Thanks to Dollar General stores literally being placed in every city, no matter how big or small, we have ended up with one right at the end of our neighborhood. Well, we ended up with it a few years ago,but we’ve just started going there a little more frequently. I don’t know why: it’s the type of place you feel like you need to take a shower to scrub off the experience. The stores are unattractively organized, the shelves are disheveled (I tried making a pun on “shelves” and “disheveled”, but feel like “dishelveled” was a bit of a stretch), the overall feel is depressing, and the clientele frequently gives Walmart a run for their money.*
But, even though we have dozens of stores within a two mile radius of where we live, our Dollar General is the closest one. And with gas costing what it does right now, I’ll save as many inches of travel as I can.
As any avid reader of this blog (all none of you) should know by now, I’m a pretty big fan of drink mix sticks. They’re portable, often at least palatable, and are vastly better tasting than the blandness of water. I’m sure they’re less healthy, and the chemicals are reducing several years of my life, but the trade-off is worth it. After all, the later years are just spent shitting your own pants and forgetting who members of your family are.
But I had never tried any from DG. In fact, I don’t even think I paid attention to the fact they have many products available in (what I believe to be) their own private label lines. I always equated these stores as overpriced purveyors of overpriced junk, but quickly realized that many of their prices are actually pretty good. At least, compared to Kroger, where we would normally go for most things. And after perusing the aisle for a much longer time than necessary, I finally just grabbed a box of Good & Smart Strawberry Watermelon Drink Sticks.
I have to admit that it didn’t really sound all that good. Why did I get it, then? Well, looks (and sounds) can be deceiving; I’m of the age-old cliche that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Who knows how many people missed the chance at meeting their soulmate just because prejudice told them not to even approach them? While soulmates and drink mixes might not be on quite the same level, I think you get the point that I’m trying to make.
I must admit that I wasn’t sure exactly how this would taste. Would it have the more candylike sweetness one would expect from a watermelon flavor? Or would it go for a more realistic one? Ditto that for the strawberry. In hindsight, though, it tastes like I should have expected it to taste: very, very sweet. The first clue is in the scent, which reeks of a mostly-watermelon candy, with strongly-saccharine notes of strawberry. If this turns you off, don’t even bother taking a swig. These words I speak from experience.
My worst fears were realized, as the watermelon fell in the former category. So, too, does the strawberry, which is also overwhelming in its execution. Combine the two, and you end up with something that’s just disgustingly sweet. Personally, that means I wouldn’t really use it as a thirst-quencher during strenuous activities. It’s just not quite “chuggable”. But just for general liquid intake? This might do the trick for you, assuming you’re not turned off by a syrupy taste.
I guess the ultimate question is: Do I like this better than drinking regular water? And that is a question that, as much as I hate regular water, sadly makes me pause for thought. The sweetness does get quite overwhelming, but I suppose at least it’s not boring, so that has to count for something. Maybe? One thing that’s not up for debate, though, is the $1 price point (per one 10-pack box), which is a solid value.
In the end, the only recommendation I can give it is that you pass on by.
Overall: 3.5/10. It’s very sweet, to the point that it gets rather sickening after a while. And the flavoring is that overly fakey candylike strawberry, with cloying notes of candylike watermelon in the background. It’s so sweet that drinking it becomes a chore; one that might be even less palatable than the blandness of regular water. However, the sweetness issue can be combatted by diluting it even more, helping to stretch the $1 asking price even further. I wouldn’t say that’s a win-win in this situation – you’ll still have a disappointing flavor – but a lose-win is much better than a lose-lose. Take what you can get. Or just save yourself the hassle and don’t get this at all.
*During one of my first trips there, there was a younger dude, probably in his early 20s and clearly drunk, who got pissed that someone had cut in front of him in line. Or so he thought: As it turns out, the guy was actually there before him. He didn’t say anything, but his anger seemed to be mounting, as he was giving the kid’s back rough stares and muttering under this breath. And this guy didn’t even know; he had no idea he was being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. I was a little worried for the scrawny dude: To put it into concerned old person terms (aka prejudiced and racist), the angry guy looked like he could have been a gang member. So I stepped in and told him that the kid had in fact, been there first. For a split second, he stared at me like he was grateful, before that stare turned into attempted murder. He looked at me with unwavering eyes for a good five or ten seconds, before muttering something under his breath and then checking out. It was a pretty surreal experience, nearly getting murdered in the line of a Dollar General store. And it was one of the rare ones in a nice neighborhood.