Looking at a chart listing the caffeine content of various energy drinks can be eye-opening. It turns out that Red Bull, the granddaddy of energy drinks, has only 80 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as a cup of espresso, and less than the 108 mg that a cup of brewed coffee contains.
A lot of the traditional sodas have a fair amount of caffeine, like Coca Cola classic, with 35 mg, and Mountain Dew (yahoo!), with 55 mg. The Diet versions of these drinks have about the same amount of caffeine. Pepsi Cola has 38, though Pepsi Diet Lemon has 48 and Pepsi Diet Lime has 50. But not all soft drinks contain caffeine: Fresca and ginger ale have none.
Afri Cola, which I had never heard of before seeing the list, has 89 mg. (This drink must be for the FUBU crowd.)
But what's striking about most of the names the caffeine-pushers have chosen for their drinks is the way they've tried so hard to give them a macho, pedal-to-the-metal, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll image:
Adrenalyn Shot and Adrenalyn Stack each have 200 mg. (Why do some people consider misspellings cool?)
Ammo has 171. (Drink this and you'll be packin' some serious heat.)
Atomic Dogg has 200. (Evidently the image they wanted was Snoop with a nuclear weapon.)
Bawls has 67, But Bawls Exxtra has 150. (Get it -- balls? And if your "bawls" are double x-rated, that makes you exxtra sexy.)
Blow Energy Drink Mix has 240. ("Blow" is another term for cocaine, and of course that kind of job has positive connotations for most men, at least if they're on the receiving end.)
Boo-Koo Energy has a mind-blowing 360 mg. (Is this the Ragin' Cajun pronunciation of "beaucoup"?)
Brawndo has 200. (This is probably supposed to evoke Marlon in his younger days; had they wanted to evoke the actor as an older man, they could have called it "Brandoughboy.")
Bump has 197, CHARGE! Super Shot has 200, and Bull Tonik has 160. (The "bull" motif must be calculated to appeal to those men who -- like me --have spent most of their lives feeling more like a steer.)
Cocaine Energy Drink is listed as having 280. (I thought that after the outcry over its name this drink had been pulled from the stores.)
Crunk has 194. (That name seems to be a meld of crank, which is another name for methamphetamine, and crunch, which is either what wannabe he-men do to their beer cans or gay guys do with their abs. Come to think of it, it also sounds like "drunk," as in, drunk with the power you'll get if you imbibe some Crunk.)
Einstein Bros Coffee has 206. (It won't make you as smart as Albert, but it'll make you feel like you are.)
Fixx Extreme has 400. (Get used to that dosage and you'll soon be needing a regular fix.)
Full Throttle has 144, but Havoc only has 52. (You won't be able to wreak much on that relatively weak tea.)
Jolt Endurance Shot has 200, but Jolt Energy has 280. (Wouldn't you think you'd need more for endurance?)
Monster, Monster Assault, and Monster Heavy Metal each have 160, but Monster Hitman Sniper has 240. (In this case the badder-ass name, awkward as it is, lives up to its promise.)
Neurogasm -- no explanation necessary -- has only 50. (That must be why it's not called Multiplegasm.)
No Fear Bloodshot has 174. (Not a bad description of what a large dose of caffeine can result in.)
Pimp Juice has 81 (just enough to keep your pimp hand strong). And Player Aid Energy Shot has 120. (Though a real playa, in mah estimation, don't need nothin' extra.)
Howling Monkey, Java Monster, and Red Devil all have 160. (The latter has not yet achieved enough market share to elicit protests from Native Americans.)
Redline Power Rush has 350, and Redline Princess has 250. (Any princess who drinks that won't be bothered by a pea, though with that much caffeine in her system she'll need to pee, and often.)
Rockstar has 160, but Rockstar Citrus Punched has 240. (Somebody spiked that punch!)
Rumba Energy Juice has 170. (Evidently makes you ready to rumble.)
Speed Stack has 250, and Speed Stack Pumped N.O. has 300. (Both of these names will evoke steroids to anyone who's ever browsed through a "health" store.)
Rage and Ripped Force each has 200. (Two more steroid-evokers.)
Spike Shooter has 300, and Spike Double Shot has 350. (Someone at Spike should double check his math.)
A Starbucks Grande Coffee has 330. (Who knew those trendy Stuff-white-people-like types were such juiceheads?)
Vamp has 240. (Is this supposed to evoke a vampire or a drag queen vamping? One would think the former.)
Venom (which comes in three flavors, Black Mamba, Death Adder, and Mojave Rattler) has 160.
The "winner" is a drink called simply 5150 Juice, which contains a consciousness-altering, nerve-jangling, sanity-challenging 500 milligrams of caffeine. (Try drinking one of those and sitting still.)
I had a swimming meet this weekend, and forgot to bring along my usual Red Bull, so I stopped off at a supermarket and picked up a Venom Mojave Rattler, with twice the caffeine. I drank about two thirds of it, the equivalent of one and one sixth cups of coffee.
I've always stayed away from coffee since I don't want to get addicted to caffeine (and it is an addiction). I've also figured that if I did stay away, I'd be able to get extra high on just one cup if I ever really needed a lift. I've always had the same philosophy towards alcohol, figuring if I ever really needed to get drunk, it would be easier with a lower tolerance. And there have been plenty of occasions (otherwise known as "parties") where I've felt I've needed to get drunk in order to enjoy myself.
So now I have the capacity of a 13-year-old girl who weighs 105 pounds and gets tipsy on half a bottle of beer. (Some might find this shameful, but I have so much else to be embarrassed of in my life that this particular form of girlishness doesn't really concern me.) And I'm quite sensitive to caffeine.
In any case, after swimming the 200 fly (in 2:05.64, off my recent best of 2:04.97), my immediate reaction was: I want another try. This was partly a function of my disappointing performance, but it was also the Venom talking. (Unfortunately, masters meets aren't structured that way; you only get one chance.) It may also have been the Venom talking when I thought I was taking the first half of the race out faster than I actually was. Then again, that may just have been the usual patter from my always-caffeinated ego. (This was the same ego which had earlier informed me I was capable of a 2:03+.)
Despite my poor performance, the Venom did put me into a good mood for at least the first part of the four hour car ride home. As a matter of act, it made me feel 22 again.
Life is just a matter of choosing your poison -- whatever it's named -- and rationing it out in whatever doses and intervals suit you best.