Energy suckers

The buzz about five popular energy drinks

College means five years—four, if you’re lucky— of burn out, poverty and scary neighbors. Intelligence means less than endurance, ingenuity means less than perseverance, and noble purposes mean less than a good source of energy.

Hyper-caffeinated energy drinks with mega doses of vitamins, aren’t exactly good for you, but they promise heart palpitations and the ability to devote yourself to 72 hours of “Accounting, Theory and Practice.” Granted, when you do crash, you’ll feel like road kill, but college is about accepting pain.

To evaluate the virtues and demerits of five popular energy drinks, I formed a taste-testing panel of two friends and, well, me.

Mike Chunat, 22, works a vaguely defined job in boxing promotion and is a political science major at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Justin McCargar, is a 21-year old utilities locator and part-time musician.

The energy drinks, all bought from my local mini-mart, are Rockstar, sugar-free Red Bull, Monster, Blue Agave-Blue Demon Full Throttle and BooKoo Wildberry Shot.

Drink like a Rockstar
First and worst to my taste, Rockstar divided my panel. It garnered reactions ranging from fecal comparisons to confessions of true love. Sold in a 16-ounce can for about $2-$3 and decorated like the logo for a porn studio, Rockstar has a wide following among drunken dance-clubbers.

McCargar thought Rockstar took a highly cultured palate to enjoy.

“It has a sour, bitter, sweet taste,” he said. “I love it, not that someone of your low social status would know.”

Lowly scribe that I am, I thought it tasted like a sugary penny. Yes, I tasted a penny to make sure. Chunat described it as fruit-flavored excrement.

On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the worst:

Taste: 1.5

Buzzability: 4.5

Bull market
Next on our list was the grizzled old veteran of energy drinks, Red Bull. Just to make sure everything looks unfair and biased, I bought a sugar-free version (8.3 ounces for about $2-$3).

Maybe the missing calories are why it got comparatively sedate reviews. I found it as a generic mixture of bitter, sour and sweet, while Chunat also labeled it as average. McCargar said it reminded him of Rockstar but without the bitterness.

Taste: 2.5

Buzzability: 3

Monster madness
Monster garnered the most varied reviews. Running about $2.50 for 16 ounces, Monster is probably the most popular caffeine bomb among Reno students.

“It’s like fruit punch Kool-Aid without enough water added in,” said Chunat.

McCargar didn’t like it as much, calling it carbonated baby medicine. I thought it tasted like blackberries.

Taste: 3

Buzzability: 4.5

Full Throttle Blue Agave-Blue Demon comes in a racy-looking blue can, complete with flames and gothic script. It’s huge, 16 ounces, and yours for about 2 bucks.

“It tastes like rotten blueberries,” said Chunat.

McCargar had kinder words for it.

“It’s smooth and has a lot of berry taste,” he said.

The blueberry taste is so faithful, it even captures that slightly bitter powdery taste of real blueberry skin, which is weird since it’s supposed to taste like agave. It’s better with the carbonation shaken out.

Taste: 4

Buzzability: 3.5

Take a Shot
Next up is BooKoo Wildberry Shot. This small can of chemical stimulants, only 5.75 ounces for $1.25-$2, proved one of the most popular energy drinks on our panel.

“That’s pretty good,” McCargar said. “It tastes like carbonated Gatorade or maybe a bit like sparkling cider.”

Chunat reserved one of his least scathing reports for BooKoo.

“It tastes like bitter, crappy Red Bull,” he said.

BooKoo was deemed the victor in this contest of super stimulants.

Taste: 4.5

Buzzability: 3.0 (likely due to its small serving size)

As for these drinks’ effects on us, Chunat was visibly shaking after five minutes, and I stayed up until 6 a.m. reading a trivia book. Just hope it works that well for Accounting 101.