Monday, November 17, 2008

Raw Dawg Sugar-Free

Many people detest sugar-free drinks for a few reasons. Some are used to real sugar sweeteners and won't stand for the taste of the artificial sweeteners. Others will say these artificial sweeteners are bad for one's health. What sugar-free drinkers and advertising will tell you is that sugar-free drinks have virtually no calories or carbs and therefore are healthier than sugared drinks. Regardless of what your view is on the health of artificial sweeteners, the fact remains that sugar-free drinks are a hit and many people actually prefer them. This may seem odd, but when you've had so many, like Chan and I have, you gain a new perspective and see that sugar-free drinks have their unique and favorable qualities.

Well, why do I bring up sugar free drinks? Because I'm reviewing the Raw Dawg Sugar Free, since I was feeling like a sugar free drink tonight. What I find interesting about this can is that when I look at it, the first thing that pops into my head is "sugar-free," not "Raw Dawg," as you would expect. To me, this means Raw Dawg has a weak image, since it doesn't really get me excited, on account of the busy and messy can design on a sliver background. But you can't judge a drink solely on its can design, so I'm prepared now to open it up.

My first smell reminds me of those budget drinks you find in small markets, with the generic weak, sugary, Monster clone flavor. Since this is a sugar-free drink, I think I can bet on this drink being less sugary and bland than those cheap drinks. As I take another deep whiff, I realize this is that generic artificial strawberry and it almost saddens me because I had been hoping for something more original. Now, as I pour the drink out into a cup, I notice a very nice deep rose color I wish I'd seen in more drinks. This color is really nice, but I'm not too optimistic about the taste, considering I just noticed the Splenda logo on the can. My first sip reveals that same exact mild strawberry under some fine and stinging carbonation, giving this drink nice texture. After the carbonation clears, The strawberry is still there, but with an odd aftertaste that's part salty, part bitter, part sour. There's all sorts of odd flavors from the artificial sweetener, even gnarly gumminess, but I can't easily identify sweetness in the drink. I would assume it's that illusion of sweetness you get with pure Sucralose, but quickly checking the ingredients, I oddly find Ace-K and Sucralose. I hate to say it, but I think Raw Dawg hasn't done a very good job at all at sweetening this drink artificially. The Splenda was a very bad idea, if you ask me, considering it gives the drink a terrible aftertaste, slightly lessened by the Ace-K. As I finish this drink, I'm dissatisfied, wishing the flavor weren't so generic and boring, the sweetener so poorly executed.

As if I weren't bored enough already with this drink, I have to examine the ingredients. I see Water, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid, Caffeine, Taurine, Red 40, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride, Yellow 5, Cyanocobalamin, Guarana Extract, Epimedium-Aerial Portion.

Well, this list is a bit different that most I've encountered and I'm curious about certain interesting ingredients in it. First odd ingredient I noticed was Dipotassium Phosphate, which I find out quickly is simply Phosphoric Acid, that commonly found in soft drinks. The other oddity in this ingredient list is something called "Epimedium-Aerial Portion," something I would associate with aviation or aircraft. What my first search led me to was a poorly designed vitamin website, which started to worry me. But I soon realized Epimedium is actually a weed which is believed to act as an aphrodisiac. The rest of this ingredient, "Aerial Portion" must refer to the top part of the leaf, though I don't know what significance that has.

Anyway, the sweeteners are Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium, a combination I've tried many times before. In my experience this is not a bad combination, but Raw Dawg poorly uses these two ingredients to convince me there was only Splenda as a sweetener. And for your information, that's never good, considering Splenda is a disgusting sweetener. Overall, I can't find one good think about the drink itself; the taste was bland and a bit nasty, the kick virtually nonexistent and the can design doesn't get me too excited. But there's one good thing in all this - Raw Dawg has a lot of room to improve.

Taste: 4.5 - Completely disliked the sucralose/ace-k sweetener, though I don't usually
Kick: 5 - Hardly noticable, to me at least
Overall: 4.7 - I can't recommend this drink in the least

Reviewed by: Jeff

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Jeffery "Jeff," Chandler "Chan"