I’ve had caffeine on a daily basis since I was, heck, 5 years old? 6? I’m not sure exactly how far back I’ve been drinking soda, but I remember being overwhelmed by all the Shasta options in a grocery store at a really young age, so it was definitely when I was in single digit territory.
For years, soda was the only way I consumed caffeine until I switched to coffee somewhere around high school. At that time, those were pretty much the only two options; soda, or coffee/espresso.
However, while the last ten years or so has been rough for America economically, Caffeine Delivery is one area that’s enjoyed a boom. First was Jolt, which was basically just a souped-up soda. Then Red Bull, followed by a swarm of (mostly terrible) energy drinks. I don’t even remember all of them. Monster… Bawls….. Amp… Cocaine…. Assault…. Full Throttle…..Mountain Dew MDX…. Xtreme Overload…. Rockstar…. Twitchy…. at least some of those were/are real. Fifteen years ago you could walk into a gas station and leisurely study the four or five options available to you before calmly deciding on your caffeine method of choice. Now, you’re assaulted by an overload of choice as huge buckets of acid-tasting energy drinks line the aisles and the freezers are crammed with a plethora of ridiculously-named products that promise to punch your brain awake.
Lately, the innovation in this arena has slowed. There was 5 Hour Energy and its knockoffs, which are all essentially just energy drinks in a smaller but more potent form. Yawn. There was the innovative Sparks and Four Loko, but they ran into trouble for predictable reasons. And I think there’s been a few weird things like caffeine gum and caffeine mouth spray and who knows what else.
I think that basically all of the above-mentioned items are terrible. I drink coffee, and sugar free Red Bull, and that’s it. But I still find it kind of interesting as it seems like the kind of industry that feels pressure to keep expanding and innovating, but is now in the dregs where there’s not much more to do than initiate crappy knockoffs of existing things, or come up with weird, gimmicky options. I suppose in another twenty years there will be something amazing that will come along, like a cyber-valve you medically attach to your arm and simply twist a little whenever you need a boost of caffeine, sending a shot directly into your veins in whichever flavor you feel like. But until that glorious day arrives, we’re probably stuck with weird and gimmicky caffeine products.
Such as, Sheets. As far as I know, this is a new product, as I just heard about it recently (although, maybe I’m wrong and they’ve been in production since the early 1980s, ruining the premise of this post). They remind me of those Listerine Packs— you Take a Sheet (that’s their slogan), put in on your tongue, let it dissolve, and you’re good to go.
I just tried two of them for the first time, in the Cinnamon Rush flavor, about twenty minutes ago. It tasted pretty disgusting. I don’t really know how cinnamon is typically packaged, but imagine that the process yields Good Cinnamon that goes into jars and on top of Cinnabons and all that, but leaves behind a small percentage of waste. It feels like some smart factory worker had a flash and said, “Instead of taking this waste and feeding it to hogs, why don’t we turn it into small sheets and trick people into putting it on their tongues?” It definitely resembles the taste of cinnamon, but has a weird and unpleasant bitterness to it as well, giving the impression that they messed up something and said ‘Screw it.’
Of course, no one eats this crap for the taste, so the relevant question is whether or not it works. I think so? I feel kind of wired right now but I also drank a double latte before trying this, so in the scientific sense I totally screwed up this experiment.
Verdict: pretty gross, kind of stupid, unclear if they work or not. Will try again.