Exotic, uh, gum: 5 Adamantium

And now for something completely different: 5 Adamantium gum.
And now for something completely different: 5 Adamantium gum.

Here's a follow-up to my previous article about V Graphite, the tie-in with the The Wolverine film, which is due to be released within a week or so.

I realise this isn't a beverage. I'm sorry. You'll survive. Deep breaths.

So many incomprehensible thoughts come to mind when one is presented with a chewing gum named after a superhero's fingernails.

This is Wrigley's 5 gum in Adamantium flavour with the byline "A rush of citrus".

I've often wondered if the creators of 5 gum took their marketing strategy from Lynx/Axe deodorant, in that they've branded the product with a slick, mostly black design and chosen totally non-descriptive flavour names. I realise trends are made to be bucked, but there's something to be said for giving your customers some idea of what they're paying for. (Particularly as neither the gum nor the deodorant are cheap products.)

The package design is cool, but it's got a head start considering the established design is already really neat. This one is silver.

The gum itself is wrapped in silver foil embossed with the 5 logo. The gum itself is yellowish beige.

When 5 was originally released back in 2009, Wrigley took the unique (and admittedly quite gimmicky) stance of leaving the flavours a total mystery. Nothing was printed on the wrapping, and the names of each flavour were deliberately cryptic. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the flavours are now printed on the outer plastic wrap. This one is "A rush of citrus", the "rush" being the addition of pear. I had no idea pear was considered a speedy fruit.

Based on a five minute perusal of the Wikipedia page for 5 gum, it strikes me that 5 Adamantium is quite likely a rebranding of 5 Evolution, a citrus and pear flavoured variation released in Europe, but not Australia.

It tastes like a fruity chewing gum. Nothing amazing to report. It doesn't taste like Hugh Jackman (unless Mr. Jackman has a flavour akin to artificial lemon sorbet with a pear in it).

Beware the pear.
Beware the pear.

The flavour lasts a remarkable length of time, but I believe that's a staple of all of the 5 gum range.

What can I say, it's alright. It's not remarkable. It's....alright.

Other things I've learned today: I had no idea that Schmackos are made by the same company that makes Mars Bars. (And 5 gum.) Something new. Every day.

Another old review: Pulse Live energy drink

Really cool looking bottle.
Really cool looking bottle.

This is another energy drink review that I need to apologise for. Much like my review of Pimp Juice, this one is going to suffer from the fact that I didn't actually write anything down when I drank the damn thing several years ago. I took photos, though. That's something.

Pulse Live is as obscure as hell. I can't find much about it through googling, largely because it's completely obscured by Pulse, the more famous energy drink with vodka added. This drink doesn't seem to be affiliated with Pulse.

The bottle looks awesome. The label is transparent, and the artwork is really quite cool. It's a long-necked bottle unlike most bottles you find, so it stands out.

The drink itself is totally colourless. Not even a hint of yellow. (Although having said that, with age, it's turned slightly beige. I won't be drinking the out-of-date bottle any time soon.)

It smells and tastes exactly like lemonade.

That's about all I have to say about that.

Also, this is the last one of these stupid "I took photos five years ago, so now I'll write a review" reviews. I promise.

No colour whatsoever.
No colour whatsoever.

This is awkward - exotic beverage: Pimp Juice

One assumes they wrung a pimp out to make this.
One assumes they wrung a pimp out to make this.

This is awkward not only because this drink is endorsed by Nelly, and is called "Pimp Juice". It'll also be awkward because I drank the damn thing four years ago. I was thoughtful enough to take photos, but evidently not thoughtful enough to make notes. You'd think I'd have known better.

Regardless, I shall press on.

