Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Canned Heat: A Guest Blog

Everyone, meet my brother. We'll call him Mule. Mule, everyone. Introductions aside, he lives in Minnesota, but does not snowboard, much less demolish rails. He tried skiing once and was not having it. He's more of a football guy. He reads my blog, but often has no idea what I'm talking about. He thinks a backside 180 is what happens when you have to turn and look at a girl's ass as she walks past.

Near as I can tell, he is attracted to energy drinks for their convenience and their taste (yes, he likes the taste) in spite of the near-foreign language spoken on their ingredient lists. As he mentions, I don't drink them often. I get them at movie premieres and give them to a friend as payment for rides up the mountain and work on my car. Currently, I have five energy drinks and four sodas that will serve as currency.

Past that, I will drink one on the occasional long drive. I generally opt to sip a sugar-free variety over a few hours. I do not think they have any place in snowboarding. I think they're best served for maintaining your consciousness and cranking out short, quick efforts, as in the weight room. Hence my posting in the summer, though he wrote this many months ago. Why waste any time on them? They're out there, might as well drop some knowledge. I lobbied for him to include water, coffee and beer in his experiment, but he declined. The following are the words of my esteemed sibling.

Want the other side of the story. Just ask Scotty Wittlake.

PS Mule also thinks Monster Rehab tastes like ass.

Every time I stay at the Yak’s house, I find various energy drinks in his fridge.  He explains to me that he gets these for free from snowboarding events, but doesn’t drink them very much so they just kind of accumulate.  That is, until I show up and drink them all over the course of a weekend.  Extreme sports and energy drinks going hand-in-hand, he asked me if I would write a guest blog reviewing some of the more popular choices.

The experiment:  I judged each drink for its energy and taste.  For some semblance of scientific control, I tried to limit myself to one a day:  between the end of my work day and the beginning of a workout.  There are no winners or losers except my motivation level (winner) and journalistic integrity (loser).

Red Bull

Aesthetic:  Basic. Everybody knows Red Bull by its packaging, so there’s no need to change.  I went with the standard 8.4 oz can, although Red Bull is also available in 12 oz cans and pounders.  The gas station was offering two pounders for $6, which seemed a bit excessive (What? You don’t have to drink them all at once?).  With the exception of Red Bull Cola, they have only one flavor.

Cultural Significance:  Spawned a $10B industry; multiple soccer and racing teams; Jagerbombs

Taste:  Relatively tame citrus flavor with little carbonation.  Combine that with the smaller can size and it’s easy to pound.

Energy Boost:  Not much in the way of what the FDA would consider “essential nutrients”—250% of B6, 100% B3, 80% B12, and 50% Pantothenic Acid, plus energy-standards caffeine and taurine.  Provided a nice opening boost; kept me going throughout the workout; perhaps worth mentioning that I found myself raking leaves in the dark when I got home.  Crashed hard about 4 hours after drinking.


Aesthetic:  The gothic can indicates it may appeal to a younger audience; indeed, Monster is catching up with Red Bull in terms of sales.  Also contributing to its growth is a wide variety of choices including juice and coffee hybrids and a line with infused nitrous oxide.  I went with the standard pounder; Monster is also available in 24-oz silos and the completely unnecessary 32-oz BFC (and you know what that stands for).

Cultural Significance:  Similar sponsorships of extreme athletes, Warped Tour, and X-Games, not to mention De-bo and Wee Man.  Also, this lawsuit from a huge fan of the Strange Brew movie.

Taste:  Super-sweet bubble-gum citrusy flavor, again with little carbonation.  Goes down smooth; before you know it the can is gone.  Maybe there’s a need for the BFC after all.

Energy Boost:  Hella vitamins!  200% B2, B3, B6, and B12; 1000 mg Taurine, and 2500 mg of an energy blend full of things I can’t pronounce.  The initial kick packs a wallop, which is a shame because I wasted it at work in my cubicle. A high peak, but a low plateau--I had no motivation to do anything after my workout.


Aesthetic:  The radio-friendly can design suggests it should have been called “Pop Star.”  Quite the variety of flavors, but not as many as Monster.

Cultural Significance:  The first to rip off Red Bull; several music tours; potentially overcompensating for homophobia

Taste:  The flavor, much like the can design, is bubble gum.  Heavy texture makes me feel like I’m drinking maple syrup.  Highly-carbonated for minimum slam-ability.  It’s definitely different, but that’s not always a good thing.

Energy Boost:  So many vitamins it made my pee look like Mountain Dew.  Comparable to Monster but with double the B2.  It didn’t kick in right away, but it still foiled my plans to eat only half of my Jimmy Johns Gargantuan.  Kept me extra wide-eyed throughout my workout.  Extra long-lasting buzz, if you can choke it down.


Aesthetic:  The can looks like something out of The Matrix with its tech-y font features.  Comes in a dozen flavors.  I didn’t know which was the standard flavor, so I chose a pounder of fruit punch.

Cultural Significance:  Official energy drink of the UFC.

Taste:  A ton of bite, and the super-tart fruitiness made me pucker a little.  I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had several flavors and they’re all delicious.  Difficult to slam; this is a savoring drink.

Energy Boost:  Zero B-vitamins, which I found strange, but high on taurine and ginseng.  No sugar and zero calories.  Not much of an initial boost.  Didn’t appear to give me any extra energy, but I wasn’t lethargic, either.  No buzz to speak of.  But damn is it tasty!

5-Hour Energy

Aesthetic:  A small two-ounce shot—hello my friend!  Now I don’t have to go through the hassle of all that drinking.

Cultural significance:  tiny serving sizes, marketing to cube-jockeys such as myself, under-produced and over-distributed commercials

Taste:  Pretty awful.  A flat berry flavor with an aftertaste that will make you look like the cop in Dumb and Dumber.  There’s a reason they don’t give you 16 oz. of this stuff.

Energy Boost:  2000% B6, 8333% B12 (that’s not a misprint), 1870 mg energy blend.  I was a bit drowsy when I took the shot, and it pepped me right up.  Was able to take a nap shortly afterwards, but got up and had immediate energy which included a tingling sensation in my fingers.  No crash to speak of.

These are only a few of the more popular brands.  On your own time, you can try others such as NOS, SnakeEyes, WhoopAss, and SLAP.  Almost every beverage distributor now has a line of energy drinks, so slam one before your next snowboard run and thank the Yak later.


  1. I'd like to see good old coffee head to head with these.

  2. I forgot my target audience was the Pacific Northwest.


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