These days, we can all use a little pick-me-up. And when it comes to energy drinks, everyone from local natural food companies to multinational beverage corporations is getting in on the action. To help you choose which one's right for your ass-dragging needs, we employed a mysterious yet rigorous scientific method called “drinking,” and then rated the options on a scale of 1 to 10, “1” being well water with a sulfur aftertaste and “10” being Red Bull in 1999, back when it was cool.
The latest line of beverages from Firefighter Brand, founded by one of Memphis' finest, is an energy drink that looks exactly like Gatorade, but with a different label.
Where to find it in S.F.: Handed out at April's Great Quake parade by members of San Francisco Firefighters Local 798; in area stores this summer.
Shameless marketing pitch: First, there's the implicit claim that if you drink it, you'll be more like a firefighter. Also, the fact that it's “Haz-Mat Free” because it contains no hydrogenated oil, trans fats, or high-fructose corn syrup.
Flavors: FruitPunch, Lemon-Lime, WildBerry, Orange
Surprise ingredient: L-arginine, an amino acid important in the healing of wounds
Overall score: 6
Hyphy Juice Energy Drink
With all the buzz around hyphy, the first major music genre to come out of the Bay Area in decades, it's no surprise someone decided to capitalize on the phenomenon. Congratulations to Oakland rappers the Team — or their handlers (whoever came up with the idea first).
Where to find it in S.F.: Corner “grocery” stores
Shameless marketing pitch: The Team released a song titled “Hyphy Juice,” and convinced Too $hort to display cans of it in the music video for his song “Blow the Whistle.”
Flavor: “Grapple” (half grape, half apple)
Surprise ingredient: Elutherococcus Senticosus — aka Siberian ginseng or Devil's Root
Overall score: 8
Created by San Francisco manufacturer BlueNote, this energy-boosting packet is to energy drinks what sugar packets are to candy bars. Why buy an overpriced bottle of energy soda when you can rip open the chewing gum-sized package and pour powder into any drink, for just 89 cents?
Where to find it in S.F.: Yuppie grocers like Mollie Stone's
Shameless marketing pitch: Hotel Triton is now using SmartBoost as a replacement for pillow-top chocolate mints.
Flavor: None — it's “Taste-Free”
Surprise ingredient: “Caffeine (natural) — Daily Value Not Established”
Overall score: 3
Roughly four years after it all but discontinued Surge, a caffeinated citrus soda in a green bottle, the Coca-Cola company has launched Vault, a caffeinated citrus soda in a green bottle. The proprietors of www.savesurge.org are excited.
Where to find it in S.F.: Being handed out by attractive young women at AT&T Park after Giants games.
Shameless marketing pitch: Hiring attractive young women to hand it out at AT&T Park after Giants games.
Surprise ingredient: EDTA, a preservative also claimed to reverse the effects of gangrene
Overall score: 4