In the beginning, there was Red Bull, and it was said that Red Bull "gives you wings." At its stateside genesis in 1997, the little silver can that could stood alone on the frontier of a new market, soon-to-be-borne of the "energy drink" craze. Now energy drinks have gone forth and multiplied, to the point where every company from Coca-Cola to Snapple has gotten in on the trend, and every celebrity seems to have their own signature blend, whether they're alive to endorse them (Ed Hardy) or not (The Jimi Hendrix Liquid Experience).
So what makes an energy drink stand out from the copious herds these days? The one thing all of them are supposed to have in common is a formula that includes sugar and B vitamins; they all provide some sort of energy rush, whether sustained (that'd be thanks to the B vitamins) or quick (a cheap and brief sugar rush). Since the effect is essentially the same, we are left with just one (albeit very important) measuring stick of an energy drink's quality: taste.
Let's be honest: A lot of energy drinks taste like Pixie Stix dissolved in Kool-Aid, and can have an effect on the stomach not unlike trying to digest battery acid. This week, I tried yet another of the gazillion energy drinks on the market: Killer Buzz. And I was pleasantly surprised on a couple fronts.
For starters, it tastes pretty good, similar to regular Monster Energy (the green label), which I think is the best-tasting energy drink on the market right now. For those who have never tasted Monster, it resembles a super-fruity, carbonated green apple soda. Killer Buzz has the same green apple taste, but it's much more sugary, and has an aftertaste that's kind of like chewing on mini-marshmallows.
Looking at the ingredients label, it's obvious that Killer Buzz follows the standard energy drink formula: sugars (27 grams), Riboflavin (80 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance), Niacin (50 percent of the RDA), Vitamin B6 (170 percent of the RDA), Vitamin B12 (40 percent of the RDA), and Pantothenic Acid (25 percent of the RDA).
But wait -- what's this? A gram of protein? Protein in my energy drink! Awesome. How?
Well, the recipe for Killer Buzz actually includes something a little different: a proprietary blend of 17 amino acids known as "GHAA." That sounds really cool until you learn GHAA stands for "Giant Hornet Amino Acid," which is not the same amino acid that humans produce and consume. In fact, GHAA is a synthetic version (i.e., somebody made it in a lab) of secretions of giant hornet larvae, which the adult hornets usually eat. In other words, I'm drinking imitation hornet larvae puke. Mmm.
I guess that wouldn't be so bad if there was a noticeable boost in my energy level. But honestly, I didn't feel any differently than if I had drank a can of Red Bull to get some wings to go with my hornet buzz.
In summation, the energy boost of Killer Buzz is pretty standard, and the taste is slightly above average. It's unlikely this drink will give Red Bull or Monster any real competition, but it's certainly better than say, a can of sugar water that sells for $3 just because it has Ed Hardy's art mass-produced on the front.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.