comments_image Comments

Red Bull, Rockstar and Now Pimp Juice? Buzz-Infused Energy Drinks are a Window Into Young Men's Fantasies

Why pay $3 for the same buzz that could be brewed for pennies at home? Because of all the virility and vigor promised by exotic-sounding ingredients.

Continued from previous page


"Such combined use," ventures the Johns Hopkins study, "may increase the rate of alcohol-related injury." Ya think?

"Represent Crunk!!! on your college campus!!!" the drink company's Web site begs. "Introduce your friends to Crunk!!! Host Crunk!!! events! Become the Crunk-Master of your campus!!!" Participants in its "College Ambassador Program" are promised "free Crunk!!! Stix for finals." A hundred milligrams of caffeine is in each of these three-gram packets of powder, to be poured onto tongues Pixy Stix-style.

Wherever young men go, so do energy drinks. The Radioactive Energy Drink Bus Tour sent a 45-foot luxury bus sporting the company's hazard-symbol logo and "Catch the glow!" slogan to nightclubs nationwide, hosting ''glow parties'' featuring spokesmodels, reality-TV stars, go-go dancers and DJs. On the USC campus last year, Radioactive sponsored Global Game Jam, a 48-hour marathon video-game competition.

Gamers are prime energy-drink targets, and some drinks are made just for them. Mountain Dew scheduled the releases of its Game Fuel drinks to promote Halo 3 and World of Warcraft. Ryan Van Cleave, whose memoir Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video-Game Addiction will be published next month, was a steady customer during those addled years when his entire life was devoted to World of Warcraft.

"I simply drank the heck out of Rockstar and various high-energy ginseng drinks to the tune of about three liters a day," Van Cleave says. "What happens is that you end up skipping meals. ... Sure, you can choke down a Hot Pocket or some beef jerky once in a while since it's all portable, but most serious gamers I know simply chug soda and down energy drinks like they own stock in the manufacturing company," says Van Cleave, who remembers watching individual gamers downing entire 12-packs of Red Bull in single gaming sessions. The "massive crash" always came later.

"It wasn't uncommon for me during my heavy gaming years to pull a 30-hour session -- fueled primarily through energy drinks -- and then follow it with a 15-hour 'nap.'"

Meanwhile, Pimp Juice offers free song downloads. "Shake Ya Caboose" is playing right now.

Anneli Rufus is the author of several books, most recently The Scavenger's Manifesto (Tarcher Press, 2009). Read more of Anneli's writings on scavenging at

See more stories tagged with: