Grins: USDA beverage rules could do more to encourage healthy habits

Grins Enterprises Inc. applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to improve the quality of food and beverages America’s children receive in schools through tightened standards for its school meals programs.

The USDA’s “Smart Snacks in School” proposal made earlier this month includes a lot of common-sense standards that will improve young people’s diets.

Grins is a beverage company committed to improving the health and well-being of our country’s children.From that perspective, we must disagree with some key assumptions behind these rules.

While 100 percent fruit juice is a more natural product with more vitamins than soda and sugary juice drinks, parents and children should realize that it still contains a lot of calories and sugar, without providing the fiber and other benefits a person would receive by eating a piece of whole fruit.

The USDA’s proposed rules would allow only milk, water and 100 percent fruit juice in middle and elementary schools. High schools would be able to sell additional beverages, including diet soda and other calorie-free flavored beverages, and other drinks with 50 or fewer calories per 8-oz. serving.

Pure apple juice contains more than two times that amount of calories.

And while artificial sweeteners don’t add to a young person’s calorie load, they have been scientifically proven to interfere with natural appetite control, and can make people crave even more sugary foods.

At Grins, we don’t think these are the right tools to use in the fight against childhood obesity.

Our better-for-you beverages were born at the front lines of that fight. A school foodservice manager told us he was unhappy with the beverage options he had to serve to his students. Popular sports drinks were full of artificial ingredients and sodium, and many drinks packed far too many calories.

Working with a respected expert in the organic and natural foods industry, we developed Grins. Grins is a better-for-you beverage with no artificial sweeteners or colors. It has fewer calories than the average sugar-sweetened beverage, and fewer than half the calories of 100 percent apple or orange juice. Grins also delivers a reasonable dose of essential vitamins.

The human body can’t perform without a constant supply of fluids. Most of us need 64 ounces or more of fluid each day.

In a perfect world, we would all drink water to quench our thirst, but the preference for sweet is programmed into us by evolution, and has been shown to exist from birth.

Grins seeks to fill the need for some of those 64 daily ounces to taste like something other than water, without weighing you down with calories or using artificial ingredients to trick your tastebuds.

Grins can be a fun, healthy part of an active lifestyle, and a growing number of schools, retailers and young athletes are discovering this.

Join us in helping everyone make better choices to get the fluids they need. You can learn more about our story at

Help us bring Grins to more faces!

Grins is in the running for a $250,000 grant from Chase and LivingSocial’s Mission:Small Business program.

We’re asking all our fans to go to, log in with Facebook and cast a vote for Grins Enterprises, based in North Carolina. You can vote now through the end of this month, and we’d love it if you could share your votes with your Facebook friends.

This grant would allow us to bring more people on at Grins Headquarters, which would mean we could spread Grins in more schools and stores around the country. The response to our product has been so overwhelmingly positive so far that we know that increasing the Grins workforce would really allow us to take off!

We need all the votes we can get, so tell your friends and family how much you like Grins and what we’re all about. Thanks for your support, we are putting Grins on new faces every day!

Fruit juice, sugar and why we’re making Grins

The above clip is from the recent HBO documentary, “The Weight of the Nation,” a call to action on America’s obesity epidemic.

Among the points the film addresses is the way we seem to have swapped out soda for 100 percent fruit juice in so many areas of daily life (school cafeterias, hospitals, etc.), under the assumption that it is “healthier.”

While fruit juice is a much more natural beverage than soda and provides many more vitamins, the main driver behind obesity, weight gain and increased diabetes rates is sugar and caloric intake.

On this measure alone, juice doesn’t look that different from soda.

Take, for instance, 100 percent apple juice. An 8-ounce serving has 120 calories, and 26 grams of sugar. An 8-ounce serving of Coca-Cola has 100 calories and 27 grams of sugar.

Surprised? So were we, and that’s one of the reasons we created Grins. We wanted to bring an all-natural beverage to the marketplace that would give people a great-tasting option that delivered fewer calories and less sugar than other popular beverages.

