UPDATE (Nov. 2020): The price of these continues to go up, rising to $.79 in 2019, then to $.99 a little while after that; as of now, it’s up to $1.09. The rating has been adjusted accordingly, and updated notes are in italics.
It had been a while since I set foot in an Aldi store prior to my visit last month, and as I was getting ready to check out, my gaze naturally wandered to the “impulse buys” section. It had the usual suspects: gum, “travel” packs of peanuts, batteries, etc., as well as their standard energy shots, which they’ve had for years, and which I have reviewed in the past. But among the familiar shots were a new kind with darker packaging that I had not noticed before. Not only was it grape, a new flavor that I hadn’t tried, but it was also an “extra strength” variety, for the same paltry 69 cent price tag of the regular. “Alright, Aldi, you win,” I sighed to myself as I put it with my other products on the belt.
As I’ve stated in many reviews before, I tend to enjoy the energy drink cans a lot more, because you feel like (and you are) getting a lot more liquid for your buck. But sometimes you just want a concentrated, quick blast of energy that gets started right away, so with that in mind I’ve started getting these a little bit more often. You never know when you’ll get hit with a sudden overwhelming attack of tired at work, or upon coming home, only to realize you have a night full of activities ahead of you to slog through. These are the times when a shot is preferred much more over a full-size can, because of the almost-immediate relief. Besides, I was just as interested to try the grape flavor as I was the added caffeine content.
The taste, for me, provides a nice kick of nostalgia. Does anyone remember Dimetapp? It was a liquid medicine that was the only delicious one in a sea of gag-inducing “tussins” and syrups. I don’t remember what it was used to “cure” (a quick Internet search reveals cough and cold), and I don’t even remember if it actually worked, but I never minded my ailments as long as there was a bottle of that stuff in our house. This has a very similar flavor, which is similarly marketed as “grape” and has vague similarities to the purple fruit (like a light purple color), but otherwise isn’t very accurate at all. What it is, though, is sweet and smooth and it goes down easily, whether you gulp it down all at once, or take it in halves (or even “quarters”, as I find myself doing to stretch out the energy rush; being sensitive to caffeine has its advantages after all).
Much like the original version, this stuff works. I can’t say for sure whether I think it works “longer”, or “stronger”, to justify the “extra strength” connotation, but it does get to work pretty quickly, giving me a nice kick in the pants that noticeably seems to last me about two hours. Best of all, even when the obvious effects are gone, the sugar-free formula doesn’t leave me feeling even groggier and more tired than I initially did after the energy wears off (like what used to happen to me with the heavily-sugared cans).
Actually, I think the “best of all” should be reserved for its price tag, which I must once again remind you is a mere 69 cents has gone up $.40, rising to its current price of $1.09. While it’s true that the price of goods are rising pretty much everywhere – especially this year – other brands have still managed to keep the cost of their shots at the $1 mark, taking this down from a “steal”, to just a solid “deal”. Also a concern: with the cost seeming to rise every few months, how high will it continue to climb?
Regardless of that, the formula remains unchanged, and thus it is still highly recommended; just not as enthusiastically as before.
Overall: 8.5/10 (-1.5). The best deal in energy is no more: following rather brisk rate hikes from $.69 to $.79, then $.79 to $.99 within the span of a few months, these have gone up once again to $1.09. They still taste better than most shots, and work very well, but considering the price has gone up $.40 within the span of a year, they aren’t quite as phenomenal a deal as they used to be. Hence the reasoning for the adjusted rating. I enjoy the fake grape flavor, because it reminds me of a grape cough medicine I used to take as a kid. It’s sweet, without being overly syrupy, and goes down smooth. But even if you don’t have the same affinity for the flavor that I do, it gets to work pretty quickly, and is a mere 69 CENTS, making them not only one of the best deals in energy, as I stated in my review, but also quite possibly one of the best deals within the walls of Aldi, period. Since it’s sugar free, there’s also no noticeable crash once the effects wear off. Each 2 oz. bottle contains a respectable 230 mg of caffeine (putting them on par with many name-brand sugar-free energy beverages), as well as a ridiculous 8,333% of vitamin B12 (and 2,000% of vitamin B6) meaning it delivers in all the right places. I want to find some kind of fault with it so I don’t have to give it a perfect score but…did I mention it’s only 69 FREAKIN’ CENTS?!