Red Bull Presents The Human Guinea Pig #2

So, Jalen has been sick all week, culminating in an all-day Saturday sick-fest, keeping me anchored to the computer, while I hide out from his germs. Just f*ckin’ around, reading the bootleg for the 12th time, when I found your Fast Food column. Man, I was dyin’ just trying to get thru w/o laughing too hard, thereby waking up the boy.

Good lookin’ out on the chicken parmesan subway thang. I’d been eyeballing it for a minute, but now I think I’ll take a pass and stick to my usual roasted chicken breast slathered in their phenomenally underrated southwest sauce.

I remember it was an old SSS that inspired me to try the Spicy Chicken Tender Crisp at BK and you didn’t let me down…ergo, I’ll avoid the Angus ‘shroom at your urging. However, if you feel the need for a fast food sequel, why not hit up their “Chicken Fries”. A new take on chicken tenders? I’m intrigued…but, you first.

I, too, am a Taco Bell fiend and after years of working my way up and down the menu, I’ve gotten stuck on variations of either the #6 (2 beef chalupa surpremes, 1 taco) or a mix n’ match bag of beef n’ potato burritos and grande soft tacos from the (relatively) new value menu. We’ll have to wait until next spring for the return of the chicken club chalupa, however. And, much love for your accurate portrayal of the last “mass” of nachos that congeals together at the very end.

Anyways, it’s Sat. night and all my friends are single and out drinking, so I thought I’d let a brutha know that HGP #1 was an excellent read and I’m lookin’ forward to your venture into energy drinks (another fave thang of mine). Just avoid “Monster”. Imagine 2 packets of Equal spread over your armpit…now take a lick.

That_Bootleg_Guy

Compared to some of the alternatives, Monster isn’t horrible, per se, and actually, since they had it in lieu of Red Bull at the bar I used to DJ at, I became quite accustomed to it. More on that in a few…

The Austrian-made Red Bull started it all, with its introduction into the world market in the past two decades, not only making it the most successful energy drink (grabbing over two-thirds of the market share), but also doubling as a very popular mixer. Red Bull and vodka, although discouraged by numerous physicians and nutritionists, is a wonderful drink, and the Jägerbomb is one of the most popular “shots” amongst the yuppie/meathead crowd. Okay, okay… I sort of like them too, but I would feel about as dirty ordering one as I would anything containing amaretto.

One might make a parallel between Red Bull and the cola drinks of the late 19th century. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were originally marketed as elixirs to help cure infirmities such as stomach pain, headache, and impotence, just as Red Bull was introduced to provide one with a boost of sometimes much-needed energy and to help cure physical and mental fatigue. Just as Coke and Pepsi soon became consumed as a mainstream, or recreational beverage, so is Red Bull, as exemplified by the fact that it is being used as a mixer at thousands of bars and clubs all over the world. In fact, one particular competitor, known as Roaring Lion, offers bar owners a much more economically sound alternative in that it sells its beverage in the form of a concentrated syrup, to be used with the bartender’s seltzer tap. This saves bar owners plenty of money, as Red Bull still only come pre-mixed in the can or bottle at a much higher price. Roaring Lion tastes virtually identical to Red Bull, and when mixed with alcohol, it may as well be the same exact thing. If you’ve gone to a bar and asked for a Red Bull drink, at which time the bartender shot it out of his or her seltzer gun, you were drinking Roaring Lion. Sucker.

Aside from its superior marketing campaign, Red Bull is the leader of the pack for other reasons. Not only does it possess a cool, crisp taste (although the first time you drink it you may be turned off just because it does have taste characteristics unlike conventional soft drinks), but it actually works. I have tried several imitators, but Red Bull still works the best. I can have a mother of a hangover and one (sometimes two) Red Bulls will have me working just fine. In fact, I was sent to a training module for work, just a few weeks back, and after drinking a Red Bull I did not fall asleep. This was the first time that such an incident did not occur.

Yes, this time I’ll be consuming and comparing a whole slew of contenders in the burgeoning energy-drink arena. The original plan was to drink all of these at the same time, although fearing that that would cause me to jump through the ceiling, and would make it damn near impossible to sit down to write a column, I opted against it. Instead, I decided to grade the taste and effectiveness of each energy drink, trying one or two every day over the course of 10 days. Seeing as the drinks were the variable, I assumed a constant in that I would consume each energy drink in the morning, right after waking up—with a minor hangover. At the end of each night, before going to sleep, I drank two shots of Jim Beam and two cans of Miller High Life; not enough to leave me comatose in the morning, but enough to put me gently to sleep and cause me to drag ass at the work the next day.1 These are usually the scenarios that see me purchasing an energy drink. I will not be reviewing Red Bull, because most of you have tried it at least once, and because of the fact that I can say that it works the best and tastes better than just about anything else out there. Ditto with Roaring Lion. Also, I will be rating each item on how good it tastes, as well as how well it works.

