Eric Helms is hoarding this superfruit

Juice Generation’s new Pink Pataya Coco Blend (right).


When you take your first sweet sip of Juice Generation’s new Pink Pitaya Coco Blend, founder Eric Helms wants you to feel like you just made it past a velvet rope.

Why? The company says that it has a year-long “exclusive” on the hot pink antioxidant-packed pitaya—a form of dragon fruit that’s sourced from small farms in Nicaragua. After the short growing season is over, he’s storing his smoothie packs of the blended fruit frozen in a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Pennsylvania, so he can keep us in supply year-round.

Helms might be bringing pitaya to the New York smoothie-sipping cognoscenti, but his supplier has been slowly stocking the juice at Whole Foods and other healthy outposts. (It’s the pink bottle that looks like fruit punch meets Samabazon.)


Pitaya on the outside and the inside.

“I’m the only one to export it in the history of Nicaragua,” says Chuck Casano, the veritable Prince of Pataya, who has a lock on the crops and is selling it to Helms.

Casano, a native New Yorker who now splits his time between San Diego and Nicaragua, discovered the fruit while working for a nonprofit in the country and launched his company, Pitaya Plus, in February of last year. In addition to bottled juices, Casano sells dried pitaya snack packs in health food stores in New York.

In the process, Casano has become an expert on the fruit he describes as resembling a “flaming pink artichoke.” He works directly with the farmers who cultivate it on the back side of the Masaya Volcano, where the rich soil infuses the fruit with the incredible nutrients that set it apart from the white-fleshed Asian dragon fruit that is widely sold. “My goal is to make it the next acai,” he says.

Helms will freeze these pitaya packs to keep the fruit fresh all year for your healthy smoothie habit.

When Helms tracked him down and asked if he would share the Pitaya bounty with him (and him alone) for the next year, Casano saw an opportunity to set that in motion. “He’s in all of the right places, so it was kind of a no-brainer for us,” Casano says.

If Juice Generation’s loyal followers fall in love with Helm’s concoction and more people start to spot Casano’s juices on supermarket shelves, that moment may come sooner than later. “We’re building a new factory in Nicaragua this year,” Casano says, “so we’ll be ready if the demand comes.” —Lisa Elaine Held

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6 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. Maggie @ Balance NYC
    July 10th, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Isnt this just dragon fruit? Which you can get in Chinatown, fresh, for just a few dollars?

  2. July 10th, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Hi Maggie, it’s similar but slightly different. The dragon fruit you’ll find in Chinatown is a white fruit, while Pitaya is bright pink. The color is one indication of its higher antioxidant content.

  3. July 10th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Maggie, the Dragon fruit which you get in Chinatown has also been irradiated before it is allowed in the US. Our Pitaya is USDA Organic and has NOT been irradiated or had any preservatives added.

  4. July 12th, 2012 at 11:18 am

    can you get the casano juices in las vegas if so can you tell me were

  5. November 12th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Nothing you can’t get in beet juice.

  6. February 1st, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Hello Eric

    I have plated champion red Pitaya in 0.7 hectare in Taiwan. The average weight of the pitaya is up to 1kg. We could also get the giant 1.8kg pitaya.

    I do appreciate that you could give me the feedback via email since I have some of idea to share with you


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