While searching for any residue of a review I may have written when I sipped the stuff, the only text I can find on my computer relating to Pimpjuice is part of an IRC chat transcript from 2008:

Datazoid: I bought another three energy drinks whilst in Adelaide.
Datazoid: I shall add them to the pile of thirty or so I've yet to sample.
Datazoid: Most of which are rapidly exceeding their use-by dates.
Chubbs: Datazoid: will it make any difference
GremZzz: It might even improve them.
GremZzz: The sugar content will ferment and you'll get wasted.
Datazoid obtained "Hiro Vitality", which contains essence of brocolli, alfalfa and celery.
Datazoid: It's bound to taste of ass.
Datazoid: I also located Pimpjuice.
Datazoid: I had to ask for it by name over a counter.
Datazoid: "Please can I have some, uh, pimpjuice please."

Apart from that, here's what I can tell you: It's green. The can art is quite nice, if you're in to bling and all that.

The Pimp Juice website is horrible. It makes noises when you point to the menu items. It contains way too much Nelly. I have learned that the drink is apparently still being made, and now comes in a purple colour.

The green one was supposedly berry flavoured, but I have some memory of it tasting largely like water and vitamin B, with some sugary horridness overtop.

I believe this drink's sole redeeming factor is that it's GREEN.

I still have a full can of this stuff in storage, but as it's at least four years old there is no way known I intend to drink it. I'll leave that job to someone else.

Exotic beverage: V Graphite


Update, July 12, 2013: I'm getting loads of hits on this article (by loads I mean literally tens), so I'm going to put the killer question up front for those who're asking:

What does V Graphite taste like? It tastes like spectacularly artificial chocolate.

Now, back to the original article:

This energy drink is a tie-in with The Wolverine, which opens in July, 2013. I found a review on Lifehacker which claims the drink has a similar flavour to Mother, which I'm afraid has tainted my opinion of the drink before I've even tried it. I'm pleased to report, though, that I don't agree with this assessment.

The Lifehacker comments address an obvious question: Why "Graphite" and not "Adamantium" if this is a tie-in with The Wolverine? Logical answers are provided: Graphite was an existing flavour in New Zealand, newly introduced to Australia. Also, 5 gum has already staked claim to an adamantium flavour.

The can art is cool, but nothing outrageous. Wolverine appears in black and white. The "V" logo floats over a red patch. I guess they would have had to tread carefully, and would not have been able to include the usual torn slashes from Wolverine's claws, as they'd look a lot like to logo for Monster Energy.

The bizarre ingredient in this drink is and extract from the maca root (lepidium meyenii), which you can read about in tedious detail on Wikipedia. Among its more outrageous claims to fame, maca has been known to create and/or worsen goiters (don't click on that if you're eating), and to act as male aphrodisiac. I've seen female aphrodisiacs in energy drinks (Naughty Girl), and a generic aphrodisiac in Red Eye Passion (not yet reviewed, but it tastes like champagne).

The drink is brown. It's not as dark as cola, and it's a warmer brown than you'd expect. It's kind of like tea. It's well carbonated.

It tastes like chocolate. At least, it tastes like chocolate in the sense that the Lynx/Axe Dark Temptation body spray smells like chocolate. It's a totally artificial-tasting flavour. It's fifty percent really cheap chocolate (the powdery white kind), and fifty percent as though someone was given the job of simulating the flavour of chocolate from a barrage of completely unrelated chemicals. All told, though, it's quite palatable. Unlike V Black, which is supposed to be coffee-based but tastes largely like arse, V Graphite seems to be a fairly pleasant drink.

Oh, and it's had no effect on my libido thus far. Sorry.

Observations about energy drinks

An example of a good energy drink.
An example of a good energy drink.

A long time ago, when I was more enthusiastically reviewing my ridiculous collection of energy drinks, I received an e-mail from someone, asking something along the following lines: "Why do you drink and review energy drinks when you think they all taste like crap?"

Allow me to address this.

I don't think they all taste like crap. I think most of them taste like crap.

Energy drinks, by their nature, have a great tendency to taste terrible. This is because the key ingredients that give energy drinks their energiness taste, with few exceptions, like shit.

