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Tab Energy and Other Ginseng Disasters

By Hanna Aronovich in Food on Jun 13, 2006 3:16PM

What with our parties and on-the-go lifestyle, Chicagoist is looking for extra energy in any way we can get it. And, we're not opposed to getting our fix in bar and/or carbonated form. The rest of the country it seems is on the same page.

At the All Candy Expo last week at McCormick Place, food and candy manufacturers introduced a bevy of energy-infused products. Caffeine-filled gum, gaurana-enhanced breath strips and electrolyte-laced jelly beans were on display at the show.

In the interest of getting by on a few less hours' sleep, Chicagoist checked out some energy-boosting products to see how they stacked up. The most functional product we tried was the Jelly Belly Sport Beans. With electrolytes and Vitamins C and E, the Sport Beans come in a small package that can easily be taken on long runs or bike rides. Although the phrase "take additional beans as needed" on the package made us giggle, we think these could be a good Gu substitute. As for taste, they were only slightly tangier than regular jelly beans.

Hershey's has also gotten on the protein bar bandwagon. We tried the SmartZone Crunch (chocolate brownie flavor) and the PayDay Pro (peanut and caramel flavor). The SmartZone bar had that awful chalky texture all too common in energy bars, and we think the Balance Bar Gold Crunch bar is a tastier choice. The PayDay Pro, however, tasted just like the candy bar and we gobbled it up. It was gooey, though, and we think it would melt if taken on a long trip. tab-energy-drink.jpg

Now, we’re hardcore Diet Coke fans, and Tab Energy did nothing to change that. If you like Red Bull, you’ll probably like Tab Energy, but we could barely choke it down. It had a sweet, but tangy citrus flavor, plus another flavor we couldn’t pinpoint. (What do ginseng and taurine taste like?) We like the retro-looking pink can, but with Red Bull’s strong brand and celebrity use, we don’t think Tab Energy is much competition.

Our taste testings weren’t a complete success, but we think we’ve got enough fuel to make up for our lack of a full eight hours. How do you get your jolt?