REVIEW: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost (Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi)

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost

When I saw the bizarre, trippy commercial for Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost energy drinks during the Super Bowl, I got pretty excited. An energy drink with some kind of hallucinogen in it? WOOHOO! Well, at least that’s what the commercial led me to believe, but I was intent on finding out for myself.

The description on the bottles are kind of interesting. Flavored sparkling juice beverage blend from concentrate with other natural flavors. I was under the impression it was a normal energy drink, but right away I noticed they weren’t as acidic and sugary as others on the market.

It has coconut water, contains 10 percent juice, and with the can being only 12 ounces and 60 calories per can, it’s definitely healthier than a lot of other energy drinks.

It comes in two flavors, Energizing Strawberry Kiwi and Energizing Pineapple Orange Mango. Did they really need to use the word “energizing?” I mean, it’s called Kickstart, and it’s sold amongst other energy drinks. And they use the same term on both flavors. They should use different ones, like, I don’t know, “Pump You Up Strawberry Kiwi.” Just my thoughts.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Orange Pineapple Mango

Pineapple Orange Mango beats out Strawberry Kiwi big time in the taste department. It has three fruit flavors, and though you might think something would get lost in the mix, all three flavors actually come through, with pineapple and orange being the most prominent. It drinks like a mix between a soda and a sparkling juice, and isn’t as carbonated as much as normal energy drinks are. It was very pleasant to drink.

The cans say, “with just the right amount of KICK” because they have 68 milligrams of caffeine.

But they don’t say anything about containing acid or some other drug that will make my cat dance or my statues come to life and have deep philosophical conversations with me, but I saw the commercial. I know what’s going on here.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Strawberry Kiwi

The Strawberry Kiwi was kind of weak. I really just tasted strawberry, and since the flavor wasn’t nearly as potent as the Pineapple Orange Mango, the carbonation is more noticeable and it just doesn’t work as well as its companion flavor.

Both contain coconut water, but it must not be much. I couldn’t taste a hint of the distinctive flavor in either. But I’m not really complaining, as coconut water doesn’t have the greatest taste.

I drank half of each so I could see what was up with the energy boost I was supposed to receive, but honestly I didn’t really get too much of the kick I was promised. Now you may drink this and get a decent kick, but it didn’t do much for me.

But despite the lack of boost, I did find the hydrating part to be true. I would normally stay away from an energy drink if I needed a thirst quencher, but these drinks were darn refreshing.

As for the hallucinating… well, it never came. That commercial was so misleading. Promising me free drugs in a can that would make me dance and hallucinate, on top of giving me an energy boost. And what do I get? Nothing. Well, I did get a tasty Pineapple Orange Mango drink that I would have again. And I gained the knowledge that Strawberry Kiwi isn’t worth my time.

But most importantly, I realized that you shouldn’t seek out hard drugs inside cans of Mountain Dew energy drinks. You should just call your shady friend Peanut and see if he’s currently in or out of jail and whether or not he can hook you up.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 0 grams total fat, 130 mg of sodium, 15 grams total carbohydrate, 14 grams sugars, 0 grams protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 75% vitamin c, 60% niacin, 60% vitamin b6, 45% pantothenic acid, 10% phosphorous. Strawberry Kiwi – )

Item: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost
Purchased Price: 2/$3.79
Size: 12 oz. can
Purchased at: Gulf Gas Station
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pineapple Orange Mango)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Strawberry Kiwi)
Pros: Pineapple Orange Mango was quite tasty. Less sugary and acidic than typical energy drinks. Only 60 calories per can. Having a shady friend named Peanut.
Cons: Strawberry Kiwi was pretty weak. Drinks did not offer much of a kick. Misleading commercials. Having a shady friend named Peanut.

REVIEW: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk has 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk. It has no lactose, it’s been ultra-filtered, and comes from cows that are not treated with rBST. The cows that produce Fairlife milk listen to classical music all day, receive daily massages, go to cow hot yoga classes twice a day, are read bedtime stories, eat grass from silver troughs, and have the sound of crashing waves play while they sleep.

Actually, that last sentence I’m not sure about.

According to the bottle, the producers of Fairlife milk provide “extraordinary care for our cows.” I don’t know what that means, so I just assumed they are treated better than the wagyu cattle used to make Kobe beef.

Speaking of producers, if you think this milk comes from some farm in the middle of Indiana, you’d be wrong. It’s comes from some farm in the northwestern part of Indiana. Also, it’s distributed by some small beverage company that you’ve probably never heard of. I believe their name is Coca-Cola.

So how does this milk have more protein and calcium and less sugar than regular chocolate milk? You could watch this video that’ll explain it with cute animation. Or you could read the following boring words: ultra-filtering involves separating the different parts of the milk and then recombining them, but including more of the protein and calcium and leaving out the sugars.

