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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jolt Cola Makes a Comeback!

Kids today just have no idea how easy they have it! The past few years have been marked in the history books with this surge of energy drinks flooding the market - giving children and teenagers alike more energy than youth has ever known before. Amid the befuddled psychologists wondering if it's Attention Deficit Disorder or another order of attention-defying energy drinks at work, we adults can even admit to having a few in lieu of the generic coffeehouse fodder letting us work the nine-to-five without feeling like a lunchtime nap.

But for those who can remember...

Back in 1985, a drink hit the market. Created by Wet Planet, this beverage gave the up-all-night crowd a newer and stronger jolt to the system to cram longer, code faster, or work another thumb-callus in the arcade or on a Nintendo Entertainment System.

Not by coincidence, this beverage was named Jolt - and the marketing gurus took off.

Jolt has always maintained a few slogans, such as "The Coffee Alternative" and "Twice the Caffeine".

Don't get those two mixed up - a can of Jolt Cola has never tried to contain twice the caffeine as a cup of coffee. It does, of course, measure up to one, proving that it is indeed an alternative to coffee. A 12-ounce can of Jolt Cola contains 72mg of caffeine. The average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 70mg (but of course can vary from 60mg to 120mg, depending on the strength of your brand - the instant stuff is usually closest to 70mg). As for the "popular" colas on the market, Pepsi comes in at 38mg and Coca-Cola comes in at 34mg. And when you've got the Marble Madness, twice the caffeine per can of soda can really make the difference! (For those of you who, like me, Do the Dew, Jolt has 42% more caffeine. Sorry.)

So that was then - and this is now. What's so new about this 20-year-old cola?

The marketing gurus are at it again.

I was walking down the aisle where the energy drinks are kept, and the word "JOLT" emblazoned across the can just caught my eye. "Is it true," I exclaimed, "that you've finally returned, ol' pal?" Indeed, a giantesque can of Jolt Cola was staring back at me. The can itself is a bit of a marvel. It's shaped like a battery, with a plus sign on the nodular top, like you'd find on a battery. This is the look of the 23.5-ounce variety of Jolt Cola (the size the marketing geniuses focused on). What makes this can different from other cans of energy drink is that while it's an aluminum can, it's also resealable. Which is good, because I'm really not the kind of guy who wants to be chugging 23.5 ounces of what I already KNOW is a heavily-caffeinated powerhouse. There's also an ingenius dashed line running up the can that's SUPPOSED to show you how much Jolt Cola you have left in the can. Maybe mine wasn't working properly. Maybe it got warm too fast and ruined the effect. I just didn't see it happening, which was a bit of a letdown.

What WASN'T a letdown was the cola itself - the same tasty brew I consumed in my bounding-off-the-walls youth. As far as colas go, it's pretty standard. The caffeine itself doesn't mar the taste in any way, and while it's NOT a Coke or a Pepsi, it's just as tasty and full of cola flavor. It's got the same 27g of sugar you'd find in the other colas.

So now it comes down to the final ratings:

Appearance: 8 of 10

While I liked the nifty bottle, it's a little busy and the non-functioning meter was disappointing. Even so, the resealable cap more than made up for it and gave it a lot of bonus points.

Taste: 8 of 10

It's just as good as it ever was. Nothing spectacular to make it stand out by taste alone, but in no way bitter like many other caffeine- and taurine-laden drinks can be. A standard cola taste makes this energy drink all the more consumable.

Mouthfeel: 8 of 10

I like my energy drinks carbonated, and this one not only delivered like a regular cola, the resealable cap kept it fizzier longer. Unfortunately, resealing the cap does nothing to keep it cool, and we all know what a bummer warm cola can be. At least it wasn't warm FLAT cola... No aftertaste, no gritty feeling - just the occasional jolt-causing belch. The way it should be.

Energy: 7 of 10

While the cola packs the same punch as it ever did, the world around it kept evolving and perhaps our energy drink market-flood has desensitized me to the rush caffeine can give. It certainly kept me awake and alert, and I have extra energy that I'm assuredly wasting by typing a review, but it was nothing to write home about. And if you DID write home about it, your hand wouldn't be shaking all over the place. Which I suppose can be a good thing.

Overall: 8 of 10

What else can I say? It's got a long, rich history - and a rich taste to match. I wouldn't stay it's going to be setting a standard or setting the bar for the next one - this was just the first. I've got a list of energy drinks currently available on the market and a drive to continue reviewing. I hope you all enjoyed the review as much as I enjoyed this revamped blast from my past.

Blast? I meant "Jolt".

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