining oils, isolated milk proteins and chocolate is not good for our bodies. Our bodies respond best to foods that are whole and unprocessed; isolated milk or soy makes digestion difficult and is tangentially linked to increased food allergies.
  • There is nothing ‘natural’ about it! Where in nature can you find a combination of carrageenan, xanthan gum and lecithin? These are heavily processed ‘food’ items that contribute only to mouthfeel and texture, there is nothing wholesome about them (in fact, most are considered health offenders)
  • This is not a meal replacement: Just because a product offers vitamins and minerals doesn’t mean that it can adequately fuel our bodies the way that real foods can.
  • Foods like this are simply adding to the confusion about what constitutes healthy and natural in our convoluted food industry. Rather than offering a true solution, your product is simply adding to the issues that debilitate our population– lack of nutrient dense foods, lack of plant based foods, and overabundance of animal foods.

What do you think about products like this? What about the food industry pissed you off? Let us know in the comments!


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About the Author

A vegan chef, cookbook author, educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in Honolulu, Andrea is also the Accounts Manager for Important Media. Follow her foodie adventures at, Vibrant Wellness Journal, and Eat Drink Better. Find more from Andrea on Facebook and Instagram

  • Thank you for sharing this! I totally agree – marketing like this can be so confusing. Not everyone has time to pore over ingredients labels and analzye each thing listed, and it sucks that we can’t just trust labels to tell us what is in things.

    The thing that’s been bothering me lately about the food industry is all of the excess packaging. I’m not totally opposed to convenience foods from time to time, but all of that plastic and cardboard trash that comes along with even a simple frozen pizza hurts my heart.

  • Priti

    Completely agree. I have an “ingredient-scan” rule. I try to only purchase food that has an ingredient list I can read in 5 secs and includes “whole foods” and not chemical names. If I don’t have those ingredients in my pantry, then they cannot be in the food I purchase. Simple!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  • lyrarose

    Found this when searching for their site to buy more…I don’t know I wonder how many people actually buy it for the reasons they pimp and that you stated, or how many are like me and saw it in the protein shake section of sprouts, saw it was cheaper that some other options and is dairy free (hey not everyone has stomach’s that take heavily milky protein shakes well, and not always a case of lactose intolerance) and gave it a try. And gave it a try not as a meal replacement but as a pick me up for those of us who just CAN’T get all the calories in every day. I prefer iconic because it comes in a chocolate flavor, but their ploy and product is very similar to soylent it seems so it’s easy to compare my drinking of iconic to the many people I know who drink soylent (or even the few who mix why protein with water and just drink it as an emergency calories drink…gross…but same difference): almost no one drinks these drinks as a meal replacement, but many drink it for added calories they aren’t otherwise getting (a lot of soylent friends don’t have the time to sit down and eat a real lunch at their jobs so don’t….this is calories they wouldn’t otherwise be getting but should) in a way that’s much better than the likely fast alternative of fast food or just not eating. I know I’m a special case for my love of grab n’go protein shakes like iconic (and a few others I’ve tried) because I have a disorder that keeps me from getting solid food down a lot of the time even if I want to, so anything liquid and palatable that gets the nutrients and calories down without being loaded in sugar is good by me…and it seems a large portion of people who drink drinks like this are in similar boats.

  • Joanne Ludos

    I for one was happy to find these shakes were made with agave, monk fruit, stevia (plant based sweeteners) instead of splenda/sucralose like so many of the other protein shakes out there. We want to add extra protein but stay low carb on mornings when we’re on the go early for our shooting competitions and these shakes fit the bill for us. Not meal replacements, but supplements to us.

  • Jamie Watson

    Do you have any other whole foods based protein shake that you would recommend? Honestly this is a quick boost of protein for me to hit my macros. Not everyone has the time to mix up their own shakes and these are great in a pinch. The company is transparent and doing their best to use organic ingredients and I think this review is fairly harsh. You mention drinking herbal tea, juice or water. Unfortunately these drinks don’t have any protein in them which is the point of drinking this beverage so drinking these alternatives doesn’t achieve any of my goals. Getting enough protein is a common struggle for many people. Perhaps this drink isn’t 100% natural but I think they rise above the rest in terms of drinks of its kind. Next time perhaps you should consider offering alternatives instead of simply tearing the drink down. Just my opinion.

    • hi Jamie, you can get Kate’s Farms or Orgain for ready-made options, and if you make your own I really like Vega protein powders or Amazing Meals. These are whole-foods, vegan options that are also delicious!

      • jack

        how about “Whey-To-Go” whey protein powder (vanilla, sans sugar)?

      • jack

        also, they have one version containing turmeric that is great. I was told to consume turmeric due to liver concerns and am not a cook. do you know of other turmeric options out there. that seemed rather odd and I jumped at the Iconic brand because of it, then saw it had no sucralose and was sold. I’m not educated on all the processed materials like you are but any advice appreciated.

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