The original V8, developed by Frank Constable and named after the V8 engine (the most powerful in the 1930s), was a savory tomato juice (87%) with the addition of 7 vegetable juices.
V8 Vegetable Juice contains beet, celery, carrots, lettuce, parsley, watercress, spinach, and tomato. Campbell Soups acquired it in 1948 and then produced several varieties of the juice like Original, Spicy Hot, Hint of Black Pepper (discontinued), Lemon, Picante, Low-Sodium, and Essential Antioxidants.
The additional flavors introduced later were High Fiber, Beet Ginger Lemon, Carrot Ginger, Low Sodium Spicy Hot, and Bloody Mary Mix (the sugar and vinegar in this contain GMO derivatives).
Campbell’s then created various brands containing blended vegetables (specifically carrot) and fruit juices-V8 Energy, V8 Splash, and V8 V•Fusion to add to the original V8.
V8 Splash/Blend is a juice cocktail/drink, meaning that it is fruit juice with added High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and sucralose to sweeten it. It has a diet version without corn syrup. HFCS is made from corn starch, and according to the American FDA, it is as safe as regular sugar or honey. It is preferred over regular sugar as it is cheaper and easier to handle. The five products in this range are Healthy Greens, Strawberry Banana, Pomegranate Blueberry, Peach Mango, and Acai Mixed Berry.
V8 Energy is also a cocktail, partially sweetened with sucralose, an artificial sweetener- commonly known by its commercial name- Splenda. Sucralose is twice as sweet as saccharine and thrice as sweet as aspartame. But it is tastier, safer, and more stable than both, at higher temperatures. Though there is no evidence that these artificial sweeteners aid long-term weight loss, there is data supporting weight gain and the risk of heart disease. On the flip side, it is safe for consumption by those with diabetes and does not promote tooth decay.
Besides the Diet version of V8 Energy, there is V8 +Hydrate, V8 Energy+, and V8 +Sparkling Energy. Together they form 27 products in the V8 range. The V8 Energy+ includes tea (both black and green tea extract) to give you a shot of caffeine (80mg) energy boost. It has Vitamin B and no added sugar. The V8 +Sparkling Energy is the carbonated version of the Energy+ and comes in four flavors. V8 +Hydrate contains added electrolytes.
V•Fusion (also known as V8 Fruit & Vegetable Juice) is a 100% juice range. However, it is reconstituted from concentrates, so both sugar and sodium are on the higher side. Depending on the vegetables and fruits in the blend, V Fusion is rich in Vitamins A, C, K and contains an adequate proportion (of the daily nutritional needs) of Potassium, Calcium, and Iron. There are seven flavors in this category.
V8 +Protein, a plant-based (fava bean protein isolate) protein drink (10 gms of protein and 5 gms of fiber in 11.5 fl oz.), was launched in November 2021 and is the newest kid on the block.
V8 Storage and Consumption
Having talked extensively about the product and the ingredients, let us look at how well V8 keeps and the average consumption cycle one should consider when purchasing V8 products.
Campbell’s categorizes its V8 product catalog as a healthy option for Americans who do not get their daily requirement of fruits and vegetables. An 8oz glass of V8 juice is advertised as containing- one full serving (1/2 cup) of vegetables and one full serving (1/2 cup) of fruit. V8 juices are supposed to provide an easy, convenient and delicious way to help people attain their daily vegetable and fruit needs.
The company has on-the-go, slim, single serve 8 fl oz. (240ml) cans for easy carriage, storage, and consumption. Products also come in 12 fl oz. (around 2 servings), 46 fl oz. (around 6 servings), and 64 fl oz. (around 8 servings) bottles. A few products come in 5.5 fl oz. (less than one serving), 11.5 fl oz. (around 1.5 servings) and 32 fl oz. (around 4 servings) bottles. Most cans/bottles can be purchased singly, and some come in 4 pack, 6 pack, 8 pack, and 12 pack sizes. The great thing about this is that all V8 containers are recyclable.
Even though refrigeration is not necessary before consumption, V8 is best drunk chilled. Remember to shake well before opening the bottle. Once it is opened, any unconsumed product must be promptly refrigerated. This helps to maintain quality. If the juice bottle or can has been kept outside for a while, at a room temperature of over 90°F (32°C), it is best to throw it away and not consume it.
One must check the product label for information about nutrition, GMO, sugar, fat, and sodium content. It is equally important to check the date of manufacture, expiry date, and storage instructions while buying V8 products. Along with reading the product label, check the product by ensuring that the cap and neckband are intact. Any damage in these two means DO NOT BUY.
The quality of any V8 product depends on how soon it is refrigerated after opening and the temperature set in the refrigerator. If it has been a couple of days, it is a good bet to do a smell and small-sip test before consuming a glassful. It is best to consume a V8 product on or before the “BEST BEFORE” date on the product label and only if it has been well refrigerated after opening.
Unopened cans/bottles should be stored in a cool, dark place and would be ok for between 12 to 24 months based on their expiry date. Once opened and refrigerated, the rule of thumb is to drink up within 10-14 days. After that, an open drink in the fridge is not safe to drink. The best way to extend the life of an opened juice/cocktail is to freeze it in an airtight container leaving a little space on top. This would allow you to store the product for about 8-12 months.
Good or bad?
Avoid consuming if the product is discolored, smells strange, tastes funny, and/or has mold growing on it. If stored bottles/cans are leaking, bulging, rusting, or severely dented, please discard them immediately. Juice can be safe to drink even beyond its expiration date if stored correctly. Open juice, left out, will ferment.
Even in the fridge, over a few days, bacteria will grow and cause the sugars to ferment. If you do drink this spoiled juice by mistake, it can lead to stomach aches, diarrhea, and even vomiting. You may also develop fever, headache, and general body aches. Symptoms can be triggered in 20 minutes to up to six weeks- please seek immediate medical treatment if any symptoms present themselves.
Studies have shown that excessive consumption can cause upset stomachs- not the vegetable juice but the blends (mix of vegetable and fruit juices), so moderation is advised. Some of these drinks have high sodium content, so please read the label before purchase, especially if you have a daily limit and/or suffer from hypertension.
This is also true of products with high sugar content so check the label before buying if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Acidic fruits and vegetables (tomatoes and citrus fruits are the big culprits here) can cause heartburn and trigger reflux. Try drinking smaller quantities with food or change the type chosen.
What then is the Best?
V8 works as an occasional snack or meal replacement if you are into counting calories, but cannot replace eating whole fruits and vegetables daily. In smoothies and shakes, it is a good alternative to sweeter juices like apple, pineapple, or carrot.
If you are a regular soda drinker, this is a better option. V8 helps to cut down calories and reduce your sodium intake (stick to the low sodium options) if you dilute it by adding water, ice, or a splash of seltzer.
I am Anand, and I am a business owner and consultant in my day job. I have spent years studying what’s inside the products we buy. ‘Feedrer’ is a wordplay on you-know-who and talks about all things food.