Hell, there's an energy drink straight up called Cocaine.
July 22, 2015 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Jaya Saxena takes a look at how energy drinks through the ages have gotten humanity JACKED UP.

The titular beverage, with 280mg of caffeine per serving.

Check out Caffeine Informer's list of the most powerful energy drinks (and shots) ever.

Read a slew of factoids about the most famous energy drink of all, Red Bull.

If you're bored with coffee and tea but still looking for a high-octane energy drink with fewer chemical additives, try yerba mate (NB, you might want to add some other stuff to it first).

On the opposite end of the au naturale spectrum are these odes to a pair of dearly departed caffeinated malt beverages: Saying Goodbye to Sparks and R.I.P. Four Loko.

Of course, you can still mix mix caffeine and booze at home... but maybe you shouldn't.

Feeling too jacked? Have another drink to relax!
posted by divined by radio (50 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
My heart clenches in agony at the mere thought of downing one of those.

Also, colour me surprised when I learned you can purchase Four Loko here in Ontario.
posted by Kitteh at 8:59 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Drunk History episode covering the invention of Coca-Cola is highly recommended.
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just drank a Red Bull sugar free and it has 3 carbs in it. I'm really puzzled what those carbs are if they're not sugar. The ingredient list is not helpful.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:01 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The JACKED UP link insists on equating coca leaves with cocaine. That's like referring to poppy seed cakes as heroin.
posted by signal at 9:03 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


POWERTHIRST
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:05 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just drank a Red Bull sugar free and it has 3 carbs in it. I'm really puzzled what those carbs are if they're not sugar. The ingredient list is not helpful.


My guess is sugar alcohols.
posted by -1 at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love all the righteous Baptist towns with strict blue laws where your proper and respectable ladies would go to the pharmacist counter for a daily tincture of cocaine potion.

It's al,let as funny as those wine bottles sold during Prohibitin that said very loud and clear (UNFERMENTED GRAPE JUICE, WARNING NO LET LET SIT IN A COLD DARK PLACE FOR SIXTY DAYS AS IT MAY BECOME AN ILLEGEAL PRODUCT)

Way better then those "calming brownies" sold in your shitter gas stations that IMPLY they contain ThC but are just the clever repackaging of shitty gas station brownies.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Which one has electrolytes?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:14 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


> It’s certainly strong, but not strong enough to give you a wildly different high from an Americano. That’s where the marketing comes into play. Red Bull gives you “wings,” whatever that means, and inspires guys to literally jump to Earth from outer space.

Its awful taste also gives you a boost, the way smelling salts do.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:15 AM on July 22, 2015


If you're bored with coffee and tea but still looking for a high-octane energy drink with fewer chemical additives

Everything we consume is made of chemicals.

Energy drink manufacturers, whether they’re chemists or druggists or corporations, have always been on the lookout for the next great stimulant. They will keep pushing what they can get away with—mixing caffeine and alcohol or finding new compounds to add—and governments will keep being outraged and trying to regulate them. But there’s no contesting our long history of legally stimulating ourselves.

Um. Alcohol is a sedative-depressant.

Mainly, though, all "energy" drinks have one thing in common: lots of caffeine. Simply put, if you're not a regular coffee drinker, then of course you're going to FEEL ALL JACKED UP!

Taurine, which you are partly made of, is just there for marketing purposes. The B-vitamins are thrown in for the same reasons. Because various B vitamins do play a role in energy metabolism, of course adding them to a beverage will GIVE YOU ENERGY AMIRITE?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which one has electrolytes?

Only plants crave those.
posted by nubs at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


One side effect of consuming a ton of B Vitamins is more intense, vivid dreams but that's something to think about.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2015


I've basically switched to getting all my regular caffeine content from coffee. I only do an energy drink when I know I'm going to be out all night. This is a recent development, though.

