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ISSUE 120 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/4/2007

Energy drinks reviewed and ranked

By Julie Howard
Staff Writer

Friday, May 4, 2007

In the name of science and informed consumerism, I was commissioned to devise an overview of the selection of the energy drinks available for sale in our very own St. Olaf bookstore. The selection was fair and I believe my sample is a good representation of the variety. The following seven energy beverages were reviewed and then ranked in order from worst to best. Though I personally find energy drinks to be insufferably disgusting and a huge waste of money, I found a few surprises within the group.

Rockstar, a favorite drink of racecar drivers, boxers and heavy metal bands, was the worst drink we sampled. It tastes exactly like Red Bull: all the charm of Smarties and pool water. On the other hand, only Rockstar makes you feel like an actual rock star.

Sophomore Nate Bentley can attest to this: "I feel like a Rockstar!" he exclaimed upon his initial sip. Although it apparently fulfills its promise to make you "Party Like a Rockstar" and is also a top seller at St. Olaf, I recommend a different flavor of Rockstar that makes similar claims without making you want to vomit.

Coca Cola-made Coolah originated in a town called "Coolah" in Australia where, according to legend, people have enough energy to "Paint. Play rugby. Sing. Throw darts. Dance," which is a pretty awesome premise. Unfortunately, the flavor fails to live up to Coolah's brilliant marketing scheme. The lemony tang is accompanied by a foul chemical aftertaste reminiscent of toilet bowl cleaner.

Full Throttle: Blue Demon is another Coca-Cola energy drink. Agave is a key ingredient of tequila. Keep this in mind when you try to imagine what this beverage tastes like. People seemed to be polarized in their opinion of this drink. Some people thought it tasted like blue raspberry, I thought it tasted like a stranger's morning breath. Boys tended to like it, girls tended to hate it. However, the nutritional information was in both Spanish and English, which I found to be a beautiful cross-cultural gesture on the part of the Coca-Cola Company.

The Tab Energy can boasts that its contents taste like "candy in a can." This drink is like a bubbly cherry Jolly Rancher. Overall, Tab Energy was ranked moderately in the opinion of taste testers. Some found the sweetness overwhelming, though this drink is actually one of the few low-cal energy options. Rather than relying on sugar, Tab's energy comes from caffeine and 785 milligrams of Taurine, which urban legends would have us believe is some sort of extract of bull urine. The additive is normally synthetic and vegetarian-friendly.

Full Throttle is so hardcore, it's not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. This is a bland, but overall benign-tasting version of hopped-up Mountain Dew. But Full Throttle is not without its problems. Mike Drinane, a junior, finds fault not with the flavor, but with this beverage's street cred. He reflected upon the logo, which depicts a burst of flame a la some sort of motorcycle motif: "I just don't think a Harley Davidson-type guy would buy an energy drink," he said. You are so right, Mike, so right.

Enviga loudly proclaims to provide energy and boost your metabolism by a whopping 60-100 calories with only three cans per day. You can accomplish this gigantic feat in three different flavors: peach, green tea and berry. The peach flavor is "archaically Southern," English Professor Eliot Wilson said. "It is overwhelmingly and disgustingly sweet to begin with, but then becomes infinitely better, like the South." The berry flavor garnered similar praise. "It tastes like a tea bag in pop," Christina Roberts '08 said. While some people found Enviga "disgusting," the overall ranking was quite high in the field of drinks, most likely because Enviga is a stepping stone in the Coca- Cola mission that combines "global resources and Nestle expertise in nutritional science for the advancement of health and wellness."

Rockstar Juiced is scrumptiously guava, with very little aftertaste and is way better than the average energy beverage. Despite Juiced's wonderfulness, the tasters' responses were not wholly positive. In a witty retort to the can's claim of "70 percent juice/ 100 precent energy," sophomore Jacob Koch responded, "70 precent juice, 70 percent crap." Another common complaint was that the flavor was too sweet. But these are obviously jealous lies. Rockstar Juiced's label truthfully proclaims that it is "most powerful [and good tasting] energy drink."

With the taste tests done, I found myself $12.81 poorer and virally richer, as all tasters, myself included, drank out of the same cans. I also had seven half-empty containers of energy drink. In the name of journalism, I took it upon myself to test the effects of the reviewed energy drinks in their unified full-force. One by one, I drank each can. This final experiment entailed roughly 500 calories, 400 milligrams of caffeine and two tablespoons of backwash. The test resulted in stomach cramps, paranoia and shaking hands, though surprisingly not a lot of energy.

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