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: 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: 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.

REVIEW: Pepsi True

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High fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. To some, they’re just ingredients on a label. To others, they’re a plague that has destroyed society. To me, they are the sweeteners that’ll haunt my liver for the rest of my life.

You will not find high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in the new Pepsi True. Instead, you will find and taste old school and new school plant-based sweeteners — sugar and stevia. There’s also carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavor, and caffeine.

Don’t let the green can fool you. It’s not a natural, environmentally friendly, St. Patrick’s Day celebrating, green tea containing, or 4/20 celebrating version of Pepsi. (Although I do imagine the can is bong-able.) It’s just a cola for those who stay away from high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Coca-Cola has a similar product on the market called Coca-Cola Life.

However, while Coca-Cola Life can be purchased from stores, the only way to get your hands on Pepsi True is through online retailer Amazon. And you can’t just buy a 12-ounce can, a six-pack, or a 12-can fridge pack. You have to buy a nine dollar, 24-count case made up of adorable 7.5 ounce cans. Right now I imagine some of you doing math in your head. Stop what you’re doing and let me be your abacus.

SPOILER ALERT: Buying a case of Pepsi True from Amazon is pricey.

A 12-pack of regular Pepsi/Diet Pepsi/Pepsi Next in 12-ounce cans go for around three bucks. So if 24 cans will be around six bucks, then it’ll cost two cents per ounce. Now a 24-pack of 7.5-ounce cans of Pepsi True has 180 ounces and costs nine smackers. So it ends up at five cents per ounce. So Pepsi True per ounce is more than twice as expensive as any other Pepsi in cans. Oh, but nine dollars is not Pepsi True’s true cost. There’s also the shipping cost or the other items you have to buy in order to get free shipping on Amazon. Sometimes it’s a pain to spend $35.

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As a Pepsi fan, I was excited to try Pepsi True, but after drinking through the four cans I received from Pepsi, I don’t think I’ll be filling my Amazon shopping cart with cases of it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Pepsi True. It’s smoother and cleaner than regular Pepsi and Pepsi Next, which I adore. It has 10 fewer grams of sugar than a 7.5-ounce can of regular Pepsi. I dug that slight kola nut extract vibe it has, making it taste kind of like Pepsi Natural (although there isn’t any kola nut extract in the ingredients). Also, there isn’t any bitterness that usually comes with some stevia-sweetened products.

But it’s not good enough to make me want to pay a premium for these tiny cans from Amazon, even if I do have an Amazon Prime account. If Pepsi True ends up in brick and mortar stores and comes in larger sizes with prices equal to its HFCS and artificially sweetened bretheren, then I do see myself buying it on a regular basis.

However, if you’re a soda drinker who avoids high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, I imagine you would be willing to pay extra for Pepsi True since real sugar and stevia sodas tend to be pricier, like Mexican Pepsi and Coke, which are sweetened with real sugar, and Zevia soda, which contains stevia and monk fruit. So if you’re one of those people, I think Pepsi True a good option to have in the mostly high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweetener world we live in.

DISCLOSURE: I received free Pepsi True samples from Pepsi.

(Nutrition Facts – 7.5 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepsi True
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7.5 ounces
Purchased at: Received from Pepsi
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Smoother and cleaner than regular Pepsi. Fewer grams of sugar than regular Pepsi. No HFCS or artificial sweeteners. Has a kola nut vibe to it.
Cons: Right now, only available only on Amazon by the case in small 7.5-ounce cans. You’ll have to pay a premium for it. Spending more money to get free shipping on Amazon.

REVIEW: Surge (2014)

Surge (2014)

I want to find someone who’s been living under a rock for the past 15 years. I would greet that person with a Motorola StarTAC phone in one hand and a can of the re-released Surge in the other, and then tell him or her that there hasn’t been much change in the world. The old flip phone and the 1990s graphics on the Surge can would surely give him or her comfort.

And then when I see that comfort in their face, I’d say, “Nah! Just kidding!”

Then I’d blow that person’s mind by pulling out an iPhone, making a phone call, then taking a selfie with the, most likely, smelly person, and then post that photo on Facebook. Then I’d tell him or her Surge was discontinued, but was brought back and now it’s sold only on the internet. And then I would follow that by singing, “Welcome to the jungle. We got fun and games. We got everything you want. Honey, we know the names. Sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na knees, knees.”

I’d also like to go back into time.

I’d travel to 2012 and post on the most popular Bring Back Surge Facebook page, “I’m from the future. Surge is coming back in 2014. Amazon will sell it. And, oh yeah, we figured out time travel. I just blew your mind twice!”

For those of you too young to remember Surge, or don’t want to look up Surge on Wikipedia, it was Coke’s caffeinated and radioactive green answer to Mountain Dew. Wait. Let me rephrase the previous sentence so that the soda nerds don’t have to adjust their glasses, raise their fingers to protest, and begin a sentence with “Actually.” Surge was Coke’s second answer to Mountain Dew. The still available, but not widely available, Mello Yello was Coke’s first answer to Mountain Dew. While Surge has a non-rhyming name, it’s radioactive green, mean, and full of caffeine.

Okay, I’m not sure about that mean part. I just added it in there for a rhyming effect.

To be honest, even though I’ve had many cans of Surge in my 20’s, I don’t remember what Surge tastes like, or if I preferred it over Mountain Dew, or if I signed some Bring Back Surge online petition, or if I used Surge to keep me up at night to play Nintendo Super NES in college while everyone else was partying. But what I do know is that Surge’s flavor is…how can I explain this without getting a bunch of hate mail from Surge fans…not what I would expect from a soda that’s marketed to the “extreme” crowd.

Although, it might appeal to the zombie crowd today because Surge came back from the dead and the can’s design makes it look like a zombie.

Surge (2014) Closeup

While Mountain Dew has a syrupy citrus flavor that has a slight bite, Surge’s flavor and mouthfeel is a bit more mature than that. And being mature myself, I’m fine with that. Fart. It tastes like there’s a combination of lime and orange (orange juice concentrate is one of its ingredients, just like Mountain Dew), and it’s smooth and not too syrupy, which makes it much easier to drink than Mountain Dew.

Here’s another way I could explain it: If someone were to blindfold me, serve me a Surge, and tell me I was drinking a clear citrus soda and called Citrue, “The Citrus Soda with True Flavor”, I would believe them.

Overall, it was nice to be able to revisit Surge. I enjoyed its flavor, it gave me a nice caffeine jolt (it has slightly less caffeine than Mountain Dew), and if I want to dress up as 1990’s Guy for Halloween, I’ll have a great prop.

A big thanks to Aaron over at The Soda Jerks for sending me a can of Surge, which stopped me from spending $10 plus shipping to buy a can off of eBay from some stranger, since Amazon keeps selling out.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 230 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 56 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Surge (2014)
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: Received from an internet friend
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nice lime and orange flavor. Easier to drink and has a more mature flavor than Mountain Dew. 69 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: Has a flavor that I wouldn’t associate with “extreme.” Available online via Amazon, but they sell out quickly every time they get a new shipment. Available online via eBay, but get ready to pay 4-5 times more than it’s worth for one can. Has slightly less caffeine than Mountain Dew and a lot less caffeine than most energy drinks that didn’t exist in the late 1990s. Being introverted in college…and today.