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Tornado Energy Drinks: Storm, Active, and Ice (Big Lots)

Bottle of Tornado Storm Energy Drink, sitting on a Big Lots shelf
Inspired use of a resealable cap! More energy drinks should have it, but none should taste like this.
The first thing I thought about when I saw a bottle of Tornado energy drink was just how bizarre it is that more of them don’t come in plastic bottles.  I kinda get the 8 oz. cans being in cans, because they’re more for guzzling quick, but I tend to break 16 oz. cans down into two servings, and by the second day, they’re always flat.  Granted, I drink them anyway, but I know a good number of people that won’t even look at them if they don’t have carbonation, so they tend to throw them away.  I guess that doesn’t really effect the manufacturer much–after all, they already have their money–but I like to think that some actually care about what the consumer thinks (they don’t).

Anyway, I break mine down because I just don’t need that much caffeine.  And assuming it’s not a diet, or “zero” drink, I sure as hell don’t need that much sugar all at once.  The average can has somewhere around 50g in 16 oz. and if I drank all that, Monday through Friday, I’m pretty sure I’d be a diabetic by Wednesday.  Besides, the only thing that happens when it goes flat is that the carbonation merely disappears.  Other than that, it tastes exactly the same and has the same caffeine content, so it doesn’t bother me.  This was just a longwinded way of saying I like that I can just screw the cap back on and lock in the freshness for another day.  There, I said it, and it only took me two paragraphs.

I was more excited than usual to try this, because Big Lots was out of energy drinks for a full two weeks before getting these in, and so I eagerly grabbed a couple different flavors and loaded them into my cart.  Unlike a lot of the beverages that seem to find their way to Big Lots shelves, I liked that this one was clearly labeled, so there was no confusion as to what I was getting.  “Storm” doesn’t describe the flavor too well, but it was an intriguing enough title that I wanted to give it a go (note: since then, I’ve discovered that the flavor is described on the back of the bottle, toward the very bottom).  The fact each bottle was only $.50, along with the knowledge that they were selling out fast really helped to solidify the decision for me, so I grabbed one.

I actually went back to get more a couple of days later, but they were sold out.  As it turns out, though, it was a good thing, because Storm pretty much sucks.  It takes the “standard” energy drink flavor, and throws in a ton of extra tartness; usually, this is counterbalanced with something not quite as tart, but here, it’s not.  What there is, is a severely watered-down back-end that tastes almost diety, leading to a nearly-pungent aftertaste.  But while it may avoid being called “disgusting” by the slimmest of margins, it’s still nowhere close to being considered “good”.

It still gets some marks for value–after all, fifty cents for a full-size energy beverage is pretty much unheard of–and it still retains its marks for the incredibly novel plastic bottle.  I had some left over after the first day, screwed on the cap, and had plenty of carbonation for the second go ‘round, which was a welcome addition.  Unfortunately, the poor taste and even worse aftertaste ultimately combine to do this one in.

Overall: 4/10.  The plastic bottle with screw-on cap is way niftier than it should be (seriously, why don’t more energy drinks use them?), but this is done in with a strong tartness that’s only counterbalanced with a watered-down back-end that leads to a nearly pungent aftertaste that makes you want to shave off your taste buds one by one.  It does get marks for value, as they are a mere $.50 at Big Lots stores, but no matter how inexpensive something is, if it tastes like crap, it’s not much of a value. I’d avoid this one unless in a serious bind.

A bottle of Tornado Active Energy Drink, held inside a man's hand
An improvement over “Storm”, but still not good.
Even after trying the terrible “Storm” version outlined above, I was still pretty excited to try Tornado’s “Active” energy beverage.  The back of the bottle reveals that it’s “tropical flavored energy”, and if there’s any kind of broad flavors that I like, it’s the flavor of tropical fruits.  I was also figuring that the sweetness would help to offset the disgustingly-overwhelming tartness of their previously-reviewed offering.

It smells tropical enough, with a nice sweetness that reminded me of bubblegum at first, before giving way to a fruity sweetness.  It’s hard to tell exactly what it is that I was smelling, because there isn’t an ounce of actual fruit juice, nor any fruit flavors explicitly listed–all we get is the mysterious “natural flavors” BS that’s typically found in cheap energy drinks.  But it smelled good enough that, despite all that, I was still looking forward to digging right in.

I will give it that the taste is much better than “Storm”, but there’s still that pesky tartness that feels even more out of place here (though it’s also a little more subdued).  The first flavor is a pleasant sweetness that dances on the tongue initially, but that’s when the uninvited tartness settles in, causing everything to come crashing down, and leading up to an unnecessarily sour finish.  Again, the bottle situation works to its advantage, so points must be given for that, along with the $.50 asking price at Big Lots stores.  But while this is a minor improvement over “Storm”, it still wouldn’t be my first choice for an energy drink.  Nor my tenth.  Nor my fiftieth.

