Coca-Cola files patent for rice-thickened beverage

The big beverage companies have all created plans and taken action to reinvigorate consumer interest in carbonated soft drinks, but Coca-Cola might be hedging its bets against the continuing decline of the category by creating something new.

The number-one beverage producer appears to be working on a desert-on-the-go product, according to a recent filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filing describes a broad swath of beverages that include rice extracts or derivatives to thicken the beverage and give it a mouth feel similar to cream or custard. The beverage may also include starch, protein, fiber, fat, fruit flavors and flavors commonly associated with ice cream, pie, cake or pudding.

“The variety of portable deserts has not been exhausted,” the application said.

But Coca-Cola avoided firmly pinning down its plans. The application describes differing thicknesses that could be achieved, and what purposes they would serve. The application described one as “a dairy-free, low caloric, low fat beverage,” that echoes meal replacements like Muscle Milk. That brand has experienced explosive mainstream growth after being introduced to convenience channels earlier this year, and recently gained distribution with the Pepsi Bottling Group. Chief Coke bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises does not yet distribute a similar product.

A representative from Coca-Cola did not return a request for comment.