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk smells and looks like every other chocolate milk on the market. It also has a nice thickness, thanks to the added carrageenan. Its flavor is mostly similar to other reduced fat chocolate milks, but it has a different aftertaste. It’s probably because of the added ace-K and sucralose sweeteners (sugar is also added), but I should make clear that the difference in flavor isn’t as dramatic as regular cola and diet cola. The aftertaste is not a deal breaker for me and my diet soda drinking taste buds, but I can see how it might be an issue for others.

Another issue others might have is the milk’s price. Fairlife is being marketed as a premium milk, so it has a premium price. A half-gallon…oh wait. A 52-ounce bottle retails for $3.99, which is more expensive than the average price for a gallon of whole milk, which I obtained from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

You’re probably thinking, “Holy crap! That is some expensive milk.” And it’s probably being followed by, “Holy crap! You did actual research for this review.”

Fairlife’s Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk is pricey, contains artificial sweeteners, goes through an unfamiliar filtering process, and is distributed by one of the world’s largest beverage companies, but I really like it. I think it has a surprisingly nice flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners, I’m all for more protein and calcium, and the price doesn’t bother me too much because of what it offers over regular milk.

Dairy milk hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s the same milk that did the body good when I was growing up. That milk is still fine, but I like having the option for “super” milk that does the body better.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 52 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like chocolate milk. Surprisingly good flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners. 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk.
Cons: Pricey. Contains artificial sweeteners. Slightly off aftertaste. Not sure what “extraordinary care for our cows” mean.

REVIEW: Pepsi Max Cherry Blast

Pepsi Max Cherry Blast

To be honest, I thought Pepsi Max would’ve been discontinued by now. Because it seems every beverage and snack that I love ends up being removed from shelves. I’d list all of the discontinued products, but I’m not in the mood to cry right now.

For those of you not familiar with with Pepsi Max, it’s a sugar-free, zero calorie cola with ginseng extract and nearly twice the caffeine of regular and Diet Pepsi. It’s been around since 2007 and it competes in the same market as Coke Zero, which is the diet colas with black labels market.

Although it’s a diet soda, it tastes different than Diet Pepsi. Pepsi Max is sweetened with aspartame and ace-K, while Diet Pepsi has just aspartame. This difference gives Pepsi Max a less harsh artificial sweetener aftertaste.

It’s a favorite of mine mostly because of the higher caffeine content. A 20-ounce bottle has 115 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.

Although it’s been around for a while, Pepsi Max has had only one new variety in the U.S. market — Pepsi Max Cease Fire. But that changed recently with the introduction of Pepsi Max Cherry Blast. Hey, I just realized the name kind of rhymes. I guess that’s why Pepsi didn’t call it Wild Cherry Pepsi Max. The soda only comes in 16-ounce tall boy cans, is a 7-Eleven exclusive, and I love this soda…aspartame and all.

I’m a fan of Pepsi Wild Cherry and Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry, and their syrupy artificial cherry aroma and flavor. If you’ve never experienced either soda, their cherry flavor is a hypersweet candy version of cherries, but for some it makes them wonder if they’re drinking cough syrup. Even though some folks think it tastes like something from the cold medicine aisle at your local Walgreens or CVS, I love that cherry flavor and it goes extremely well with Pepsi Max.

I. LOVE. PEPSI. MAX. CHERRY. BLAST.

Pepsi Max Cherry Blast Closeup

I’ve purchased five cans of Pepsi Max Cherry Blast over the course of a week. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is.

Although, to be honest, I think a major reason of why I love this soda so much is because, after drinking enough regular Pepsi Max to fill a few bathtubs over the years, my taste buds have gotten extremely tired of it and they yearned for something different.

As much as I love the flavor and the 92 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine in each can of Pepsi Max Cherry Blast, I do wish it was available in other sizes and stores. Also, I wish I knew if it’s a regular flavor or if I should prepare myself emotionally for when it gets discontinued.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepsi Max Cherry Blast
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: I love this soda. If you enjoy Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry and want more caffeine, this soda will definitely do. Finally, another Pepsi Max flavor! Has 92 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: Non-diet soda drinkers will not like it. Those who think the cherry flavoring tastes like cough syrup will not like it. 7-Eleven exclusive and only available in 16-ounce cans. The possibility that it’ll get discontinued.

REVIEW: Pepsi Pink (Japan)

Pepsi Pink (Japan)

When I think of pink, the first three things that come to my mind are Hello Kitty, pink lemonade, and the backsides of casual Victoria’s Secret clothing.

The fourth thing that comes to mind is Pepsi Pink from Japan. For most people, the fourth thing would probably be flamingos, roses, the My Little Pony Pinkie Pie, the singer Pink, breast cancer awareness, Pink Floyd, pigs, the Powerpuff Girl Blossom, Valentine’s Day, tongues, the Pink Power Ranger, or raw meat.

