I was at Dollar Tree the other day when I stumbled upon two energy drinks that I had not seen before, buried deep in the back corner of the cooler, along with the individual-sized milk and juices. It was actually one of two energy drinks I discovered back there, and since we already took a look at the first one, it seems that it’s only fitting that we take a look at the other one.
Unlike Noo Fuzion’s attempt, which is made by Bang, a company that is quickly growing in popularity among energy fiends for their 300mg, sugar-free energy drinks (and no doubt by frat boys who just love the name), this one is actually made by an unknown company called “Emerge”. Which is fitting since that’s the name on the can. It, too, is marketed as a “pre-workout” beverage, and also contains a whopping 300mg of caffeine, which is good value in terms of the $1.25 asking price.
Opening up the can and I was immediately blasted with the scent I was more or less expecting: an almost sickeningly sweet mixture of candylike strawberries and lemonade. I actually found it inviting, although others would no doubt be immediately put off by it. I mean, it’s a drink made up entirely of “natural” and “artificial” flavors (as opposed to actual juice), so what else could one expect?
Drinking it, unfortunately, is another matter altogether.
Is it a requirement for “pre-workout” drinks to completely suck? (Note that the “pre-workout” designation is in quotes because I highly doubt there’s anything extra in these to boost your workout results, that you can’t already find in typical energy drinks.) I mean, I’ve never tried any (although I have been tempted to give RedLine a shot), but both of them that I’ve had now follow the same formulaic experience: It starts off really sweet, giving you the taste that you’re expecting based off the aroma, and then once it hits the tastebuds in the back of the throat, the flavor turns into something bitter and unpleasant. It’s weird, though, because the transformation only happens as it’s going down, like it’s specially formulated to catch you off guard and make you regret it just as it’s too late to spit it out.
The curious thing about this one, though, is that the taste seems to literally morph. There’s not only the cough syrupy bitterness, but the entire formula seems to taste completely different. It’s hard to explain, but it’s kind of like a stale version of itself, without any hint of sweetness whatsoever. I’ve had other energy drinks (and shots) that do this, but the actual flavor more or less stays the same; it’s just the bitter characteristic that shines through. But this one turns into a more “evil” flavor that doesn’t really help in conjunction with the harsh taste.
I must admit that I didn’t have as much trouble forcing this one down as I did Bang’s attempt, so there’s that, but it still wasn’t an easy endeavor: I made it through roughly half the can before calling it quits. From that half can I had, I will also confess that it really did give me a noticeable kick: It didn’t make me want to fill up a gallon jug of water, drive to the nearest gym in my convertible, and lift weights as loudly as possible, but it did help me get through a workday without even feeling all that tired, so it has to earn points for that.
Once again, though, just how much of a positive that is depends on your tolerance for gross-tasting liquids.
Overall: 3.5/10. This one is slightly better than Noo Fuzion’s Mango Bango, but not by much at all. The basic formula is the same: a perfectly sweet scent (and initial taste) that suddenly gives way to a bitter finish as it hits the back of the throat. The flavor of this one literally seems to morph into something darker, unlike a majority of these which seem to just add some bitterness; nevertheless, I still found it to be a little bit easier to force down compared to other drinks I’ve had. If you’re desperate for a kick, and don’t mind a gross taste, this will certainly give you that and at a great price. However, there are much better options for the more discerning energy drinker.