April 18, 2015

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost carries more water than the original

Can the new Kickstart replace coffee?
Happy Saturday morning, foodies!

Some of you are looking a little bleary eyed — a few too many Guinness potato chips last night, eh? Well you're in luck, because this morning I'm breaking down a beverage that seemingly aims to be the perfect follow-up to a long, hard night out: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost.

The formula is similar to that of the original Mountain Dew Kickstart breakfast soda, except coconut water has been added for its supposed hydration benefits. The can's smaller, too, coming in at 12 oz. versus the original Kickstart can's 16 oz. That could be a good sign, because based on my feelings about Kickstart the first time around, the less you drink, the better.

This new beverage mutation comes in flavors humbly titled "Energizing Strawberry Kiwi" and "Energizing Pineapple Orange Mango." The word "energizing" might not technically be part of the name, per Mountain Dew's website, but it's on the can darned close to the flavor. Maybe it's there just in case you didn't get the message that a beverage called "Kickstart" in a skinny can might be an energy drink. Anyway, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I tried both to find out if they might be a decent substitute for my morning coffee.

Energizing Pineapple Orange Mango is underwhelming at best. There's simultaneously too much fake tanginess and not enough real citrus. It somehow manages to taste watery at the same time, too. I've tried a few other new citrus drinks hitting the market lately and had many of the same flavor complaints. Either my palate is off, or someone's mixing flavors wrong.

If you're going to drink one of these, drink Strawberry Kiwi.
Energizing Strawberry Kiwi is better. I could actually keep a can in the refrigerator without shuddering every time I opened the door. It's too sweet, yes, but it's also surprisingly appealing in a bubblegum pop sort of way.

Now let's talk about the fundamental problem with these drinks: They claim to be hydrating, yet they also contain caffeine. It's a conflict of interests, a crisis of self, an oxymoronic existence. And it's especially troubling because the cans play up their hydrating power while listing in much smaller text the fact that they contain nasty dehydrating caffeine.

Even worse, they're relatively light on the caffeine. My can of Energizing Strawberry Kiwi was listed at 68 mg per 12 oz. While I'm no doctor, that seems like just enough to kick the kidneys into overdrive without really waking up the brain. So you get the aqua-robbing power of caffeine canceled out by the hydration of coconut water and very little mental boost to boot.

Still, these are better than early versions of Kickstart. Their fundamental flaws tend to intrigue, rather than offend. Two-and-a-half sporks out of five and a bonus star for an interesting effort.

At the end of the day, though, you only need to know one thing. I'm still drinking coffee as I write this.

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