Back in college, after a very late night, I slammed one of those 5-Hour Energy things to power through a boring class. I remember finishing the little bottle and then looking down to see my skin flush bright red. That should have been a warning. Sadly, it wasn't the last time I did one of those. I don't remember the same reaction on subsequent dosages though.
posted by SansPoint at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2015


(pours a can of Red Bull out in memory of Jolt Cola)
posted by Shepherd at 9:22 AM on July 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Wanted to hear more about Sufi mystics staying up all night, and 17th century Europeans arguing over newspapers.

Also: what the US has done to tea terrifies me. First there was no hot tea, then there is lots of hot drinks that they call tea - but they either have NO TEA in them, or too much crap added to be good tea.
posted by jb at 9:22 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shepherd (pours a can of Red Bull out in memory of Jolt Cola)

Oh, man. Back in middle school, a bodega near the school (which was also near a college campus) sold Jolt Cola. When a friend of mine and I were at school early enough, we'd run over and buy a bottle each. Then, it went away... When I went to college, at that same campus, Jolt came back in those giant-ass battery bottles with the weird alternate flavors. It was never the same, though.
posted by SansPoint at 9:25 AM on July 22, 2015


jb: First there was no hot tea, then there is lots of hot drinks that they call tea - but they either have NO TEA in them, or too much crap added to be good tea.

So, you can actually carry Tea and No Tea simultaneously in the US. Then again, we never had Common Sense.
posted by SansPoint at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


People have been adding other things to tea since basically forever, but I still would like loose leaf stuff to be more widely available.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:29 AM on July 22, 2015


I make my own energy drink at home, in a mug, from roasted seeds that I call beans because I am hip.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also: what the US has done to tea terrifies me. First there was no hot tea, then there is lots of hot drinks that they call tea - but they either have NO TEA in them, or too much crap added to be good tea.

Was recently travelling in the US.

Washington state, being in the midst of a scorching drought, made for some thirsty travels.

"Ah, some iced tea will hit the spot."

Having lived right on the US border most of my life, I should have remembered: Iced tea is not, as a rule, sweetened in your fine country, unless explicitly referred to as such (i.e., "sweet tea"). Duh.

The first mouthful I gulped down was a bit of a surprise.

*eyes wide*

"Oh yeah. That's a thing here."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:35 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Way better then those "calming brownies" sold in your shitter gas stations that IMPLY they contain ThC but are just the clever repackaging of shitty gas station brownies.


I did not know these existed, but they amuse me almost as much the "energy" pills with the "sexy" packaging that just happen to be blue and shaped like Viagra, which also prove that people on crystal meth are very easily convinced/marketed to.

(This might seem like a derail, but it's all part of the same ridiculous marketing I guess.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always wanted to brew coffee with Water Joe just to see what would happen but then I remember that I don't like coffee.
posted by workerant at 9:42 AM on July 22, 2015


My heart clenches in agony at the mere thought of downing one of those.

Also, colour me surprised when I learned you can purchase Four Loko here in Ontario.


You can also purchase Tim Horton's coffee, with 330mg of caffeine in an extra-large. A can of Red Bull has 80mg.
posted by rocket88 at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I always wanted to brew coffee with Water Joe just to see what would happen but then I remember that I don't like coffee.

I can tell you -- Exactly what you think would happen. It doesn't taste any different, and it's definitely more jittery -- more importantly, if you do this, I recommend staying very close to a bathroom.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


SansPoint: That's the niacin flush - generally harmless, but definitely absolutely unnerving.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can also purchase Tim Horton's coffee, with 330mg of caffeine in an extra-large.

That's to make up for the fact that it's fucking awful coffee.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can also purchase Tim Horton's coffee, with 330mg of caffeine in an extra-large. A can of Red Bull has 80mg.

WHOA THERE, TIMMY'S.

I speak as someone who hasn't had a cup of caffeinated coffee since 1995 when my teenage appetite for cups and cups of the stuff plus white crosses officially burned out my capacity to handle anything resembling caffeine. (It's only in the past five years that I am able to drink green tea but even then I have to be careful.)
posted by Kitteh at 9:51 AM on July 22, 2015


I remember finishing the little bottle and then looking down to see my skin flush bright red.

