Rip It Tribute Active Mandarin Lime Sugar Free Energy Drink (Dollar Tree/Various)

A can of Rip It Tribute Active Sugar Free Energy Drink sitting on a Dollar Tree shelf
Because nothing is more patriotic than using troops and the idea of war to sell a canned beverage.

Thanks mainly to a bad batch of Rip-Its that I bought once from a local general store (they were well within their expiration date, but straight-up tasted like mold), along with some rather uninspired flavors, I have gradually found myself starting to hate the brand as a whole. And this is despite their affordable dollar price-point, which is even more appetizing considering a lot of energy drinks are way overpriced, so I try to stick with the budget ones.

We purchased this at the same convenience store in Tennessee that provided us with Spider Berry Bite energy drink (also for a dollar; see review here) - overall, they had more Rip-It flavors than I had ever seen before. A lot of them looked pretty lackluster and uninteresting, which honestly makes my apparent choice even more baffling: out of all of the cans that they had to offer, why in the hell did I pick the camo can? That most obvious and execrable of all PR campaigns, where a company “supports” sending American civilians off to die—maybe they even donate money to some kind of veterans assistance charity for added artificiality—urges us to also support the protection of "our freedom" (read: massive profits of war industry) and then show off their boundless bravery and patriotism by throwing some camouflage on their worthless products, despite the strong possibility not one person behind the marketing stunt ever served in any active military campaign. Cool.

Rant aside, this one just honestly just looked to be the most appetizing of the bunch, and it wasn't even until later that I even saw what the flavor was (I just assumed it would be something “green”): “Active Mandarin Live Wild Lime.” Okay. That's clearly trying to sound “tough” and “masculine” to appeal to the same mindset that mindlessly gobble up buying camouflage-branded products, but if you read between the lines and unnecessarily-exaggerated addition of "patriotic" words, you're basically left with “Mandarin Lime”. I must say that sounds pretty good.

Like a lot of Rip-It flavors (okay, maybe all of them) the aroma of this is over-the-top to the point of absurdity: it smells like “lime” alright, but an exaggerated, candy-like version that bears very little resemblance to the actual thing. The taste is very similar, as it's very artificial, and appeals to the tastebuds the way many fast foods and junk foods appeal to us: because they're specifically manufactured and painstakingly created to do so.

For all the hate I seem to be pouring on it, I have to say that it actually wasn't THAT bad: in fact, it's probably the best Rip-It flavor that I've had up to this point. At the same time, though, that statement is also showing why I get less and less excited to get them every time: they may only be one dollar, but there's little more here than sweetness and caffeine. It's almost like a melted lime Jolly Rancher, a statement that I'm sure will make it appeal to a certain crowd, but it's a fairly-close description. The fact it's sugar free is rather surprising, as there isn't much of the typical "artificial sweetener" aftertaste inherent in most such drinks, nor is there a crash afterward, which are two rather large pluses.

But it doesn't change the fact that it still tastes overly sweet. I'm a sucker for sweet things, as any casual reader of this blog can attest, but even I had a hard time forcing it down. I'll just end this by saying that I'm not personally recommending this to anyone, but you could certainly do far worse for a buck.

Overall: 5/10. It's like lime candy was melted down into a lime soda...there's an absurd, over-the-top presence of lime throughout that foregos believability in favor of in-your-face artificiality. It will appeal to some tastebuds (teens and kids mainly), but it's not really my favorite kind of thing. Nor are camo-laced products, which suggest we should support and be okay with sending troops (i.e. mostly young adults) off to die for the sole sake of boosting war industry profits while placing it under the guise of "protecting our freedom" (Really, how free are a country's citizens if said country is spying on them at any given time? And that's just what we know is happening). Sadly, this is one of the better flavors of Rip-It that I've ever had, a statement that is quickly making me realize that I should probably never buy another one again.