Caffeine is a very bitter tasting chemical. That's why most caffeinated beverages are extremely sweet (such as energy drinks), or have their own bitter flavour to mask the caffeine (like coffee or tea).

B-group vitamins, a group that includes our friends thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and B12 (among several others) taste horrible. Have you ever been curious enough to chew on a Berocca tablet? That's b-group vitamins. They are not tasty.

Taurine is made from bile. Sorry to spoil that one for you, but it's true. It's mostly synthetic these days, but still. If someone tells you "that's not real vomit, it's synthetic vomit", I don't think you'll be okay with it going into your dinner. Needless to say taurine has a hideously unpleasant flavour, and contributes big time to the unique and apparently desirable flavour of Red Bull.

The trick for manufacturers of energy drinks is to create a flavour that either masks or compliments these unpleasant flavours. Most energy drinks take the "overpower it with something sweet and fruity" approach. Some take the "embrace the flavour, enhance it, make it salty and sweet" approach, like Red Bull. Others take a completely different tack, and throw in peculiar Amazonian berries and things you can't pronounce in the hopes of creating a unique flavour they can call their own. Sometimes this works. Most times it doesn't.

Limitations bear creativity. Without a box to think outside of, and envelopes to push, new flavours and concepts can't be created. The fact that energy drinks are made to suffer is what makes them fascinating to me. Sometimes I come across a good one.

It makes me happy.

Energy drink: Mother "Green Storm"

It's green and stuff.
It's green and stuff.

Mother "Green Storm" is a bit like recycled photocopier paper. You can't tell recycled paper is any different to regular photocopier paper unless you read the package first. Similarly, you can't tell that Mother "Green Storm" is made with natural caffeine unless you read the can. And even then, it makes no difference. Apparently natural caffeine is better for you than the synthetic stuff. Both will make you alert, but the absorption rate and side effects tend to differ. Supposedly, according to some sources that I don't care to link to, natural caffeine tends to have a gentler spike-and-crash rate. Who knows --

It tastes like regular Mother. If you're a fan of that, then you'll probably like this. If -- like me -- you're not a fan of the acrid taste of standard Mother, then you'll probably think it tastes like piss and vinegar with most of the vinegar removed.

The can also claims "high caffeine content", which is peculiar, as it actually has 0.4 milligrams less per 100ml than pretty much any other energy drink that's available. While it's not unusual for these drinks to claim a higher energy content than their competitors, which can be justified by higher sugar levels, claiming high caffeine content when it's...not, is just peculiar.

Energy drinks collection, a sample

I have some energy drinks. Currently, most of them reside in cardboard boxes in my garage, and I'm seriously hoping none of them have gained the evolutionary skills required to eat through their aluminium cans, because I'll one day be opening up boxes of metallicised molasses with guarana undertones and that does not sound like fun. Here are a few happy snaps of various shelves full of drinks from the last several years:

Ooh, Nokia phone camera quality.
Ooh, Nokia phone camera quality.

Left to right, we have:

  • Battery (tasted alright, but just a knock-off of Red Bull)
  • Hype (elderberry flavoured drink, red in colour, didn't taste entirely like ass)
  • Jugular (tasted very much like Satan's anus, with overtones of death, feces and herbs)
  • Red Eye Power (Red Bull clone)
  • Speed (Lime, Raspberry and Cola, if memory serves. All pretty average)
  • BLOX (either a repackaging or a knock-off of Blue Ox, which tasted largely like disappointment. And ass)
  • Scooby Doo and friends -- not energy drinks, but cool packaging regardless. I'm afraid I don't recall the flavour of Scooby or Shaggy's drinks, but Catwoman was raspberry and Batman is clearly cola (with apple juice)
  • The bottle of home-brand methylated spirits in the lower left is unrelated to the energy drinks

Hit the jump, there be heaps more.

Nokia Nokia Nokia.
Nokia Nokia Nokia.

