Summit Red Thunder Sugar Free Energy Drink 4-Pack (Aldi)

Box of Summit Red Thunder Sugar Free Energy Drink showing it's now in 12 oz. cans instead of the original 8 oz.
Same shitty taste, now in larger 12 oz. cans that I guarantee no one asked for.

Oh, how time (and a changed formula) has not been kind to Summit’s Red Thunder energy drink. For many years, it was one of the best combos of taste and value available in the world of energy drinks—that is, until Aldi inexplicably changed the formula in favor of one that is way more bitter and metallic, rather than the smooth and delicious perfection that it was. As a result, it dropped from a perfect score, all the way down to below “5”. Talk about a steep decline in quality!

I always favor “regular” versions of most drinks because the vast majority of diet drinks just taste absolutely disgusting to me. They’re just watered-down, artificially sweetened take-offs that have people fooled into thinking they’re being “healthy” by avoiding sugar and calories; but let’s be honest here, is a soda ever really going to be healthy? Besides, some science seems to suggest that diet drinks are every bit as bad for you, if not worse, than the regular drinks, because of all the chemicals involved in their creation (especially the artificial sweeteners, which do more harm than good). What’s the point in drinking them if they have no proven health benefits, and taste like absolute crap?

On the flip-side, I’ve grown to tolerate diet energy drinks. After all, what is an energy drink anyway but a collection of several chemicals thrown together to form a rather crude-tasting liquid that’s solely meant to give you a shot of adrenaline? So if the regular, heavily-sugared versions are already a cesspool of chemicals and unhealthy additives, I figure what’s the difference between that, and drinking an artificially-sweetened cesspool of chemicals and unhealthy additives? Here, though, at least in my head, there is a specific benefit: by limiting the amount of sugar consumed, I’m also reducing, if not entirely eliminating, the hard “sugar crash” that results from drinking most energy drinks.

I just don't understand the benefits of merely prolonging a nap instead of outright avoiding one, which I feel like I'm doing when I drink a sugared energy drink—it's almost like you need a second one later just to stave off the crash sleepiness. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Besides, as I’ve said earlier, most energy drinks have a crude flavor to begin with (I like them, but they’re technically not sweet, and intentionally seem to go for a weird “metallic” flavor as the standard), so the weird, medicinal addition that results from adding an artificial sweetener is less noticeable to me in this form.

And that is why I'm recommending Summit's Sugar Free Red Thunder energy drink over the regular version. It does have the medicinal taste I alluded to earlier, but it cuts back on the strong taste of rust that you get with the full-flavor, ever since they changed their formula. It's drinkable, and gives me a kick of energy every time I down one, so it obviously does what I need it to do. It's not the best-tasting energy drink on the market, but there's at least no crash later, and leaves me raring to go for quite a while afterwards. Maybe the biggest reason is the price: These are $2.49 for a pack of four 8.5 oz. bottles (which I also believe are .1 oz. more than the name brand), which is around what you can expect to pay for a single can of the national brand stuff, and this works just as well.

I still don't buy these very often, as Aldi is really kind of disappointing me with their standard energy drink options, but if you find yourself in a pinch, this is one of the better ones they carry.

Overall: 5/10. It's still nothing to write home about, but Summit's Sugar Free Red Thunder Energy Drink is one of the better energy beverages that Aldi carries. There's the medicinal, fake taste inherent in all “diet” drinks, but it's no worse than the pungent “rust” flavor that we get with the full-flavor, ever since they changed their formula. But, a four-pack (of 8.5 oz. cans) is a mere $2.49, which represents some excellent value, especially when compared to the national brand. I do get a burst of energy that lasts for a little while after drinking one, without the crash, on account of them being sugar free, so they work for what I need them for. The taste just isn't there, and that's what prevents me from buying these more often.