Why Becky Juice Matters

Eric Burdick and Sheldon Wiley, the founders of Becky Personality Juice.
Eric Burdick and Sheldon Wiley, the founders of Becky Personality Juice. Becky Personality Juice
I was desperate to know what Becky Personality Juice is.

Its name suggests it might be a kind of nectar that gives one personality, perhaps the personality of someone named Becky. Less appealing is the notion that this canned beverage is somehow distilled from Becky herself, so I tried not to think about that.

The product’s website (found at the super-lewd URL helped me with the Becky basics: Becky Personality Juice is a hard seltzer available in four flavors, and hard seltzer is a carbonated water containing alcohol and fruit flavoring — in Becky’s case, mango and passion fruit and tropical cherry, each blended with a pink lemonade base. One could also throw caution to the wind and just drink Becky as straight lemonade.

Becky’s website is quite bossy, demanding that I “Taste Becky!” and “Go Full Becky!” and “Be a Becky, not a Karen!” It's emblazoned with words like “Slay” and made-up words like “Yass,” which my friend Mike told me is a phrase that came from drag queen culture and means “Yes,” only sassier.

Still I had questions — mostly about the name.

“Is 'Becky' the modifier?” I asked Sheldon Wiley, one of the Scottsdale-based entrepreneurs who invented this urgent new drink. “Or is it 'Personality'?”

“When you say 'modifier',” Wiley replied, “what does that mean?”

It turned out that Personality Juice is the name of the company he and his friends Eric Burdick and Patrick Nies have cofounded. They hoped, he told me, to come up with other drinks they could name after different women. I wanted to suggest a cola called Miriam Hopkins and maybe a tomato juice named Rotunda Jones, but before I could, Wiley began telling me more about Becky.

“She’s our girl,” he said. “Becky is the one who’s glowing, she’s the prom queen everyone wants to know. So we’re doubling down on her right now.”

I scribbled a note to myself to ask someone if canned beverages had their own pronouns these days (I’m old and it’s hard to keep up) while Wiley continued on about Becky.

“We wanted a name that would resonate with the younger millennial, the upper-age Gen Z person," Wiley said. "Becky is what we came up with. Everyone knows a Becky. She’s the life of the party, she’s fun and she knows how to let loose and enjoy herself.”

When people pick up a can of Becky, Wiley explained, her name causes them to smile and to begin talking.

“That engagement factor is what we were looking for,” he said.

They were also looking to expand their brand by way of the giant distribution deal they’d just scored with Southern Wine and Spirits.

“That’s big,” Wiley said. “They’re one of the largest alcohol distributors in the country. They believe in us, they have big plans for us.”

One of those plans, according to a Becky press release, is to “follow the bachelorette party crowd.”

I confessed to Wiley that I didn’t know there was such a thing.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Weddings are a pretty big business, so if you look at the Scottsdales of the world, the Dallases and the Nashvilles, these are markets that are flooded with bachelorette parties. Becky resonates with that batch-and-brunch crowd. It’s a thing! And when they’re out there having a good time, they feel like they’re a bunch of Beckys.”

This confused me, so I changed the subject. What, I asked Wiley, did Becky Juice taste like?

“Fruit,” he replied, and at first I thought he’d had enough of my stupid questions and was getting even by disparaging my sexuality. But then he said, “Every sip has to taste like you’re taking a bite of a nice, ripe piece of fruit. We wanted to be clear what fruit tastes like in every Becky, so when you crack open a can you can smell what you’re about to drink.”

Becky’s ripe fruit is about to explode. “We’re going global, baby!” Wiley said. “In the next two or three months, we’ll expand to southern California, Florida, Texas, and New York. We’re also going to be distributed in Australia and Bali and Indonesia. There’s no hard seltzer out there. Well, there is one, but it’s not very good.”

In the meantime, Wiley said, the company — and investor James Flores — are going to focus on fun.

“If you check out our social media, you’ll see we’re all about fun,” he said. “We have a single core value. We won’t do anything that doesn’t have personality. It’s got to be fun.”

That did seem important, I told him.

“We like to say that you’re not drinking a Becky," he said. "It’s more like, when you’re drinking Becky, you’re hanging out with her."
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela