A new children’s book published by the popular Manimal sports drink company has parents and safety advocates seeing Radical Red. Released to mark recent news that Manimal has become the most popular energy drink in Hawaii, the company says “Sarge’s Cub Club” is for the youngest members of Manimal’s growing family, and teaches kids how to avoid the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle. However, many parents and experts say the book glorifies reckless behavior and dangerous activities.
Fresh off of news that Manimal had reached over 80% market share in West Maui and 75% in Hawaii as a whole, the public waited with bated breath to see what the Lahaina based company would do to celebrate. Manimal has had more than a few marketing hiccups in recent years. The contamination of a sacred spring by a member of the company’s Alpha Club placed the drink maker in hot water. Numerous health concerns were raised when a man nearly died from excessive Manimal consumption, and much of the Lahaina city council still refuses to comment on the public ATV fiasco. The release of a children’s book seemed an unlikely but safe choice to many, but it wasn’t long before the controversy that seems to follow the company reared its head.
Henna Driscol was one of the first parents to file an official complaint after buying her daughter a copy of the book. “We drink a lot of Manimal in this house and I thought it was neat that a local company has grown into this huge thing, so I thought I’d get Megan a copy. It was a huge mistake! I can’t believe that someone in authority at Manimal thought it was appropriate for children,” she says
“It starts out OK. Major, the company mascot tells a group of kids about the history of Manimal and how it got started here in Lahaina. Sarge teaches the kids how cleaning and helping your parents can be fun, what to say if someone offers them drugs, that sort of thing. Then the whole thing goes off the rails. One of the kids in the book complains that she isn’t allowed to skydive like her older brother and Sarge comes up with a bunch of “kid-friendly” extreme activities that can be done at home. It talks about how free climbing a rock face is too dangerous for kids, but bookcases and tall appliances like a refrigerator are fair game. There are instructions on how to arrange the furniture to make the “gnarliest indoor parkour course on your block.” My daughter broke her arm following Sarge’s recommendations on the best household objects to use for stair surfing. There’s a whole lot more to hate in there too, but we were lucky. Megan got hurt before she got to the part about adding fire to your stunt videos. I’m not one to get behind a book burning, but in this case, I’d be the first to throw this thing on the pyre.”
Numerous other parents and concerned citizens have complained citing dozens of injuries directly tied to stunts laid out in the book. The Lahaina Medical Center’s Director Dalia Forsythe has been a vocal opponent and has advised parents to not let their children read Sarge’s Cub Club. She says, “It’s a collection of dangerous things to do for children with too much free time. I’d say it was an accident waiting to happen, but accidents have already happened over 30 times! We’ve seen bumps and bruises to broken bones and even a potentially life-threatening head injury from kids trying out some of the activities in this book. It’s terrible and Manimal should pull it from shelves immediately.”
Manimal CEO Spencer Kane says he acknowledges that some of the activities in the book may go too far, but thinks the backlash has been overblown. “To be honest I thought we were hitting this one out of the park, but I feel like a few haters and a couple of inattentive parents are making a much bigger deal out of this than they need to.”
“Look, kids get hurt all the time. It’s what kids do. Now, you take kids who embrace all life has to offer them, kids who like living their own game, not playing one on the couch, the kind of kids that drink Manimal….well they’re probably going to get a few scrapes living their best lives. That doesn’t mean that we’re responsible for everything they do.
Sure, there are probably a few suggestions in there that come too close to the line, but that’s part of the Manimal lifestyle. I hear a lot about kids falling off the top of cabinets and tumbling down stairs, but nobody is talking about the many good safety tips in Sarge’s Cub Club. Nobody mentions how Sarge tells the kids to never dive into a tub that’s half full. He tells the kids to always fill the tub to the very top before jumping in from any height. Does that sound irresponsible to you? These parents aren’t thanking us for suggesting that their kids practice jumping over cars in the garage before trying it out in the street. Maybe we should have read the book a little closer before we released it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a super big deal. I mean nobody has died or anything and there are some really good tips on how to make your home videos straight fire. I think the kids would agree that a thousand more views on social media are worth a couple of close calls.”