Overall: 5/10.  It’s a little bit better than “Storm”, but this tropical-themed drink still has an unnecessary tartness that ruins what actually starts off as enticingly sweet.  The smell reminded me of bubblegum, and the initial flavor is a welcome combination of unidentifiable but tropical-y flavors–until the sour rush comes in, essentially ruining what could have been a delicious drink.  Points must be given for the cool, recappable plastic bottle that locks in freshness for multiple servings, as well as the low $.50 price point, but even keeping those in mind, there are plenty of better energy drinks on the market.  In a bind, this will work–otherwise, stay away.

A stock image of Tornado Ice Energy Drink, from Big Lots
An intriguing concept with decent execution.
Once again they have these available at Big Lots!  I missed out on trying the “Ice” version last time, because they didn’t have it, so I jumped on it this time!  The one problem with that is that I’m not supposed to have grapefruit (I take simvastatin for hereditary high cholesterol), and I didn’t notice until I brought it home that this is a mix of “grapefruit and lemon”.  Whoops.  But there’s no actual juice in it (it comes in the form of “natural flavors”), so I figure there’s probably not enough to do serious damage.  Let’s hope I’m right. [nervous laughter]

Anyway, if I wouldn’t have read the label before opening the bottle, I certainly would have noticed the presence of the grapefruit just by taking a sniff—it smells overwhelmingly of the fruit.  That was rather disappointing to me, because grapefruit is a pretty tart and unsweet fruit by itself, and I didn’t want something that was going to taste like that straight up.  And lemon isn’t a real sweet fruit on its own either, so I was really starting to doubt where this was headed.

Thankfully, it has plenty of sweetness in it, though even knowing what the flavor is supposed to be, it’s kind of hard to detect it in action.  There’s a brief, initial burst of grapefruit, and then it all just gets lost in a tangy little mass of citrus that I guess is supposed to be the lemon.  Really, the two fruits don’t mesh together all that well, but it’s still very drinkable assuming you’re just in it for an energy kick—at least the weird taste manages to be well balanced, as it’s neither too tart, nor too grapefruity.

But this is called “ice” for a reason, and you’ll find out a little ways in to this whole affair, as a creepy mint aftertaste starts creeping up on you.  It doesn’t happen immediately–in fact, it literally took me a couple minutes after I finished the can to even realize it.  By that time, I’d totally forgot that this was called “ice” and was starting to panic as to why there was suddenly a minty taste in my mouth.  The next day, after I drank the leftovers and had it happen again, is when I finally pieced everything together.  It’s really a crazy feeling, and not one that I can say I’ve experienced before.

This is clearly the best of the varieties in the Tornado energy line, whose major claim to fame (at least in my eyes) is that they are housed in 16 oz. plastic soda bottles. Normally that wouldn’t be very cool, but it’s different for energy drinks, and it’s a welcome addition to be able to pop on a lid and seal in the carbonation if I stretch it into two servings.   In other words, it’s good if you’re looking for a fruity flavor rather than the standard energy drink taste, and while the flavor itself is unremarkable, the frosty aftertaste is certainly unique enough to recommend giving it a go.

Overall: 6/10. A rather bizarre blend of grapefruit and lemon that tastes like a scattered mess. To elaborate, if you weren’t told what the taste was on the packaging, you’d have a hell of a time figuring it out.  It does smell strongly of grapefruit, and also tastes that way for a split second, before the tartness of the lemon taste kicks in and muddles everything.  To top it all off, there’s a weird mint aftertaste that creeps in slowly.  It also has 142 mg per bottle, so there’s enough here to give you a kick for at least a couple hours, and 50 g of sugar per can, which is standard for this kind of drink (and yet still rather excessive).  They are available for $.50 at Big Lots stores, so there’s definitely some value to be had—which is the main reason, along with the intriguing inclusion of mint, that it scores above a five…I certainly wouldn’t spend over a dollar on this stuff, but worth a look for the intrigued.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Random Blog

    I liked the Tornado Energy Active one the best. Tornado Energy Ice is the worst of the three.

  2. atom

    I liked it the best simply because it was the most different. But the whole Tornado line certainly has a huge advantage in packaging. I'm still at a loss as to why more energy drink companies don't utilize bottles with screw-on lids…

  3. Unknown

    I just tried the active, found one bottle at big lots, it was great !!

  4. atom

    I was not a fan, as you already knew, haha. But I still see these show up from time-to-time at Big Lots, so I may give it another shot. I did buy Ice again not too long ago and actually liked it a bit more, since I knew what to expect.

    I may just revisit the other flavors. Maybe they just caught me in an off mood.

  5. Unknown

    Does anyone know where to buy tornado energy drinks currently

  6. atom

    Good question, Carole. I don't think you can. I looked everywhere and didn't see any current offers, and Tornado Energy's Facebook page stops posting at the end of last year (Dec. 31st, 2016). They did seem to have some for sale on Amazon UK, but by the time you paid postage to the States, it's probably not even worth it.

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