The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and are not to be attributed to InsidePulse.com, Alexander Lucard, Widro, or Warren Woo.

ROCKSTAR
Price: $2.39
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving: 110

Rockstar could possibly rise to Red Bull-type levels if they continue to advertise something fierce like they’ve been doing. The reason being is because not only does two servings of Rockstar cost 50 cents more than one serving of Red Bull, but also because it tastes very, very similar to Red Bull. It has the same bitter, yet refreshing taste, which may turn some off due to the medicinal essence, which is nothing too bad. Fans of Red Bull will more than likely enjoy Rockstar, not only because it tastes similar, but because it packs a f*cking wallop. I was working at a very good pace for the majority of the morning, and my buzz was still with me after lunch. I highly recommend this for fans of Red Bull, and would love to try it as a mixer.

Rating:
Taste: 8
Potency: 8.5

HANSEN’S ENERGY PRO
Price: $2.59
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving: 120

Hansen’s, which, apparently owns the Monster empire, produced this drink before Monster, and after tasting this, I know why they decided to branch out. Energy Pro tastes like either a more syrupy version of lemon-lime Kool-Aid, or like flat Green River. It’s only minimally carbonated, which does it no justice at all, making it taste like it was originally properly carbonated, but then left out for hours causing it to lose its fizz. Plus, the aftertaste it left had my stomach turning for most of the morning (or maybe that was the alcohol I’d drunk the night before, although I think not).

Despite the fact that it tasted like a can of lime anus, it did keep me going for most of the morning, to go along with the stomachache. After eating some lunch, my condition subsided and I wasn’t ready to pass out, so potency-wise it’s pretty decent.

Rating:
Taste: 3
Potency: 7

MONSTER
Price:$2.39
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving:120

Aside from Red Bull, Monster has got a pretty decent lock on the market, competing with the up-and-coming Rockstar energy drink. As aforementioned by That_Bootleg_Guy, it’s very saccharin, and has an odd, sickly sweet taste to it. Up until this column, I hadn’t had Monster since the summer, and I remember that the first time I had it was at this shitty dive bar at which I used to DJ, because they were too cheap to buy Red Bull. Since I always had to work very early that previous next morning, I would usually down a couple of the 16-ounce cans after my usual beer and shot quota had been met. At first it tasted like crap, but then I slowly became used to it. Do not confuse this with me liking it…

So this was the first time since summer that I had had Monster, and whatever resistance I had built up to it is no longer there. Yes, it does taste better than Hansen’s Energy Pro, although I have had acid reflux that tastes better than Hansen’s Energy Pro. I tried to pound the thing, but the sugary taste had me stopping about a third of the way into it. If Red Bull (and Rockstar, which will be profiled later) could be likened to beer, this would be Mike’s Hard Lemonade. In other words, yes, it does get the job done the same as the others, and it’s probably more palatable to those who are not used to energy drinks (as alcopops are more palatable to those who’ve never had beer), but when all is said and done, it’s junk. Monster also comes in a lo-carb version (with a blue “M” logo instead of the green one as pictured above), which I tried as well, and it tastes almost exactly the same, except it’s actually a little less sweet. Monster Assault is yet another permutation that has a reddish color and tastes like Monster mixed with ginger beer. If you can get past the herbal taste, it’s actually a little bit better than the green one.

In re potency, the Monster Web site describes the drink as “a wicked mega hit that delivers twice the buzz of a regular energy drink.” This is sort of a lie, though, as the reason why one can deliver “twice the buzz” is because it contains two servings. However, it did keep me going for a good part of the morning, but I would have rather drunk two cans of Red Bull.

Rating:

Monster (original)
Taste: 4.5
Potency: 7.5

Monster (lo-carb)
Taste: 5
Potency: 7.5

Monster Assault
Taste: 5.5
Potency: 7.5

SOBE ADRENALINE RUSH
Price: $1.99
Servings per can: 1
Calories per serving: 140

(NB: The following review does not cover the sugar-free version, pictured above with the regular version)

SoBe Adrenaline Rush is available at just about every store that sells Red Bull, alongside the aforementioned Amp and Monster. SoBe is company known for its bottled juice drinks, so it’s only fitting that this beverage would taste like fruit, and actually, it tastes pretty damn good. I wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly what it was, assuming some sort of berry and possibly grapefruit, however, after checking out the Sobe Adrenaline Rush official website, I found out that it’s actually passion fruit. It’s a very refreshing drink that, like all energy drinks, is much better when served ice cold. This was one of the few products that I tried in which I was able to pound the entire thing in a matter of seconds.

