Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rip It Power Energy Fuel (Dollar Tree)


A cheap energy drink with a unique flavor profile.
When you go to a typical supermarket, and load up on name-brand items, a lot of your money is going toward that brand’s name; in other words, you are paying for them to maintain their image through advertisements.  You’re also telling them that it’s fine for them to raise the price to whatever they see fit, because you are a loyal consumer, you have to have their product, and you will do so at any cost (within reason).  Just about every single specific type of food have a “main brand” or two, but one of the areas where the markup seems to get more and more excessive is in the beverage department.

It is here that the battle for soda supremacy comes down to two “main brands”, whose 12-packs retail for close to $5 (if not more) when not on sale.  Yet, curiously, the store brand sodas are offered at around half that cost.  That right there tells you that what you’re paying for in the name brands aren’t manufacturing costs--you can bet it costs them pennies per can to produce their carbonated beverages--but rather “the name”.  You can begin to see how brand recognition can be a very lucrative business; “train” consumers to rely on your product, or to believe that it’s the best in any specific category, and you’ve basically just written a blank check for yourself.

Going beyond sodas, another section with bloated pricing are energy drinks, where an 8.4 oz. can of the stuff that “gives you wings” can set you back $2 or more.  Ditto that for the two popular brands of 16 oz. cans, the ones that like to sponsor terrible “rock” concerts and “extreme” skating competitions; not surprisingly, each of these is owned by one of the main soda companies mentioned above.  Anyway, the retail price of these rarely go below $2 when not on sale, despite being comprised mainly of sugar and chemicals.

Thankfully, as with most other food categories, there are some energy beverage manufacturers that like to operate “under the radar”.  By not accruing excessive promotional and advertising costs, they can afford to be the cheapest option on store shelves.  One such product is the Rip-It line of energy-producing liquids, which are available at Dollar Tree stores nationwide.  On my last trip there, I picked up one labeled “Power”, which I assumed to be the equivalent of their “original” flavor.

As anyone who has read previous reviews of mine for energy drinks can attest to, I think just about all “original” flavored ones taste more or less the same.  I assume this is probably by design, as manufacturers just want to stick with what works, instead of thinking outside of the box or trying anything new.  With this in mind, I popped open the tab, and braced myself for the flavor that I knew was coming.

Only it wasn’t.  On the way in, my nose caught a brief whiff of what I was in for, but it wasn’t the typical tart, mechanical scent that I was expecting; instead, it smelled strongly of apple.  Ripe, delicious apples.  I would have loved to have smelled it again, to make sure that my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, but I had already committed to a sip--which indeed confirmed it.  I must say this is one of the more surprising, not to mention pleasant, energy drink flavors I’ve ever experienced.  It’s also perfectly carbonated, and smooth going down.

The downsides are the typical ones I have for all of these:  There’s lots of sugar (50 g per can), so while it might pick you up for a bit, it’s certainly going to let you down.  And even though it somehow tastes like a delicious fruit, there’s no actual juice in it--it’s the typical blend of chemicals and “natural flavors”, which are so vague they can mean any number of things.  But these complaints aside, it’s still very drinkable, and at only $1 per 16 oz. can, provides some excellent value over the national brand drinks.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall: 8/10. I was expecting the “typical” energy drink flavor with Rip-It’s “Power” blend, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it tastes like a ripe apple instead.  Perfect amount of carbonation helps it go down smooth, as well.  Caffeine content might be a little weak for some (160mg per can), and sure enough, drinking half a can, which I can do with stronger ones, only gave me a brief burst of noticeable energy.  But the value here--$1 for a 16 oz. can--is excellent; this may just become my go to energy beverage line.

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