Rush. Liquid Ice. New York Minute. These all sound like the names of rock bands or illegal drugs. The truth is they are all eight-ounce cans of heavily caffeinated liquid energy. They are the direct descendants of Jolt Cola, a briefly popular drink that delivered a mighty wallop of caffeine in a 12-ounce can. Jolt never quite hit the big time, but this new generation of supercharged soft drinks has.
Now caffeinated energy drinks have overtaken bottled water as the fastest growing category in the beverage business. With nearly 200 offerings, from Airborne to Yohimbe, with stops along the way at Dark Dog, Mad Croc and Raw Dawg, it isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t hard to imagine them leaving sales of bottled water in their caffeine-fuelled dust.
Virtually all drinks are sold in an 8-ounce can. All contain caffeine, guarana (a chemical substance with characteristics similar to caffeine), or a combination of both. Some use ginseng as well, for extra stimulation. Typically, an energy drink delivers the kick of a strong cup of coffee, which has about 80 milligrams of caffeine.
All energy drinks also include vitamins and obscure ingredients marketed as restorative or health-promoting. Vitamin C and all the B's lead the list. Then there's taurine, a chemical compound whose name, from the Latin for "bull," has apparently given rise to the misconception that it is derived from bull testicles. Its effects are unknown. Gingko is popular too. Most energy drinks are sweetened with sucrose or fructose, are carbonated and aim for a vaguely citrus flavour that is somewhat like that of 7-Up.
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