Niacin flush. And yeah, some drinks do carry notices about that.
posted by -1 at 9:53 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


my teenage appetite for cups and cups of the stuff plus white crosses

Ah. You would have been a key market for these energy drink companies.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:03 AM on July 22, 2015


cf. Powersauce.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2015


There's also an energy drink called Cannabis, which doesn't seem like good branding to me at all. At least a drink like Marley's Mellow Mood is sold as a "relaxation beverage", which appears to translate to "iced sleepytime tea with Bob Marley's picture on the bottle".
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every now and then I decide to mix one of those "six hour energy shots" with a coffee chaser (to kill the horrid aftertaste of those shots). It does, in fact, result in a period of time when I suspect I could vibrate through walls.

As it happens I don't mind herbal infusions (colloquially called "tea"), but it still drives me nuts to be given a choice of flavored teas (actual Camellia sinensis but adulterated) and herbal teas, but provided with a container of water that might have been near boiling when it left the kitchen but sure isn't anymore.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll just stick to one 16 oz mug of really fucking strong coffee a day, plus a Diet Coke at lunch. But it's good to know I have so many options if I ever decide my heart would run better on 240 volts.

Someone I worked with tried some hyper-caffeinated coffee not too long ago and it didn't go well. He has a high tolerance for...many substances, but the hyper-caffeinated coffee almost did him in. "I don't feel so good", "uh...no, seriously, I feel like shit on this stuff", and "jesus, my heart is beating like a fucking hummingbird's and I think it's gonna explode" were some of his more telling comments. YMMV, as they say.
posted by mosk at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2015


I think it's interesting how many of these energy drinks are marketed with visual language which suggests that they contain dangerous chemicals. E.g., there's a brand called NOS that comes in a container that looks like an oil can. Meanwhile, the rest of the food industry is trying to emphasise natural products.
posted by chrchr at 11:03 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Two sides of the same coin, innit? Discourage rational examination of ingredients and pick the foodstuff that fits your lifestyle instead.
posted by Monochrome at 11:12 AM on July 22, 2015


Energy drinks are bad soda with tons of caffeine in them. Don't overthink this.

I love them.

I feel like there is a weird phenomenon with energy drinks where people believe the marketing and it causes them to have less interest in the product.
posted by mellow seas at 11:33 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course I'm sure that focus groups have confirmed that the marketing strategy is a net gain.
posted by mellow seas at 11:35 AM on July 22, 2015


A couple of months ago I was disgusted with diet coke consumption and looked on the shelves of the neighborhood Walgreens for No-Doz caffeine pills. They had 5 hour energy, red bulls, monsters, &c but no No-Doz.

Quick calculation: No-Doz is 800 mg caffeine per 1 dollar and Monster energy is 80 mg caffeine per 1 dollar.
posted by bukvich at 11:39 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quick calculation: No-Doz is 800 mg caffeine per 1 dollar and Monster energy is 80 mg caffeine per 1 dollar.

Better calculation (pricewise): Caffeine powder ran about $27/kilogram on Amazon last time I checked, which comes out to ~3700mg/dollar. (Mind you, you want to be careful about measurements & storage, but it's a good way to go for price competitiveness. My mom has a recipe for homemade tootsie rolls which she mixes it into, aiming for ~100mg/roll)
posted by CrystalDave at 11:47 AM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


CrystalDave I am both intrigued and horrified at homemade, caffeinated Tootsie Rolls.
posted by SansPoint at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


59.95 / kilo CrystalDave. Could not find any hits for site:amazon.com. (Also I get 37 073 mg / dollar at 27$ / kilo.)
posted by bukvich at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2015


I call dibs on SansPoint's share of CrystalDave's mom's homemade caffeinated Tootsie Rolls .
posted by Etrigan at 12:13 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of surprised this tread has gone this long without anyone mentioning the ultimate hypercoffee, Black Blood Of The Earth.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is Vodka Red Bull still a thing?
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2015


I'm one of those insufferable organic vegan hippies who cooks like 90% of what she eats from scratch, all beans and quinoa and whatnot, and I think kale is pretty much god's gift to the world, but you'll have to pry my Red Bull from my cold, dead hands. It tastes like Flintstones Chewables and despair and I love it like nothing else in the world.