Continuing the collection, we have:

  • Irn Bru, at Dan's insistance
  • Columbian Cola, which unfortunately does not seem to have any suspicious ingredients
  • Hartz Energy from Tasmania, which I purchased for the obvious reason that it's BLUE
OH HEY slightly better quality
OH HEY slightly better quality

There's a Hemp trend on this shelf. Hemp, the original, is in the yellow and green cans on top. The black ones are Hemp Black Label, and the bottles are Hemp Gold. I don't recall actually getting around to trying these ones, and I imagine if they're still sealed in my garage that they probably taste like acrid crud by now. Perhaps they mellow with age. (Also, perhaps they don't.)

Yellow V, lemon flavour, was a temporary addition to the V lineup that I actually rather liked. Mother, on the other hand, has always had a reputation for tasting largely like shite, even though the new formulation seems to just be another Red Bull/Monster Energy clone in a gigantic can. At least it doesn't taste like the old formula.

Yep, still clearer. Nice flash, too.
Yep, still clearer. Nice flash, too.

Moving right along:

  • Pimp Juice, inspired by the Nelly song (angels and ministers of grace defend us) with its semi-cool packaging
  • Bennu Extra has some supremely elegant can design, which I like, but suffers from the unfortunate failing of tasting like degreaser
  • Hiro Vitality, a curious sports-energy health drink containing all sorts of strange things that have no business being in a beverage, plus guarana and a whopping 7 calories
Mmm, cans.
Mmm, cans.

Aaaaand there's more:

  • Buzz Me, a curious honey-based organic energy drink. If there's any drink that I'll bet money has gone horribly wrong in my garage, it'll be these. I suspect they're turning to mead as we speak
  • Ed Hardy Energy Drink. Jesus Christ, he's everywhere
  • Synergy -- not 100% sure, but I believe this one's sugar free
  • Pink: an energy drink targeted at the lay-dees, also sugar free because bitches don't need no sugar
  • Citron: Liquid Energy. Ten points to this one for it's metal-band-inspired packaging and extensive flavour range: Raspberry Splash, Tropical Azul, Original and Pineapple Passion
  • Spring Valley Smart Energy, with its spectacularly dubious option of Blood Orange and Chilli. It tasted largely how you'd expect. Like blood orange and inexplicable burning, with all the joy of vitamin B and guarana peeking out from below, mocking you and ensuring every belch thereafter will remind you of your sins
oh look, he's a nerd
oh look, he's a nerd

But wait, there's more!

  • Samedi, a subcontinental contribution with cool packaging
  • Solo Strong: The Thirst Crusher with some guarana added to it
  • High Roller Energy, with its horrid can design
  • Bad Girl Power Drink, released some time after its brother, Bad Boy Power Drink. Aimed at the female contingent, I presume it's sugar-free, and is probably pink in colour
  • Mother, the original. Excuse me, whilst I lose the will to live
  • Elixa, with some astoundingly good can art
  • Angel, a low-carb, no-sugar disaster in a fairly cool can
  • Demon, made by the same folks as Angel, in three different flavours
  • Rock, a Red Bull clone that has since appeared in voluminous quantities in The Reject Shop

Y'know what the sad part is? There're still more of them. Many, many more. Stand by, there'll be a sequel.

Exotic beverage review: Battery Energy Drink

It looks like a battery, albeit with no negative terminal.
It looks like a battery, albeit with no negative terminal.

I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to be able to pop open a D-cell battery and drink the energetic goodness inside. I have my doubts, however, that it would be a particularly tasty experience. Particularly after third-degree chemical burns have taken your tastebuds out of the equation. Nevertheless, the solution presents itself: Battery Energy Drink.

It looks like beer. Without a head. Not surprising, as it's imported by Fosters.

Much to my chagrin, it doesn't smell like battery acid at all. Instead, it smells like a generic energy drink. My hopes are dashed!

It's quite pleasant, indeed. It has a fuller flavour that other "generic" energy drinks (read: Red Bull clones), and it seems a bit sweeter. It's definitely much nicer than sucking on a Duracell.

