Who would’ve guessed it? Our first bout of collective hysteria this year involves a low-calorie, high-caffeine energy drink that looks like radioactive spillage – Prime, the marketing brainchild of two of YouTube’s biggest influencers.
Before we get into it, a little recap: Back in December 2021, Logan Paul and KSI began teasing a score-settling blockbuster third and final fight. The Yank versus the Brit once again; teens are more excited than Drake when he finds a new subculture to scavenge off. The pair hold an Instagram live with an audience of close to half-a-million and shock, horror and hoodwink everyone in virtual attendance: There will be no fight. Rather, there will be a sports hydration drink – the unimaginatively named Prime.
It’s been a crazy ol’ ride for Prime. There’s been a conveyer belt of sellouts and restocks since its official UK release in 2022. Those who managed to get the drink in the middle of last year posted about it in any way possible: taste reviews, flexes, some reselling. It was mildly crazy, but nothing huge – just a bottled Powerade knockoff that was hard to get. Then came December, when big boy supermarkets of Aldi and Costco got it in big boy quantities, making demand for the drink go viral. And then, like thunder during a storm, Prime Energy cans were released for UK markets.
This is when shit really started to pop off. The now infamous Wakey Wines shop in Wakefield, England posted videos selling crates of the stuff to families for £1,070; one pub started taking Prime Energy in lieu of payment; one drug dealer allegedly offered a Prime Energy extra with three for £100 deals; adults fought young teens in Aldi over restocks; Gordon Ramsey tried one live on radio (“it’s like swallowing perfume”), and rappers like Central Cee posted the drink on their IG story like it was a solid gold Ben Baller chain.
But it is literally, and I cannot stress this enough, just a drink. So why the hype? While kids and teens may really want this stuff, all the madness has been driven by price inflation. While the drink retails at £2, our non-official analysis of the market concluded that individual bottles are usually sold for close to £20. Prime scalpers have emerged on every platform imaginable: TikTok, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Instagram and even convenience shops. So how much cash have these sellers and scalpers actually been making?
Mohammed, 39, convenience shop seller
VICE: Hi Mohammed! When did you start selling Prime Energy?Mohammed: I started selling at the start of the year. It has been mad.
Yeah, bro. The demand for this is kids who are not well-off. It’s sad.
How much have you sold? And where do you sell it?
I have sold around 30 cases this year, with 12 bottles coming in each. I sell it in my shop, but also on Facebook Marketplace. I have sold it on Gumtree, as well.
How much have you made overall?
I’ve made around £5,000.
Do you feel bad making money off the craze?
These things come and go, and someone is always going to make money off it. I’m not scamming people. I’m not making kids move drugs. I’m just supplying what they want.
Have you tried it?
Yep, I like it.
Alex, 32, wholesale supplier
VICE: Hi, thanks for talking with us! What made you start selling Prime Energy?
Alex: We buy and sell all the latest fads. Before this it was e-cigarettes – Elux Legends and Crystal Pros – designer clothes, sometimes iPhones. I’m in a WhatsApp group where we get offered the latest fad whatever it is.
What do you think about these crazes?
It’s just stupid teenagers. They buy things to look cool. They’ll always be something going on. They’ll be bored of Prime soon.
So, how do you sell Prime?
I sell it in bulk to convenience shops, online sellers, whoever wants it. I have sold pellets of the stuff – 133 cases.
And how much do you sell it for?
It changes. When it was at its maddest I was selling a case of 12 for £60. It was selling fast. I was working all day on this.
How much did you make in profit?
Are you the fucking tax man? [From our calculations, Alex has made roughly £15,000.]
What do you think about places like Wakey Wines selling cans for £100?
Absolute clowns. To be honest, everyone needs a slap. The sellers, owners, parents. Even the kids. But Wakey Wines, they need the biggest slap.
And finally, have you tried it?
Someone offered me a free one and I refused it.
Humzah, 21, online reseller
VICE: So, Humzah, when did you start selling Prime?
Humzah: The beginning of December, before it all started to get wild.
What do you think about the madness?
To be honest, it just gives everyone something to speak about, doesn’t it? KSI and the Paul brothers are always dominating the headlines somehow.
Do you like the Paul brothers and KSI?
Haha, I like KSI. He’s funny, man. The Pauls, no chance. I’m from the UK, so KSI all the way.
How did you get your stock in early December?
I’ve bought it from wholesalers and got products imported from America.
How much have you made overall?
Honestly, only around £300 profit.
That doesn’t seem like that much – how come?
A lot of people don't understand why some prices are so expensive, taking into account export and import costs. When it's the US version, people will pay the higher price. When it's the UK ones, they want it cheap, which I understand. If I get it cheap, I'll sell it cheaper.
So how come you do it?
It's a graft and exciting, to be honest. Keeps me busy and I've met some amazing people through Facebook Marketplace. It's crazy how fast the word spreads.
Have you tried it?
I have had a couple of sips of the bottles. Honestly, it doesn’t taste as great as everyone makes out. It doesn’t taste bad but it’s definitely extremely overrated. To me, it tastes like [a] pre-workout [drink]. I think that after a whole bottle of it, I'd probably feel ill.