Great Value Tropical Punch Energy Drink Mix Sticks with Caffeine (Walmart)

A box of Great Value Tropical Punch Caffeine Drink Mix Sticks, from Walmart
Tastes decent, but didn't really give me a noticeable kick.

Another getaway (this time with the wife’s family to the beach) can only mean one thing: several trips to Walmart. I mean, everyone knows they’re the cheapest retailer around, and when you’re dropping several grand to stay in a beach house for a week, you have to cut costs somewhere...and groceries are usually the best place to do that. 

Thankfully, the in-laws like drink mix sticks just as much as I do, so they grabbed some on a trip to store, allowing me to raid the stash without having to leave our tropical paradise. Because what’s better than going to Walmart? Not going to Walmart. 

It smells like...a flat tropical drink. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like a kids drink version of tropical, with some exaggerated notes of pineapple, rounded out by an indistinguishable glob of other sweet fruits. It’s not exactly the aromatic qualities I was expecting, nor hoping for, but it smells like it should be tolerable, at the very least.

The taste somewhat delivers on its promise, by delivering that indistinguishable glob of fruity sweetness that was hinted at, although surprisingly, there’s not really any pineapple to be found on the tastebuds. It is so tangy that I thought it was lightly carbonated at first, only to realize that it’s not. Just wondering aloud: are any powdered drink mixes carbonated? Is it possible to add carbonation to powder? That would be an interesting combination that could open up the possibility of powdered sodas on the go, or even lightly carbonated drink mixes that could add some interesting textural combinations.

The main downside is that I didn’t really feel too much of an energy kick, which is a rarity considering my sensitivity to caffeine. Usually just a few swigs of anything are enough to at least kick me one gear up, but this one didn’t really seem to have much effect. That's very surprising, considering these carry a respectable 120 mg of caffeine per stick; I believe that's about on par with a 12 oz. Red Bull. Maybe I just tried one on an “off” day...whatever the reason, it was a rather disappointing final note in a product that didn’t have too many upbeat ones.

One good thing about this is that it didn’t seem to dry my mouth out as much as other energy powders. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that a lot of these energy drinks in powdered form leave me feeling more dehydrated than anything else, but this one didn’t really do that. I guess ineffectiveness has some positives after all!

Value is pretty good compared to other products, with each 10 stick box retailing for $1.59. That puts it on par with private label offerings from other stores, although other stores have ones that actually seem to work better. Unfortunately, it's that rather weak effectiveness that dampers what could have been a much better product.

Overall: 5/10. It has a pretty strong tropical-ish taste that punches the tastebuds, and a good price, but this one didn’t seem to give me the same caffeinated kick as other similar products. That’s certainly a downside, because I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, so for something to outright not work in any noticeable capacity is a relative rarity for me (especially a product containing 120mg of the stuff). With so many drink mix options from so many stores, I don't think I'll ever feel the need to come back to this one, but it at least wasn't so bad that I regret trying it. Live and learn.