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September 5, 2010

ENERGY DRINKS: Hyped up or all hype?

Tribune staffers put popular energy drinks to the test

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Energy drinks. Some say they’ll give you wings and others claim they can turn you into a rockstar, but they all have something in common — bold marketing campaigns and lots of caffeine.

Are the wild names and fruity flavors all hype, or do they really work? A handful of our brave staffers recently subjected themselves to the energy drink challenge. A mission dedicated to finding the truth behind the bottle.

Each staffer monitored their energy levels before and after sampling various beverages including regular energy drinks, spiked waters, 2-ounce energy shots and the old standbys such as coffee and Mountain Dew.*

The newsroom was buzzing with energy. Staffers were alert, typing at a quick pace and talking fast. Some were jittery and some were completely unaffected. The office was productive until the caffeine vs. sugar battle finally came crashing down. My co-workers were sluggish and groggy. One stated he wished he never took the first sip. Another said he needed a nap.

If you’re wondering how the ‘amped’ up drinks stacked up to one another, see the results below.

— Page designer Roni Montgomery

* Staffers sampled one energy drink per day over a two-week period. They picked the drink of their choice, and no two employees sampled the same beverage.

RED BULL

$1.67 per 8.4 oz. can; 110 calories; 80 mg caffeine

Tested by Daniel Suddeath

TASTES LIKE — A little bitter

BEFORE (2 p.m.) — Just had lunch. Feeling a little groggy.

3 p.m. — Words are coming to my head faster than I can say them. My legs are shaking.

4 p.m. — I’m still moving my legs a bit, but it’s starting to diminish — not really working anymore.

4:20 p.m. — I wish I hadn’t drank it. I’ve crashed quickly. Red Bull has stolen my will to live.

VENOM DEATH ADDER ENERGY + FRUIT PUNCH

$2.69 per 16.9 oz. can; 120 calories per serving (2 in can); 80 mg caffeine per serving

Tested by Michael Reschke

TASTES LIKE — All Sport. Low carbonation. Sweet.

BEFORE (6:15 p.m.) — A little hungry. I could sleep if I wasn’t at work, but not overly drowsy.

6:45 p.m. — I don’t know how to describe how I feel, but I definitely feel something.

7:53 p.m. — I feel like all the effects have worn off ... even a little sleepy.

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