Great Value Pomegranate Lemonade Energy Drink Mix Sticks with Caffeine (Walmart)

A box of Great Value Pomegranate Energy Drink Mix Sticks, from Walmart
These are way better than I was expecting.

The great thing about going on a family vacation - besides, you know, the whole vacation part - is getting to sample things that I would never buy. I've never really stopped to contemplate it, but once you get settled in to life on your own, everything becomes a routine: you do the same things every day, you go to the same places, you say the same things, and you buy the same types of groceries.

It’s hard to sway from the norm. Unless you have some distinct reason to (a convincing article, or a strong recommendation from friends or family), most people won’t voluntarily switch things up on a trip to the grocery store. We don’t want to end up buying something that we might not like, when we already know the things that we do; and that kind of justification is hard to avoid. It's not just limited to groceries; that's just life in general.

And that’s one of the things that make a family vacation so great, at least for a weirdo like me who likes to review private label brands. It was an even bigger treat because, as is the case with most of our vacations, the products in question came from Walmart, which is the perfect place to go when you’re looking to save a few bucks after dropping a few grand on a beach house for a week. Hey, gotta avoid bankruptcy somehow!

This, my friends, would explain how we ended up with a box of Great Value Pomegranate Lemonade Energy drink mix sticks, which are available at Walmart, that place that everyone seems to gravitate towards when they’re looking to stretch their dollar further, yet - for reasons extensively covered in other blog posts - my wife and I tend to avoid. And we owe it all to my father-in-law, who grabbed these for himself, but I'm sure wouldn't mind that I snuck a packet for myself.

Without further ado, let’s get down to the meat of the matter, shall we?

First things first: it smells enticing, with a sweetness that you know you’re going to get with lemonade. Really, mixing anything with lemonade is kind of a smart tactic, because the lemons are such a familiar flavor and easily replicated with natural flavors at this point; it's a hard taste to completely bomb on.

Also, adding anything to lemonade is going to beg comparisons to the more familiar combinations - such as strawberry - and this combination is no different. When you’re not dealing with actual juices, and instead dealing with lab-created flavors, there’s no possible way to get it to taste 100% right; even if they did, I would have no idea, considering I’m not 100% familiar with the taste of pomegranate myself.

However, from what I remember of it, it’s a very tart fruit, and this is not a very tart combination at all. Hell, lemons are tart in and of themselves, so we should be looking at double tartness here, but that’s not the case: In fact, I would say this one is more akin to a strawberry lemonade, if I didn’t have the benefit of seeing the package and knowing what the other fruit was supposed to be. It even looks like a strawberry lemonade, coming through with a pinkish hue once the powder is blended into a bottle of water, and not the darker red that I was expecting, simply from seeing a bottle of pomegranate juice on the shelf of a store once. 

That being said, although the taste doesn’t seem to be all that accurate, it does taste good. And it also gave me a slight, but noticeable, kick of energy after downing a few swigs. It’s not the kind of energy-enhancing performance I would trust to keep me going after a long day, or one I’d turn to if I were looking to stay up all night, but the 120mg of caffeine per packet is a pretty respectable amount for this kind of drink (and quite a bit more than I was expecting it to contain). The $1.59 asking price (per each 10 packet box) is also on the lower end of similar private label beverages, making it a solid deal, too. 

Even if I were to suddenly go shopping at Walmart a lot more frequently than the few trips per year we tend to take there, I still wouldn’t consistently grab this. But for an unexpected change of pace, this is a nice, inexpensive way to get a little kick, without breaking the bank.

Overall: 7.5/10. This combination of pomegranate, lemonade, powder, and caffeine isn’t going to wow you with its flavor accuracy, but it does have enough going for it (value, taste, performance) to justify a purchase. It gave me a noticeable kick after a few swigs, and since there’s no sugar involved, there’s also no crash afterwards. Those expecting some tartness are going to be a little disappointed, as it stands firmly on the "sweet" side of the flavor spectrum; anyone else looking for a quick kick at a good price should find something to like here.