At 9:33 a.m. this morning, I cracked open the Mountain Dew Energizing Fruit Punch Kickstart drink. And I'm happy to report at 3:09 p.m., despite my fears of keeling over from a soda that I haven't had a sip of since high school, I'm still kicking. Could it be the massive amounts of caffeine? That 5 percent juice lurking somewhere in a 16-ounce can? Clearly, that Dew has something going for it — I'm just not sure what.
It's the breakfast drink that's been reviled around the world — even more so than that Moutain Dew-charged "A.M." drink at Taco Bell — since it was announced last week. The "sparkling juice beverage" is only 80 calories, has real fruit juice (just 5 percent, though), and "just the right amount of caffeine," says the press release. After searching the label hastily for a few seconds, I finally found that caffeine label at the end of its ingredients — 92 milligrams for the 16-ounce can. Where does that fall on the scale of caffeinated beverages? According to a report released last week by the American Chemical Society, a Monster Energy Drink has the exact same amount of caffeine, 92 milligrams, per 8 ounces. That same report found that a regular brewed cup of coffee has about 133 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces, and a 5-Hour Energy shot has 215 milligrams of caffeine per 2 ounces. (And no one is forgetting that dangerously high amount found in a Starbucks grande cup of coffee.) And a 20-ounce serving of regular Mountain Dew has 90 milligrams of caffeine. So in the grand scheme of caffeinated beverages, you could do a lot worse — that is, if you like the taste of Hi-C punch.
That's right, the Fruit Punch flavor of the Kickstart drink is about on par with the stuff your mom packed you in your lunch boxes all those years ago. And with it, some high-fructose corn syrup, white grape juice concentrate (compared to the orange juice concentrate found in regular Mountain Dew), sucralose, and a mess of artificial dyes. But what makes the Kickstart different is the 100 percent daily value of vitamin C, 80 percent daily value of niacin and vitamin B, and 60 percent daily value of vitamin B6. It shouldn't be that surprising, given that vitamin B and B6 are often touted as high-energy ingredients. So maybe while I've been gulping down a drink so vibrantly red I should check my lips and teeth to see if they're red (just checked, they're not), I'm actually getting a load of vitamins, too. Of course, with that also comes 19 grams of sugar, and potentially some mouse-dissolving ingredients, so really, it just all evens out.
So am I bouncing off the walls like I assumed I would be? (Perhaps my fear of Mountain Dew stems from some particularly high-energy high school boys who shouted their love of the Dew from the rooftops, but I digress.) Not really. But I've also been too grossed out to finish more than one-fourth of the can.
Moral of the story: If you can stomach a fruit punch first thing in the morning, perhaps you've got yourself covered with Kickstart. Personally, I'll stick with the coffee — and all its 133 (potentially dangerous) milligrams of caffeinated goodness.