Working remotely has its benefits: the ability to work in your pajamas on the couch or head into a co-working spot or bustling café helps to ensure your optimal work environment. However, one woman’s decision to put her hours in at a popular bakery chain — one with free refills — had unintended consequences.
On Dec. 9, content creator Sarah Baus posted a TikTok filmed in her car that went mega-viral. In the original video, captioned “@Panera Bread this drink should come with a warning because it’s delicious and will lead to my cardiac arrest,” the Charleston, South Carolina resident explains a series of events starting with a remote work day from her local Panera that left her, well, buzzing.
“I have learned something that should be illegal, 100% should be illegal and it has to do with this drink — give me a second,” says Baus in the video with an almost Pikachu-like energy level as she recalls the events that led her to this moment. “I work at Panera — no I don’t — I work in a Panera …”
Baus holds a Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade from Panera, which is why she may seem a little frenetic. Baus says she works inside of a Panera, using the chain’s free Wi-Fi instead of paying for a co-working space.
“When I’m at my local Panera they have free refills,” Baus says, showing off the Charged Lemonade in her hand. She says that she knew that the drink had caffeine in it, but by the tone in her delivery, it becomes apparent she was unaware of how much.
“Sitting there, I’ll drink four or five of these and I was always like, ‘Man, when I work at Panera, I feel great! I feel awesome! I get so much done!’” she says.
Baus then explains that later, she was traveling through the drive-thru with her husband, who has Type 1 diabetes, when she had a Charged Lemonade craving. So that he could try it for himself, her husband looked up the nutritional facts to manage his blood sugar.
To their surprise, the couple learned that a regular-sized Charged Lemonade (particularly the Mango Yuzu flavor) has 82 grams of sugar and 260 milligrams of caffeine.
“Espresso has 63 milligrams of caffeine,” Baus says in the video excitedly. (Indeed, the FDA's website notes that a fluid ounce of espresso has 62.8 milligrams of caffeine.) “I don’t drink coffee, I don’t have caffeine very much … I thought!"
Baus concludes her story by noting that the most caffeine she has is an occasional Diet Coke, which has 46 milligrams of caffeine (in a 12-ounce can).
“I feel like the Hulk. And I’m drinking these, and I really like them. I said that I’m gonna water them down. But Panera, who’s gonna create a product with 263 milligrams of caffeine? Look what you’re doing!” she says in the video.
After going viral on TikTok, with hundreds of thousands of views, Twitter user @finegodmother shared the video on Twitter, where Baus' story experienced an even larger wave of virality.
“Somebody at panera gon end up getting sued,” reads the caption on the Twitter video, which has been viewed nearly 6 million times.
Though Panera declined to comment to TODAY.com, it posts nutritional content on signage and at drink dispenser stations in-store and at its drive-thru menu. Online and in-app, nutritional facts are posted on each of Panera’s menu items, and note when an item contains caffeine as well.
“Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee,” reads the description at the top of each page for Panera’s Charged Lemonades, listing caffeine, coffee extract and guarana extract all as sources of the energy boost the beverages provide.
If you take Baus’ claims at face value, “four or five” of her preferred flavor of Charged Lemonades would mean she consumed 1,040 to 1,300 milligrams of caffeine over the course of her day. The FDA cites 400 milligrams of caffeine a day "as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects." That’s about four or five cups of coffee, five 12.8-ounce cans of Red Bull, or one-and-a- half regular-sized Charged Lemonades.
Further, the FDA estimates toxic effects, like seizures, can occur with rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine in one sitting, but it's worth noting that caffeine overdoses are very rare. Thankfully for Baus, all she says she experienced is a high vibrational shift in her aura for an afternoon.
“I’m generally a very bubbly, hyper person, energetic. And so I was just like, ‘Whoa, I feel really good. I feel very, very happy. I feel very me,” Baus tells TODAY.com, adding that she is a member of the Unlimited Sip Club, which is why she drank so much that day.
Baus says when found out how much caffeine was in her drinks, she felt a wave of realization wash over her. “It struck me that I actually felt quite jittery, I couldn’t stop moving. I just wanted to keep doing things. My mind was going so fast and I wondered why I was so productive, but now I know,” she says.
Baus adds that after flying high on the wings of lemonade, she checked the drink dispenser in her Panera of choice, which she confirms lists the drink’s nutritional facts. But she didn’t pay close attention to it at the time, only noting that it was caffeinated.
"I just kind of assumed it had a normal amount of caffeine, I didn’t really put a ton of thought into it,” Baus says. “I should have looked.”
Baus says that she enjoys the fact that her experience spread a bit of awareness for folks to look closer at what they’re ordering at restaurants. While her Panera drink spree led to an exciting afternoon, viral notability and a ton of memes, she still drinks Panera’s Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade while she works at her local shop, albeit with a twist.
“I think it’s sweet, so I’ve started doing 50% water and 50% of the drink and it still tastes delicious and you’re not getting near as much caffeine or sugar and it’s still very good,” Baus says, adding that she’s also upped that ratio to 80% water and 20% of the drink with a favorable outcome.
“I love Panera’s food and it’s a great environment to work in — and you can’t really you can’t beat the deal of the Unlimited Sip Club,” she says. “I’ll continue to drink them and maybe I’ll switch to some of their other items as well. But I will, for sure, be watering them down from now on.”