An 8-ounce serving of Grins has 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar. Half (or less) than you’ll find in many juices and sodas.

You can read more about recommendations for limiting juice intake in this recent story by a writer for the Chicago Tribune. It includes this quote from the HBO documentary:

“Juice is just like soda, and I’m saying it right here on camera,” pediatric obesity specialist Robert Lustig said in the documentary “Weight of the Nation,” produced in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There is no difference. When you take fruit and squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature’s way of getting you to eat your fiber.”

Just in time for summer: Many more stores offering Grins

As we approach Memorial Day weekend, an entire summer of cookouts, picnics, baseball games and long days at the pool lies ahead.

What’s the perfect take-along to any of these events? Why, an ice-cold cooler full of Grins, of course!

Just in time for the happiest season of the year, The Official Beverage of Happy People is becoming available in many new markets. Check back often for updates, but here’s what you can look for now:

WilcoHess, which has 400 convenience stores and restaurants across the Southeast, has begun adding Grins in many markets, and will continue this process through late June. Before Memorial Day, Grins will be available in WilcoHess stores in the following markets:

Virginia: Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Suffolk, Newport News, Gloucester

North Carolina: Kill Devil Hills, Manteo, New Bern, Jacksonville, Swansboro, Emerald Isle, Cape Carteret, Morehead City, Beaufort, Richlands, Washington, Wilmington, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Rapids, Murfreesboro, Edenton, Ashokie, Sneads Ferry and more.

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach, Pawley’s Island, Murrells Inlet, Conway and more.

Find a full list of WilcoHess locations here. Look for Grins to enter these stores very soon.

Also, New Dixie Oil, which has 39 stores in North Carolina and Virginia, is now offering Grins. Find a store locator here.

Whatever you do this Memorial Day weekend, we hope you stay safe and keep Grinning!

Winston-Salem’s soccer HQ makes Grins its first beverage

Soccer Unlimited in Winston-Salem celebrated its 30th year in business March 12. In all those three decades, the soccer retailer, which has been a gathering point for Winston-Salem’s soccer community as it has grown, hasn’t offered beverages for sale.

Until now, that is. Last week, Grins became the first beverage President Brian Fitzgerald put in his shop.

Fitzgerald said he learned about Grins while working with Winston-Salem native and Major League Soccer player Wells Thompson on his Wells Thompson Signature Soccer camp back in January. Grins was the official beverage sponsor of the camp.

Fitzgerald–who doesn’t go for high-sugar beverages in his own home–said Grins’ nutritional profile appealed to him.

“In our family, we don’t drink soft drinks or Gatorade, … so we loved the idea of a low-calorie, better-for-you beverage,” he said. “It’s the only thing we’ve put in the store.”

A lot of kids come to Soccer Unlimited fresh off the field from soccer practices, games or tournaments, and Fitzgerald said he wanted them to be able to grab something to help them rehydrate–he just wanted to make sure that something wasn’t going to load them down with sugar or sodium.

“I like everything about the drink and thought it fit in well with our philosophy here and the vibe in the store,” he said.

For a full list of where to buy Grins, click here. Find Soccer Unlimited on Facebook here.

The Official Beverage of Happy People, now sold at the “Happy Hospital”

Grins Director of Fun (a.k.a. director of operations) Nathan Battle delivers Grins to Ginger Penley, director of volunteer services, and Carolyn Campbell, president of volunteers for the auxiliary at The Women’s Hospital in Greensboro, N.C.

Among the newest locations to sell Grins is a place that we really think fits well with the Grins mantra of happiness and positivity.

The Sweet Pea Gift Shop at The Women’s Hospital of Greensboro, N.C., part of the Cone Health network, started selling Grins a few weeks ago.

The Women’s Hospital is North Carolina’s first freestanding hospital dedicated to women, and offers a top-of-the-line slate of services for new mothers and babies. Because of this mission, it is known as the “Happy Hospital.”

