Back to School 2008 | What’s the Buzz? Students test-drive energy drinks so you don’t have to. 

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You know the situation: You spent all night “studying,” only to roll out of bed exhausted 30 minutes before your midterm. And so you reach for one of the neon-colored, stomach-lining-eroding energy drinks taking over the local Tesoro. But with such a dizzying array to choose from, how do you decide? Are they all the same? Are they any good?

City Weekly asked me and U of U students Cara Pomeroy (my sister) and Jean Simmons (my friend) to sample one drink every morning. We described the taste and sensation and then rated any increase in focus and energy we experienced. Our results follow:


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Serving size: 8.3 ounces
Cara Pomeroy: Easiest to drink because there’s less of it. Sour, but not too bad. I felt a little jittery, but there was no crash later. Rating: 8 out of 10
Esther Pomeroy: It tastes like liquid Shock Tarts. I liked it because it was smaller than the others. I felt awake and alert for about five hours, and I didn’t crash. Rating: 9 out of 10
Jean Simmons: Tastes tangy and sharp, like diseased grape juice. It was the most consistent and sustained focus and energy. The only drink that actually aided concentration. It gave me good focus, and it lasted for about six hours. Rating: 10 out of 10
Average Rating: 9 out of 10

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Sobe No Fear
Serving size: 8 ounces (but in a 16-ounce can)
CP: Bitter aftertaste. A lot of liquid to ingest, I had to nurse it for three hours. I didn’t like that the can didn’t say how much caffeine was in it. I didn’t feel a huge burst of energy but it did jump start my day. Rating: 6 out of 10
EP: Kind of like watery, carbonated cough medicine. I definitely felt it although it made me a little hyper. It lasted maybe four hours. Rating: 7 out of 10
JS: Lemon-flavored cough syrup. It lasted around four and a half hours. It dried out my mouth when I drank it, which was weird. Made me feel really restless and made it more difficult to concentrate. Rating: 7 out of 10
Average Rating: 7 out of 10

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24:7 Energy
Serving size: 8 ounces (but in a 16 ounce can)
CP: Tasted a lot like the Sobe but a little better. Felt jittery and really low on energy after it wore off. Rating: 5 out of 10
EP: It tasted almost exactly like the Red Bull. I didn’t really feel any energy from it at all. Rating: 4 out of 10
JS: Tasted tangy, sweet, and a bit like grapefruit. The focus was good but it lasted for an alarming 8 hours and made me feel restless. Other than that it was very unremarkable. Rating: 9 out of 10
Average Rating: 6 out of 10

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Full Throttle (citrus flavor)
Serving size: 8 ounces (but in a 16-ounce can)
CP: Tasted bad, like really cheap, sour soda. Had the least effect but still made me alert. No crash. Rating: 5 out of 10
EP: Sort of like a grapefruit soda. Too much carbonation, but drinkable. Had about the same effect as a Coke. Rating: 7 out of 10
JS: Tastes like citrus-y Robitussin. Lasted six or seven hours. Made me dizzy and gave me a headache. Rating: 6 out of 10
Average Rating: 6 out of 10

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Amp Energy Overdrive
Serving size: 8 ounces (but in a 16-ounce can)
CP: Possibly the least unpleasant energy drink. The cherry flavor was not sickeningly sweet which is impressive since it contains 58 grams of sugar. Gave me a burst of energy without a nauseating side effect or crash. Rating: 9 out of 10
EP: Too sweet but not very strong. Felt about the same as drinking a Coke in terms of energy. It was kind of gross so it was hard to drink 16 ounces. Rating: 5 out of 10
JS: Essence of cherries, bubblegum and cough drops. Lasted six and a half hours, didn’t really make me feel focused. Caused instant stomachache. Product felt like it caused disease. Rating: 5 out of 10
Average Rating: 6 out of 10

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5-Hour Energy (orange flavor)
Serving size: 2 ounces
CP: Gave me a punch but that might just be a side effect of the horrible flavor. It wore off after 3 hours. They’re not kidding when they call it a shot—you want to get it down as quickly as possible. Rating: 7 out of 10
EP: Easily the worst tasting. It reminded me a little bit of Crystal Light with an incredibly aspartame-y taste. The energy was similar to a cup of coffee. Lasted maybe four hours and left me yawning and with a headache. Rating: 6 out of 10
JS: Tastes like orange juice and DayQuil. Lasted almost exactly five hours, gave me some focus but it took a while to kick in and left me nervous and cranky. Rating: 7 out of 10
Average Rating: 7 out of 10

Conclusion: Red Bull is the overall winner. Most of the drinks work, and some are better than others. For the most part, it’s just a matter of taste.


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About The Author

Esther Pomeroy

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