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More like cherry cough syrup.

Great Value Energy Cherry Slush Drink Mix Sticks (Walmart)

There are few things better in life than an ICEE. Well, technically, Slurpees are way better, but I’ll gladly settle for an ICEE. There’s just something about having a frozen version of your favorite beverage that is second to none. Of course, they’re refreshing on a hot summer day, but I get addicted to them; I’ll gladly throw one down on the coldest of winter nights.

So when I saw this flavor of drink mix stick for the first time at Walmart, I’m pretty sure my deadened eyes lit up slightly. A portable version of one of my favorite drinks? I knew it wasn’t going to match the flavor profile ad nauseum, and I’m well aware there are a wide variance of frozen beverages. In fact, “cherry slush” gives off the impression it’s going to be more based on the “Slush Puppies” line of frozen beverage, which are basically Sno-Cones but with more syrup than ice. I don’t really care for those.

But hey, it was too intriguing of an idea to pass up.

Have you ever had a product switch flavors on you within minutes? Or gotten something in your head that you just can’t untaste? That’s what happened to me here. The first drink I took, I actually thought it was a pretty accurate representation of a cherry frozen beverage. As I was expecting, it does have more in line with “Slush Puppies” than ICEE’s, but I was still impressed with its level of accuracy, given its portable aspect. My wife concurred.

But midway through my first bottle, that impression changed rather drastically. My mind started picking up tastes akin to cherry cough syrup. It literally just happened out of nowhere. I tried to ignore it. I tried to force the cherry slush in the name to stand front and center. But no matter what I did, I just couldn’t undo it. Taking further swigs made my stomach feel like it was turning somersaults.

This is part of Great Value’s “Energy” line of drink powders, but I can’t say for sure how well it works, because it took me hours to force down my first and only bottle. These pack in a rather impressive 120 mg of caffeine per serving, which is higher than I would have expected coming from a powder. In theory, these should give most users a boost of energy, but I can neither confirm or deny it from personal experience.

These come in at $1.94, which is much higher than they were the last time I bought them. It’s sad – and a little weird – to see even drink mixes have been targeted by rising costs. Despite that, though, Great Value’s prices are still in line, or cheaper, than other store brands. That means the prices seem to be a parallel move across retailers. 

Judging from the high customer ratings on Walmart’s website, I’m clearly in the minority. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe the sudden switch in perception is a sign of a fragile mental state. If you’re on the fence, I’d actually encourage you to give it a shot. There seems to be a good chance you will like it far better than I.

Overall: 2/10. The first couple swigs were good, and I was impressed with its accuracy to the titular beverage. But somewhere between the second and third, something changed: It started tasting like cherry cough syrup. I tried ignoring that and focusing on my initial impressions…but it was too late. It couldn’t be undone. The thought of taking another drink made my stomach turn. I even waited a couple days and tried again, to no avail. Judging from the glowing reviews on Walmart’s website, I’m clearly in the minority; if you’re on the fence, give it a shot. Worst-case scenario: You might get addicted to the flavor of cherry cough syrup.

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