Summit Ampli Cotton Candy Energy Drink (Aldi)

A can of Summit Ampli Cotton Candi Energy Drink, which is a Special Buy from Aldi
Terrible flavor, but a hopeful step in the right direction for Aldi.

I won’t bore you with the details of how I stumbled on this Special Buy drink at my local Aldi store, since I already did that in a previous post, so let’s just move on, shall we? (Although you can read about it here if you must.)

The first thing I noticed, as my apparently shaken can started rushing out onto the table I was sitting at the moment I opened it, is that Aldi really does seem to be taking their commitment to removing artificial colors from their products. I expected this to be a cartoonish pink color, or maybe even blue - references to the two most popular cotton candy colors - but the puddle of liquid that collected underneath the can was neither. In fact, it was no color at all. It was clear.

I was actually dreading trying this one even moreso than the blue raspberry, because I don’t really even like actual cotton candy. So then it should come as no surprise that dislike extends especially to liquid replications of it. However, the 300mg of caffeine content, paired up with the meager $.99 price tag (and along with the constant complaints to my wife about how Aldi rarely offers Special Buy energy drinks), forced me into giving it a shot. Hey, at the very least, I was supporting a cause I was passionate in; while I doubt my two purchased cans are going to sway the marketing gurus at Aldi one way or another, I consider it a vote to offer more energy drinks as Special Buys, at the very least.

It smells incredibly, gag-inducingly sweet, which I guess is something that can be expected from a beverage made to taste like a particular candy. However, it’s too much even for actually made my stomach cringe a little bit (you know, doing those waves and flips as if trying to run away from the smell), and made me even more nervous about taking a swig. But of course, I'm not one to run away from most challenges, no matter how off-putting they are to me, and so I puckered up and dove lip-first right in...

Yep, it’s gross, but it’s what most people will be expecting, flavorwise. I will say that it’s not as overbearingly sweet as I thought it would be, but it’s still going to be too much for some people. I would think it would be for the majority of people, but considering the growing number of energy drinks modeled after candies and sweet stuff, it seems to be a growing market, rather than a specifically niche one, so it's very possible that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

One of the best parts is that, no matter how sweet it tastes, both of Amplifi's Special Buy offerings are sugar free, a market that I think Aldi is really missing out on (sure, they have lo-calorie Gridlock, sugar free Red Thunder, and sugar free energy shots, but all but the latter suck horribly). Hopefully this will lead to the rotation of other flavors in the Amplifi line, or hell, even a permanent spot on store shelves. (I'm so desperate for something new that I'd even be fine if these were the two flavors they always carried; obviously, I'd prefer something I enjoy more, but I'd still buy them occasionally just to support them. Besides, they really are at a great price point.)

The best compliment I can offer these drinks - besides the rather stellar aforementioned price tag - are that they at least seem to do a great job of providing energy, which they should, considering they pack in a whopping 300mg of caffeine per can. This puts them up there with the “new generation” of energy drinks, consisting of brands like Reign, Bang, Adrenaline Shoc, etc. All of these feature high caffeine content, and no sugar, which seems to be the way the energy market is heading. And if Aldi doesn't adopt these as part of their permanent - or even semi-permanent rotating Special Buy - inventory, they may be left in the dust while competitors take advantage of an ever-growing industry.

Overall: 5/10. It’s not my cup of tea, but it tastes pretty much exactly as I was expecting it to...which will be a plus for some. It’s also rather amazing that, even though it’s based off a candy, it’s not as sickeningly sweet as I thought it would be based off the scent. It’s still saccharine, and will be too much for some, but it tapers off before overwhelming the senses with it. The 99-cent price tag is excellent and also helps to make it slightly more palatable. While I don’t like this flavor (nor the Blue Razzberry flavor that it’s being offered with), I’m still hoping it will open the door for Aldi to offer a rotating selection of flavors as Special Buys, if not carrying a wider selection of them as part of their permanent inventory.