EVER SINCE RED BULL charged into the United States beverage market in 1997, stimulant-laden sodas from a host of different companies have been generating big buzz. In the last five years, domestic sales generated by these power-gulps have grown from $10 million to nearly $300 million. That's in part because the drinks deliver a high-octane jolt, and promise such benefits as improved endurance and enhanced virility. Could it be? Doubtful. In most cases, the boost comes from a combination of sugar and guarana (a Brazilian berry with more than twice the caffeine of a coffee bean). And therein lies the problem. The short term rev-up can lead to hypoglycemic crashes and severe dehydration if the drinks are overused. In other words, don't turn to them when you should be hydrating. But let's not be complete grumps. With slogans like "Get it up, keep it up!" the go-go mission is clearand there's no denying that they offer attitude adjustment when a single shot sounds better than singletrack. Getting in the Red Bull spiritwooooo!we rounded up a few newer players for a zest test.
WhoopAss, 8.4 oz.
TASTES LIKE: Maple syrup and Flintstone's Chewables
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 50 mg/75 mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: Royal jelly and taurine
TARGET MARKET: Live wires who want to "Open a can o'..."
SLOGAN: "Tastes better. Works better. No bull."
Blue Ox Total Impact, 8.4 oz.
TASTES LIKE: Lime-intensified Sprite
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 95 mg/0 mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: Vitamins B1, B6, and B12
TARGET MARKET: Young adults fuzzy about brand names
SLOGAN: "Do it all nite long"
SoBe Adrenaline Rush, 8.3 oz.
TASTES LIKE: Orange dosed with mango
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 86 mg/50 mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: D-Ribose
TARGET MARKET: guys who consider themselves too young for Viagra SLOGAN: "Get it up, keep it up!"
Bawls Guarana, 10 oz.
TASTES LIKE: Cream soda
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 64 mg/0mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: Guarana, guarana, and more guarana flavor
TARGET MARKET: Fine-food connoisseurs who prefer their buzz in a bottle. SLOGAN: "Stay up, drink Bawls!"
TASTES LIKE: Carbonated Tang
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 90 mg/50 mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: Vitamins B6, B12, and C
TARGET MARKET: Made by Anheuser-Busch, it's for Bud drinkers in need of a boost.
SLOGAN: "Turn your energy around. Do a 180."
Venom, 8.4 oz.
TASTES LIKE: Fresca with a menthol finish
CAFFEINE/GUARANA: 40 mg/50 mg
SECRET INGREDIENTS: Bee pollen and maté
TARGET MARKET: Animal Planet devotees
SLOGAN: "High-potency energy with instant bite."