As far as the potency of the stuff, I downed the can first thing in the morning, and then proceeded to take a shower. After that, one of the first things I wanted to do was go back to bed, and I was only slightly less lethargic at work. Hey, at least it has 100% of the Daily Value of vitamin C.

Rating:
Taste: 9
Potency: 3

SOBE NO FEAR
Price: $2.69
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving: 130

Yet another energy drink from SoBe, No Fear comes in a bigger can and uses the logo and corporate identity of that stupid clothing brand that I always thought was stupid, even when everyone else thought it wasn’t. It touts the fact that it contains creatine (otherwise known as acetic acid), a performance agent, which is naturally present in humans and animals, that helps to supply energy to muscles. It is also a supplement that a lot of high-school athletes use to get all artificially big and huge when they should be going through the natural awkwardness of puberty like normal people, myself included.

Like the aforementioned Adrenaline energy drink, SoBe No Fear tastes very fruity, with the definite presence of passion fruit, and probably pear. It’s good stuff, although it does contain a more medicinal taste than Adrenaline, but it’s nothing repugnant. However, where Adrenaline does not deliver in the energy boost department, No Fear gives you a nice boost. Considering that there are two servings in the can, this isn’t particularly outstanding, but I was going pretty well up until lunch, when it fizzled and I had to have a coffee.

Rating:
Taste: 8
Potency: 5

RUSH! ENERGY
Price: $1.99
Servings per can: 1
Calories per serving: 120

Rush! Energy is manufactured by the Monarch Beverage Company, which also makes such super-drinks as All Sport, Dad’s Root Beer, and Moxie. In fact, it was one of the first energy drinks to offer a tap version, and is available in the 500mL can. It’s only slightly carbonated, to the point where it’s almost not. Actually, I think the carbonation would do it some justice, as an overly syrupy taste is much more noticeable without the bubbles to cover it up. Despite the fact that Monarch touts it as having a “refreshing citrus flavor to combat the overly medicinally tasting competitors,” it tastes sort of like a mix between flat Mountain Dew and this medicine I used to have to take for bronchitis. It also leaves an odd aftertaste that I had to get rid of by gargling Fresca once I got to work.

Despite the fact that it tastes relatively funky, Rush! Energy works pretty well, as I was noticeably wired until lunch, at which time I wasn’t left feeling listless. Seeing as this is about what I was going for, I’d say this one works pretty well. It may have something to do with the 100% Daily Value of niacin, which, while not very good for my liver, does a damn good job of energizing.

Rating:
Taste: 4
Potency: 8.5

FULL THROTTLE
Price: $2.49
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving: 110

Manufactured by soft drink juggernaut Coca-Cola, Full Throttle is currently being marketing very intensively, with billboards, posters, and full-page magazine ads all over the place; however, is this all justified, or is it just a clever ruse to try and sell a bum product to the masses? Coca-Cola certainly wanted to try and shed the medicinal stigma of the energy drink by making a beverage that tastes fruity, like a mixture of grapefruit and passion fruit with a strong essence of nectarine. I love the taste of this, and think that it would mix really well with rum.

Potency-wise, I would probably need to drink two 16-ounce cans in order to get the sufficient amount of energy from this stuff. As aforementioned, it tastes really good, and is very refreshing; however, it didn’t really do much to keep me going throughout the day. It was better than some of the others, but there are some real stinkers that I tried.

Rating:
Taste: 9.5
Potency: 3.5

SHOCK WAVE
Price: $1.99
Servings per can: 2
Calories per serving: 130

First of all, I was pretty excited to get 473mL for the price 250mL, and to top it off, you get 200% of your Daily Value of niacin in here, which does wonders for the metabolism. Plus, the stuff tastes pretty damn good, with just the right amount of carbonation paired with hints of passion fruit and possibly pear. Very good.

The potency leaves nothing to be desired, as the 16-ounce can had me doing back-flips at the work. Well, not literally, but I did run from my car to the front door and did not get the least bit tired, and my buzz was still going after lunch.

Rating:
Taste: 8.5
Potency: 8.5

LOST FIVE-O
Price: $2.59
Servings per can:2
Calories per serving: 70

At first I was going to review the other drink by Lost Enterprises (a skating/surfing/apparel company based in Southern California), but I really can’t remember much about it except for the fact that it tasted like a mix between a more sugary Monster (it is manufactured for Lost by Monster) and that smell that you get in the back of your nasal cavity when you fall and hit the back of your head on something. Yech… Then, while I was stocking up for this column I noticed that Lost had another energy drink, called “Five-O,” which is a mix of energy fuel and juice. Although I was a bit hesitant due to my first Lost experience, I figured that I’m The Human Guinea Pig, and due to that handle, I am required to consume things that might suck, so why the f*ck not? According to the can, this beverage contains a mixture of the juices of apple, orange, pear, peach, tangerine, pineapple and white grape, with the orange, pineapple and grape being the most recognizable. In other words, it tastes like a wonderful, fruity extravaganza (kind of like an Erasure concert), and more than makes up for the abomination that is the other Lost energy drink.