There's just something about the disgusting piquancy of an unhealthily overcaffeinated soda that makes me feel so much happier than simply popping a No-Doz. I still remember the tongue-spoiling, rotten candy flavor of my favorite (sadly discontinued) energy drink. R.I.P. Freek Evil Energy.
posted by divined by radio at 1:18 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hm. My Amazon links seem to have been blackholed. I think they might've stopped selling it directly there. Probably an FDA thing. (Probably wise, to be sure, because 1kg of caffeine could kill a lot of people given the LD50, and cause a lot of problems in doses well below that. What I've generally seen reported is 150-200mg/kg of bodyweight, so about 5-10 grams)

Another recommendation I've seen and often used is that instead of trying to measure out small, precise weights; take a larger known quantity (so that any variation/margin-of-error is minimized), dissolve it in a known quantity of water, and then measure out from there.

I generally like mixing ~200-300mg caffeine with an equivalent dose of L-Theanine (Tea derivative, balances the crash/tolerance) so that any drink can be an energy drink (avoiding the sugar in commercial drinks).

Ah, here we go. Graciously provided, the recipe in question.
(All applicable warnings here, be careful when working with powdered caffeine)
14 oz semisweet chocolate (1 heaping cup)
½ cup light corn syrup
10 grams caffeine powder (approx. level 1 Tbsp , don’t guess more!)

Optional: 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Optional: 1 tsp peppermint or spearmint oil

Melt chocolate and optional Coconut Oil over double boiler.
Stir until smooth.
Remove from heat. 

Add powdered caffeine and corn syrup, again, stirring until smooth.
Chill until firm, 20-30 minutes.

Transfer to work surface (tray) and knead several minutes.
Wrap in plastic and stand at room temperature for one hour.
Cut into 100 pieces to approximate 100 mg serving of caffeine.
I like to cut into four pieces, then roll that out,
and cut that into 25 pieces about ¾” across.

You can cut them into cubes, roll them in the palm of your hand.
Allow to set before putting into a jar for storage in your pantry.

Tips:
You can put them in a mint tin for travel.
You can also wrap each piece in plastic wrap or waxed paper and store in a cool location (not your car!)
Remember, you CAN overdose on caffeine.
I found that adding coconut oil made the tootsies stay a little softer for a longer period.
Without it, the tootsies hardened a bit after a month in storage.

When rolling the caffeinated chocolate in your clean hands, you do get caffeine in your system.
Don’t do this at 10 at night if you have caffeine –vs- sleep problems!

I like having different sizes, some a little smaller.
I also like making enough to last me for a couple of months.

If your caffeine powder has small lumps, smooth those out with the back of a spoon so you don’t have caffeine clumps.

posted by CrystalDave at 1:26 PM on July 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


I like the Monster Rehab Iced Tea and Lemonade and the Rockstar Coffees with almond milk. Especially for recovering the day after from my favorite energy+booze cocktail. Otherwise, lapsang souchong in the morning.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:27 PM on July 22, 2015


I always wanted to brew coffee with Water Joe just to see what would happen but then I remember that I don't like coffee.

Have done this!

I could see through time
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:06 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread reminds me of Death Wish Coffee, which supposedly has three times the caffeine of typical coffee through careful bean selection and roasting. I think I'm curious enough now to order a pound and see how my hard-earned tolerance stands up to it.
posted by egregious theorem at 10:06 PM on July 22, 2015


I always wanted to brew coffee with Water Joe just to see what would happen but then I remember that I don't like coffee.

When I was in college (approximately ten million years ago and therefore before you could find a Starbucks on every street corner), I used to stroll into the student lounge, grab the pot of brewed coffee, and make instant coffee with it. Same basic principle. Would not recommend this.
posted by webmutant at 10:54 AM on July 23, 2015


« Older MOAR STRUTS FOR SPACE X ROCKETS   |   "So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments