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Can’t stay awake? Problem solved!

You’re hunched over your computer, eyes struggling to focus through tiny slits, fingers tapping the keys and stringing words together with no apparent connection. Grateful Dead’s “Tangled Up in Blue” is playing on repeat on Winamp. Your body is running on its last dregs of adrenaline. You aren’t drunk or clinically depressed — you are merely very, very tired, with a 25 page paper for Ancient Mayan Civilizations due the next day. What to do? The solution is simple: caffeine.

Ah, caffeine, the substance of the Gods for any sleep-deprived, procrastinating college student. The only barrier is the endless options available. Caffeine no longer comes down to a plain cup of Joe. Any and every Starbucks is filled with the wails and frantic shrieking of a suit who had his order of an extra-hot-double-shot-low-fat-skim-milk cappuccino destroyed with a quarter of a millimeter too much foam. And it doesn’t end with just cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and frappacinos. Pay Campus Convenience a quick visit and find a lower-priced drink with the same (or a larger) amount of caffeine as in coffee.

To begin, there’s the obvious choice: JOLT Cola. According to their website, “JOLT is popular with entertainers, musicians, computer programmers and just about anybody who burns midnight oil. Often these are America’s hardest working people. Occasional exhaustion is part of a demanding lifestyle. And JOLT is a perfect solution … delivering great taste and thirst quenching stimulation. JOLT, the espresso of colas.”

JOLT contains 71.5 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. bottle or can. That is twice that of Coke, and 54 percent more than Mountain Dew. Therefore, the slogan on every bottle, “CaffeineX2,” is true to its promise. JOLT is one of the most popular coffee-alternative drinks, winning the hearts of many young Americans who haven’t experienced rapid eye movement in years.

CAS freshman and JOLT drinker Kathleen McCarthy describes it as “Heroin in liquid form. So bad, yet so good. You know that scene in ‘Trainspotting’ where Renton is sprawled on the ground, twitching in ecstasy? That’s how JOLT makes me feel.”

JOLT sells for a trifling $1.59 at CampCo, as opposed to the $2.50+ Starbucks or any other over-priced franchised coffee shop will likely charge. Not to mention, JOLT comes in five flavors: Original, Citrus Climax, Cherry Bomb, White Lightening and Orange Blast. Regular JOLT is less sweet than Coke or Pepsi, and has that unexplainable zing that can get you through a night of torture.

According to the makers of Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, “Doing the ‘Dew’” is like no other soft drink experience because of its “daring, high-energy, high-intensity, active, extreme citrus taste.” Right. More accurately, Mountain Dew tastes like horse urine, making it impossible to enjoy. Nevertheless, regular Mountain Dew contains 37 mg of caffeine per 8 fluid oz. The beverage also comes in diet, regular caffeine-free and diet caffeine-free, and is a mere $1.37 at CampCo. Mountain Dew’s glowing, bubbling green color gives it the appearance of some kind of radioactive plasma. Not surprisingly, the inclusion of the ingredient yellow 5 in the drink has been said to be spermicidal. Mmm … chug a lug, boys!

Coca Cola launched its newest citrus drink, Surge, in hopes of rivaling Mountain Dew. Coca Cola also hoped to attract fans by packaging Surge in 12 oz. cans with wide mouths for easier, longer and larger gulps. The citrus flavor of Surge is significantly more tolerable and refreshing than Mountain Dew. However, its energizing capabilities are lacking due to the fact that it contains a pitiful 35 mg of caffeine per 8 oz.

Although not available in most stores, Water Joe, created by WaterConcepts, Inc. is growing more popular as a coffee and soda alternative. Water Joe is the first caffeine enhanced artisan water, invented by a college student who did not like the taste of coffee or colas but needed to stay awake during those late nights. Each 16.9 oz. bottle of Water Joe is the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee, or 60 mg.

As advertised by its website, “Water Joe is a coffee/cola alternative that contains no calories, sugars, preservatives or carbonation and best yet … IT TASTES JUST LIKE WATER.”

The caffeine amount in Water Joe is significantly larger than Surge or Mountain Dew, and the complete lack of flavor offers an excellent substitute for non-soda drinkers. Water Joe costs $25 for 24 16.9 oz. bottles online, including shipping, making it one of the cheaper possibilities. Plus, you don’t have to walk the horrid, grueling three steps to CampCo, battling the elements all the while, just to purchase a bottle. It’s all about mom and dad’s “emergency” credit card.

For those who tire easily, are chronic over-achievers, grow weary of coffee’s aftertaste or enjoy infusing massive amounts of caffeine into their bodies without having to fork over ridiculous amounts of cash, the right coffee alternative drink is nothing short of a blessing. Drink them to write a paper, do problem sets or solve world disasters. And remember, sleep is for the weak.

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