If you find yourself at this hospital any time soon, we wish your warm congratulations on your new addition. Why not celebrate with an ice-cold, all-natural Grins?

Grins featured on WFMY’s “Made in the Triad” segment.

Grins was featured last night on WFMY’s news cast. One correction: While we will soon be available in all Wilco-Hess stores, you can’t buy Grins there quite yet. But rest assured we’ll let you know when you can!

Grins takes off in first Virginia school system

Abingdon High School

Grins made its debut in Virginia schools this week, and is now for sale in cafeterias at Wallace Middle School and Abingdon High School in Washington County. This school district is just down the road from where Grins is made, at First Fruits Beverage Co. in Marion, Va.

Students and teachers alike immediately made Grins a favorite. After just two days of lunchtime sales at this school of 800 to 900 students, school nutrition manager Barbara Davenport said she’s down to one remaining case, from the 10 Grins dropped off yesterday.

“It has really taken off,” she said. “I think I’d better order more, because they’re going to be asking for it.”

Davenport said she likes the fact that Grins is a better-for-you alternative to higher-calorie beverages marketed toward young people.

But what makes it stand out among the cafeteria’s offerings of fruit juices, milk, water and Vitamin Water, is its refreshing taste and a lack of what she called a “funky aftertaste” that can come from too many artificial ingredients.

“A lot of the students yesterday enjoyed the taste of it, that it was refreshing and that it didn’t have that artificial aftertaste with it,” she said, adding that many of the students who were previously purchasing Vitamin Water are now asking for Grins. “That was the big clincher there.”

She said faculty members have also become fans. One teacher bought some to take to her daughter after soccer practice, as an alternative to soda.

“Teachers have commented that they like the taste of it a lot better,” Davenport said.

The idea for Grins was born in a school cafeteria, after a food service manager complained about the lack of healthy options he had to offer his kids [Read the full story here.].

Grins is made with no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, and packs just 50 calories per 8-ounce serving, which is fewer calories than many pure fruit juices.

Davenport said she looks forward to replenishing her school’s supply of Grins, and to serving it throughout the rest of the school year. When the first day of the 2012-2013 school year rolls around, you can bet Abingdon High School will be grinning.

Learn more about Grins at, or find us on Facebook.

Grins is great fuel for school

Lindsey Payne and Charles Odom enjoy Grins in class at Mt. Airy High School.

Grins is entering more schools every week. This week we had a great time introducing The Official Beverage of Happy People to students in Mt. Airy City Schools and Surry County Schools in North Carolina.

As we’ve always said, you never have a bad day selling Grins, and the students really embraced both the brand and the beverage.

In fact, they liked it so much that they shared their enthusiasm on our Facebook page almost before we had returned from our school visits!

We are excited to launch next week in Elkin City Schools and Stokes County Schools in North Carolina, and to enter our first school system in

Chelsea Palfreeman and Blake Martin got their hands on some Grins at Mt. Airy High School.

Virginia–Washington County Public Schools.

Since Grins is made in Marion, Va., we’re really grinning about taking all the enthusiasm and excitement that is building around this beverage into that state.

For a full list of school systems where we are sold, and for information on how to contact us about getting Grins in your school, visit our schools page here.

We couldn’t wait…Happy Grins Fan Appreciation Month!

The Happy People here at Grins have declared April “Grins Fan Appreciation Month.” We know April is still a couple of days away, but we couldn’t help ourselves, so we’re getting started early.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reception you’ve given Grins. To show our thanks, we’re offering a 20 percent discount off any apparel purchase in our Grins Gear online store now through the end of April. 

You can find the store here, full of shirts for guys and gals in an array of colors and styles, with free shipping. To use the discount, plug in the promo code facebook or twitter  in the “redeem coupon” slot on our online checkout page.

Thanks again for all of your support. We hope to bring you a lot to grin about this month!