Taste Test: Red Bull Cola

Due
to popular demand and the fact that we love trying weird foods and candies, The
A.V. Club will now regularly feature "Taste Tests." Feel free to suggest
disgusting and/or delicious new edibles for future installments: E-mail us at tastetest@theonion.com.

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Red
Bull Simply Cola

I
entered this Taste Test skeptical, as did most of my test helpers. The world
already has a perfect cola drink, and despite what you may think about
mega-corporations and high-fructose corn syrup, you have not invented a nectar
as sweet or as satisfying as Coca-Cola. If and when you do, I will invest my
meager savings in your IPO, and I will wear a T-shirt with your logo on it
every single day.

Now,
I'm not saying that all other drinks are shit and Coke Is It. Hell, I'll drink
another cola if that's all they serve at a restaurant. (Kyle won't, but that's
an angry letter to the editor for another day.) Pepsi's fine at the movies
(though I'd probably go Sierra Mist in that case), but if there's a
choice—and this is America, dammit, so there's often a choice between
exactly two similar things—it's Coke. And before you tell me I'm
contaminating my body, I don't really drink Coke that often. It's a treat. And
it's fucking delicious. And perfect.

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I
don't drink Red Bull. I don't like Red Bull. It tastes bad, and it makes me a
little jumpy. Worse than that, it's got that sharp aftertaste that most energy
drinks do, which I always assume is taurine, but in fact, I have no idea. I
just know it's icky. (To me. You can like it if you want. Live and let live.)
At the
National Association Of Convenience Stores Convention this year
, when
young ladies with refrigerated backpacks tried handing me cans of what I
thought was Red Bull, I declined. But they kindly explained that this was a new
product: Red Bull Simply Cola. No taurine. Not an energy drink. Just a new,
all-natural cola product being test-marketed only at Speedway. The Red Bull
company also had a gigantic booth set up, and little plastic cubes featuring
each of the soda's natural ingredients so you could look at it up close. Have
you ever seen an orange displayed as if it were the Crown Jewels? It was like that.

What
are those flavors, you ask? I will not only type them here for you, I will
offer you some visual information from a Red Bull Simply Cola pamphlet as well.
Coca leaf, kola nut, lemon/lime, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, pine, corn mint,
galangal, vanilla, ginger, mace, cacao, licorice, orange, mustard seeds. "Holy
shit," you are likely thinking. "I just want some corn syrup, water, and
artificial coloring! What have I gotten myself into?" Well, Red Bull wants you
to know that their new cola can "do without a secret formula." (Take that,
Coke!) They also want you to know that it's "100% pure cola." I'm not sure what
the standards are for that. You'll notice that it includes kola nut and coca
leaf, which most colas no longer use. (Though Blue Sky natural cola and the
Whole Foods house brand do.) It also promises to be "strong & natural," a
promise previously made to me by douche, condoms, diapers, and a transvestite
hooker, so I took it with a grain of salt.

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Taste:
I told you
up top that I was prejudiced going in, but I also told you that I've got an
open mind about these things. If Red Bull Simply Cola were better than Coke, I
might weep a little bit—but then I would switch to Red Bull Simply Cola.
But I don't need to. Our testers, in a rare display of unanimity, disliked it.
There were varying degrees of dislike, but nobody hopped up to defend it.

Most
everybody commented on the strange aftertaste, which reminded me of the
short-lived, caffeine-averse Like Cola from the early '80s—probably
because that stuff also contained the kola nut. But there's just so much going
on in this RBSC that it's tough to enjoy. There's the bitterness of lemon, the
weird overpowering combo of spices, and an overall tartness that lingers and
lingers and lingers. Maybe this is soda aimed at tough guys or at granola-heads
who think regular soda is too sweet. But there's no difference in the amount of
sugar between this and a Coke, so who really wins? Not me.

There's
no contest. Sorry, Red Bull Simply Cola, you have been pwned. Did I say that
right?

Office
reactions:


"As a strident Coke loyalist, I'm tough to woo, and this doesn't do it. It
tastes like flat generic cola, though it's missing the sweetness."

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"I'm not a Red Bull fan, and this isn't gonna make me start now. Give me Coke
or give me death!"


"This reminds me of the cheap-ass Big K Cola, Kroger's house brand, that they'd
give us after soccer practice as a kid. I'm having flashbacks to sweat and shin
guards."

— "Are you sure you didn't accidentally give me a cup
full of air freshener?"

— "I'm trying to think of a context where I would
want to drink this. If I wanted a cola, I wouldn't reach for this, but it's not
so bad I can say I'd never drink it again." "By context, do you mean what
alcohol you want to mix it with?"

— "They shouldn't call it cola. Fail on the part of
the Red Bull marketing team."


"You can really taste the mustard seed."


"It tastes like carpet. Non-delicious carpet."


"This is not good. No one will ever buy this."


"I'm pretty sure my breath is amazingly bad right now."

Where to get it: The Red Bull
reps told us it was being sold only in Speedway stores; the Red Bull website
implies that it's currently available only in Las Vegas.

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