Due to the fact that the can contains two servings, and I drank the entire thing, it’s difficult to tell whether or not one serving would have done the trick; however, few people would drink only half the can and throw the other away or save it for later. That said, I’m going to consider the entire can to be what you’d normally drink, and therefore, it works awesomely. I was energized for a good length of my shift and did not feel like I was wired on something. Considering that this is a Monster product, I can safely say that this is the best drink that Monster makes. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t put their own name on it.

Rating:
Taste: 9
Potency: 8.5

RIP-IT
Price: $5.99 (8-pk)
Servings per can: 1
Calories per serving: 130

I’d never heard of this stuff until happening upon it at a local Target. They come in short, eight-ounce cans (like those mini-Pepsi cans that you can buy in a six-pack). The first thing I noticed after opening one of these is that they smell very sweet, and upon drinking this stuff I’ve hypothesized that a continual consumption of it will strip the enamel right off your teeth. It has a bit of a tutti-frutti taste, combined with a hint of Squirt. This is even sweeter than Monster.

In re the potency of the stuff, I drank it at 8am and was already dragging ass about two hours later. Had I known, I would have grabbed two cans. Then again, I shouldn’t have to do that all the time. In fact, the boost that I did feel was more like a sugar high than a caffeine high, which is completely understandable given the taste.

The reason why they sell this in eight-packs is because it would more than likely take all of them to give you a proper energy boost. Plus, if they sold them individually, and you bought one, you’d soon realize how ineffective it was, and you wouldn’t buy another seven. It’s a dirty trick!

Rating:
Taste: 4
Potency: 3

AMP
Price: $1.99
Servings per can: 1
Calories per serving: 120

“From the makers of Mountain Dew,” this energy drink is one of the most ubiquitous (after the obvious), at least here in the Midwest. It’s only available in the 248mL (hey, that’s what the can says) size, and is also available in four-packs at most grocery and department stores. While painfully sweet, it’s one of the easiest ones to pound without having to stop to make a face. It’s not much sweeter than Mountain Dew, so if you like that (which I really don’t unless it’s with pizza), you’ll probably love this. The only thing that’s a little odd is that it’s a bit more syrupy than Mountain Dew, which is pretty damn syrupy itself.

As far as the potency goes, I really didn’t feel any different than if I had drunk a bottle of Mountain Dew, which probably would have been more economically sound as it’s not only cheaper, but you get more.

Rating:
Taste: 6
Potency: 3

YJ STINGER
Price: $2.09
Servings per can: 1
Calories per serving: 130

If you’ve watched wrestling in the past five years, you’ve seen commercials for Stacker 2, as well as the energy drink by NVE Pharmaceuticals, called YJ Stinger. Like most energy drinks, it contains taurine and usual ingredients, along with what’s called “B-Stack,” a blend of 6 different B-vitamins that really scared me at first. I picked it up at a local Speedway, where it came in both Enraged Raspberry and some fruit-punch flavor. I went with the raspberry one (picture above in the blue can), which is quite possibly the best-tasting energy drink I have ever had. While it may be a bit sweet, it doesn’t make your teeth hurt (supra Monster, Lost Energy Drink, et al.), and tastes exactly like a blue freeze-pop. I drank it in about two minutes, and it left no discernable aftertaste.

Potency-wise, it’s the shit. It wired me pretty well, as I was actually hyper, climbing the walls and singing along with the radio; treating my co-workers to my karaoke-esque renditions of “Mr. Jones” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (inserting “I am WATCHING you through a CAMERA,” à la Artie Ziff). I was jittery, but not in a bad way. If I had drunk this to stay awake in a meeting, it would have probably been torture trying to sit still. But damn good stuff, indeed.

Rating:
Taste: 9.5
Potency: 9.5

That does it for my exploration into the world of energy drinks. My body feels like shit, so I hope you enjoyed it. Join me in the next edition of The Human Guinea Pig, where I’ll be disgracing my heritage and reviewing a bunch of Mexican candy. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Cheers
-JF2k5!

1 As a result of doing this over the past two weeks, my body feels like shit. I’m not quite sure if this is from all of the liquor or all of the energy drinks, as both are probably not very good for me. That’s why this column is late. However, if you are familiar with my work, you’re aware that my punctuality leaves something to be desired.