But for me it’s Pepsi Pink because, when it originally came out in 2011, I didn’t spend the $12 or so at an online Japanese snack store to have a bottle shipped to me, making it one of the few Pepsi flavors from Japan I haven’t tried. I guess you could say it’s my pink whale.

With its color and the fact that Japanese snack companies are known for coming up with weird flavors, you might think Pepsi Pink has an unusual flavor, like roses, pigs, or raw meat. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you kreatophagists out there, Pepsi Pink is strawberry milk flavored.

Pepsi Pink (Japan) Closeup

It has an sickly sweet strawberry aroma that’s also slightly floral. It’s what I imagine the Care Bear’s Care-a-lot smells like. The strawberry flavor is a hyper-sweet, artificial version of strawberry. They kind of taste like the strawberry bon bons hard candy that are seen only around Halloween.

The back end of each sip is a bit more interesting because that’s where the “milk” flavor kicks in. Its sweetness and flavor makes it taste more like artificial cream than artificial milk. Also, the milkiness reminds me of another Japanese drink I’ve had. It might be Calpis, but I’m not 100 percent sure.

As for its cola flavor, even though the word “cola” is printed in big letters on the bottle, there isn’t any.

Pepsi Pink is okay, but I couldn’t drink the entire bottle in one sitting. I could only take its sweet and artificial flavor in small doses.

I’m glad I finally conquered my pink whale, but, much like most Japanese Pepsi flavors I’ve tried, I don’t have the urge to buy more.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 47 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 15 milligrams of sodium, 11.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepsi Pink (Japan)
Purchased Price: $3.50 (plus shipping)
Size: 490 ml
Purchased at: J-List
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Strawberry flavor reminds me of strawberry bon bon. Milky flavor reminds me of Calpis (I think). Finally conquering my pink whale. Not raw meat flavored.
Cons: Only available in Japan. No cola flavor. I could only take its sweetness and artificialness in small doses. Slight floralness isn’t for everyone.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Orange (Japan)

Coca-Cola Orange (Japan)

In order to taste an orange-flavored Coca-Cola, you could do it the easy way.

That involves visiting one of the many Coke Freestyle machines throughout the country and selecting a Coke with orange flavoring. Here’s a link to help you find your nearest Coke Freestyle machine. There’s probably one within driving distance from you.

But if you want to taste an orange-flavored Coca-Cola the hard way, you could search eBay for someone selling Coca-Cola Orange, which is new in Japan, mull over spending $10 or more to purchase and ship a bottle from an eBay seller in Japan, decide to pull the trigger when you rationalize to yourself that it’s cheaper than flying to Japan, and then wait 1-2 weeks for it to arrive.

Guess which path I chose.

Yes, I took the harder option. I believe a wise man once said, “Satisfaction is sweeter when the tougher path is taken.” Or did I read that from a fortune cookie? Or is that a combination of inspirational song lyrics?

Anyhoo, I picked up a bottle of this limited edition soda from a seller in Japan for the low price of $3.99 plus $8.99 for shipping.

When it comes to new flavors, Coke in Japan is much more conservative than Pepsi Japan, who puts out exotic flavors like baobab, cucumber, and strawberry milk. The other Coke Japan flavor I tried was green tea. That might sound exotic to you, but in Japan green tea is like pumpkin spice in the U.S. It’s in everything.

Coca-Cola Orange (Japan) Closeup

Coca-Cola Orange has a slight orangey aroma to it and, when I hold it up to a light, it looks like it has a slight orange hue. To me, its flavor ratio is 70 percent Coke and 30 percent orange, which makes it taste 100 percent awesome, or as the Japanese would say, sugoi. That’s your Japanese lesson for the day and there will be a pop quiz at the end of this review.

I’ve had Coke with Lime and Coke with Lemon before, and the thing with those flavors was that they had a floor cleaner-ish vibe to them. But there’s none of that with Coca-Cola Orange. According to the label, there’s no fruit juice, so it’s not a natural orange flavor. The orange is artificial, but it definitely enhances the Coke with a pleasant sweet citrus flavor.

Now that I think about it, the flavor combination would make a great Coke Float. Imagine a Creamsicle Coke Float. That would be…what’s the Japanese word for awesome?

I told you there would be a pop quiz.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 47 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Coca-Cola Orange (Japan)
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Better tasting than Coke with Lime and Coke with Lemon. Orange doesn’t taste floor cleaner-ish. I think it would be great in Coke Float form. Doing things the easy way.
Cons: Not made with fruit juice. Pop quizzes. Spending over $10 per bottle when purchased from eBay. Kind of boring compared with the flavors Pepsi Japan comes out with. Doing things the hard way.