Kennedy insists her newsletter wasn't at all directed at teenagers or young adults. It stemmed from research right in the town where she lives and her growing concerns about children drinking high-sugar and caffeinated beverages.
A parent of her own with two boys (4 and 11), Kennedy has a doctorate and is the founder of Build Healthy Kids, and has been a nutritional researcher, author and consultant for 25 years. She has worked at Yale University, Columbia and Tufts and is now working on her third book.
Kennedy says she recently surveyed 97 kindergarten-fourth graders in Guilford schools and got some disturbing results.
"Seventy-three percent of the kindergarteners said energy drinks are healthy," Kennedy says. "And 68 percent thought they were so healthy they should be drunk every day... That's very concerning."
What concerned Monster Beverage was that part about caffeine drinks and death. (A request for comment from the company for this story got no response.)
A spokesman for Monster told the New York Times that a 7-year-old child of one of the company's employees brought home Kennedy's newsletter. "No child... should be falsely informed that his or her father's company is a child killer," a Monster spokesman was quoted as saying.
Kennedy says she was shocked by Monster Beverage's threatening letter and its demands for retractions. She got in touch with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who rounded up several congressional colleagues and wrote to Monster asking the company to back off.
Monster Beverages had an estimated $2.1 billion in revenue last year, according to the one investment advisory website, and is the largest publicly traded energy drink company in the world. But its stock price has been dipping of late, down more than 40 percent since last spring, the Times reported.
Kennedy doesn't sound intimidated in the least by the size of her opponent. She's now gotten herself a lawyer and insists she's going to fight: "The only thing I have is my credibility."
"They call themselves Monster," she adds, "so they're living up to their name."