When warm, it suffers a bit. It becomes rather floury and generally unpleasant. I don't know why I include this review criteria when all of the drinks usually have "serve chilled" written on them. I just like the pain. Mm, tasty pain.

I've had a lot worse. It comes in a larger, 330ml can than most energy drinks, which is a bonus, and it did seem to perk me up as I wrote this review and played a bit of Tetris. So that's something.

Exotic beverage review: Superman

Be careful near phone booths with this drink.
Be careful near phone booths with this drink.

It's not often I get to try a drink that has a theme tune. DUH DADA DA DA, DAAA DAAA DAAAAAAA! Yay, Superman. This is an exclusive of Woolworths supermarkets in Australia, and according to the can:

"SUPERMAN Energy Drink is a deliciously refreshing energy drink that contains Taurine and Caffeine. It helps to charge physical & mental performance throughout the day by providing extra energy power to your body."

Intriguing. A drink that claims to last all day!

It's red. It's very, very red. Upon initial pouring, it actually produces a small amount of red foam, which is possibly the coolest thing ever. Did I mention it's red?

It smells like kryptonite. Or what I'd imagine kryptonite would smell like. If kryptonite was made of Red Bull, anyway.

It doesn't taste as red as it looks. It's quite similar to Red Bull, my perennial benchmark, but it's not as sweet. As a result, the base flavours of vitamin-B and caffeine show through a lot more. This doesn't actually make the drink unpleasant, though, it's oddly refreshing to drink an energy drink that doesn't have the horrid oily sweet flavour trying valiantly, but in vain, to hide the flavours that are "good for you".

It doesn't hold up to the warm drink test. All sweetness disappears entirely, leaving only bitterness and defeat. It's like drinking Lex Luthor's urine. If Lex Luthor's urine tasted like turpentine and vitamins.

The aftertaste of B-vitamins is stronger than usual, presumably because the masking flavours are thinner than usual. It's not exactly pleasant, but I've definitely had worse.

It gets points for being so freakin' RED. It gets points for having fairly awesome can art (although I personally think it's got too much silver and not enough super). It gets points for being called Superman.

I have no complaints about this drink. It's pleasant. I think Superman would approve.

Exotic beverage review: Bullit Energy Drink

Bullit. Or BulLit. Or bulLIT. I'm not sure.
Bullit. Or BulLit. Or bulLIT. I'm not sure.

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for some time. A few months ago, I was kindly sent a package of three energy drinks from the Netherlands. (Actually, I was sent four, but one of them sadly exploded in the mail, leaving only the remaining three. Which were quite sticky.)

I've already sampled two of them, and found them to be average and disturbingly sugar-free.

I've been told, however, that the subject of this review, Bullit, is a particularly awesome example of an energy drink. At the risk of jumping to conclusions, I can't help but think:

a) it's got to be different to Red Bull. If this has been quantified as being better than other drinks, then I'm assuming it's not a Red Bull clone, which is a relief. I've sampled eleventy squillion drinks that are just Red Bull in a re-painted can, and I'm sick of it, already.

b) it may not taste as great as I'm expecting. I returned the favour by sending a package of three energy drinks from Australia back to the Netherlands. The package contained Hype, V and Mother. You can read my opinions of those drinks on the reviews I've linked to, there. In short, I don't mind Hype and V, and I think Mother is the piss of Satan's ugliest aunt. Mark, who was kind enough to send me the four Dutch drinks, disliked both Hype and V. So you'll understand my hesitation in sampling Bullit.

c) it's got the motherfucking Vetruvian Man on the can, which means it's awesome even if it tastes like brake fluid. This one gets bonus points all over for can art.

It's standard Energy Drink Yellow(tm). So far, so good.

It smells basically like (wait for it), Red Bull.

Okay, so it's not Red Bull. It's floral, it's slightly bile-flavoured, it's really well carbonated. It's kinda generic, but not at all unpleasant. (Or maybe I'm becoming seasoned.)