In the ’90s, energy drinks-soft drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine-became popular in rave culture among those looking for non-alcoholic fuel
for all-night dancing. Among European club kids, it became trendy to mix the energy drink Red Bull with vodka to produce a high-octane cocktail. (The drink has since been banned in France and Denmark due, in part, to its possible negative effects when mixed with alcohol.) But ever since Red Bull, a favourite among stars like Britney Spears, started to garner mainstream attention, soda companies have been scrambling to create their own versions.
Today, energy drinks, which feature manic graphics and names
like Monster and Rockstar, have surpassed bottled water as the fastest-growing beverage category in the U.S. In Canada, the sale of Red Bull was legalized last summer, paving the way for the stream of imitators now lining store shelves. We tested five brands.
What’s in Store
Jolt’s new Caffeine Energy Gum (US$1.50) is loaded with heartaccelerating ingredients and comes in two fresh, minty flavours. Although it’s currently unavailable here, Canadian military researchers have been experimenting with a similar product in Petawawa, Ont., designed to help soldiers stay alert.
These drinks may give you a burst of energy, but it won’t last. In fact, coming down from all the sugar and caffeine will knock you out. Try jogging around the block instead-a natural adrenaline rush beats a bottled one.
Unlike the others, which are sickly sweet, SoBe Arush has a light citrus flavour.
RED BULL WWE’S RAW ENERGY MONSTER SOBE ARUSH BAWLS GUARANA (250 ml/$2.99) FUEL CELL (330 ml/$2.49) (473 ml/$2.99) (250 ml/$1.99) (300 ml/$2.29) CALORIES/CAFFEINE 110 cal/80 mg (a can of 150 cal/65 mg Approx 200 cal. Caffeine 140cal/79mg 120cal/65mg Coke contains about 35 mg content not available, of caffeine and 140 calories) OTHER KEY INGREDIENTS Vitamins B6 and B12 Guaraña, a berry seed exGuaraña, panax ginseng, Guaraña, panax ginseng Guaraña tract found in the Amazon astragalus, maca root, root extract, astragalus, that has a stimulant effect yerba mate. yerba mate leaf extract. similar to caffeine. LABEL WARNINGS TIP: Read the fine print. Just because an energy drink “Do not consume more “Not recommended for “Limit 3 cans per day, not is labelled “healthy” or “natural” doesn’t mean the amount than 500 ml (2 cans) a day.” diabetics, pregnant women recommended for children, of stimulants it contains is safe for everyone. “Not recommended... to be or people sensitive to pregnant women or people mixed with alcohol.” caffeine.” sensitive to caffeine.” None. None. TASTING NOTES A nice cherry and cotton More cotton candy flavour. Similar to Red Bull, but way Light. Delicious grapefruit Like a watered-down ginger candy taste. It’s smooth and Seems odd that a WWEsweeter. Left a furry residue flavour-a drink I’d actually ale with a hint of cotton fizzy like a cream soda. branded drink should taste on my teeth. Was concerned choose to consume. candy sweetness (yes, (So what’s with the bull?) so pretty-though there is that my stomach wouldn’t again). Elegant blue glass an unpleasant burnt-coffee hold this supersized drink. bottle. Shame about the aftertaste. name. JOLT FACTOR Drank first thing in the If anything, all the sugar Label suggests a postNada. Maybe it’s just me. morning to stave off effects just made me crash later. beverage Jekyll-and-Hyde of sleep deprivation. Would not have fared well transformation. Again, felt Prepared to bounce off in Royal Rumble. nothing. walls. Hours go by and still no bouncing. For past Money’s Worth product test drives, go to www.macleans.ca/consumer
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