Non-beer Review: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Fruit Punch)

I wasn’t at Tuesday’s game, but apparently when the Canes came back from the All-Star break there were a few changes and debuts (some cooler than others). Among these was a new food promo from the folks at Kangaroo Express – if the Canes score in the first period of a home game, you can use the Kangaroo Express mobile app to get a free Mountain Dew Kickstart the following day (North Carolina only – sorry everyone else). Free anything is always good, so when the Canes kicked off the new addition to the holy food giveaway trinity (I’m sad I can’t call it that anymore) with an Eric Staal #LEADERSHIP goal 22 seconds (wait, seconds? Who is this team?) into the first period against Tampa, I elected to try out our newest promotion – for science.

The Kangaroo Express app has a “deals” section where you could access a coupon for the free drink, making it easier than shouting an embarrassing catchphrase into a drive-thru speaker and/or explaining to a cashier why you don’t have to pay for something. So, already, I’m liking this promo.

As for the product itself, I’ve intentionally avoided Kickstart (despite being a Mountain Dew fan) because of how it’s marketed – when it was first launched two years ago, it was geared to those looking for “an morning beverage alternative to coffee or juice”.

Breakfast soda.

When I picked it up and actually looked at the label though, I was surprised to see that it only had 80 calories per 16oz can – nearly 1/4 of what you’d find in an actual 16oz can of original Mountain Dew. As far as caffeine, there’s a little more than what’s in a regular Mountain Dew, but still less than there is in a cup of coffee. The “5% juice” announcement on the label is ripe to be mocked until you realize that the average “juice box” contains only 10% juice.

Oh, right – drinking it. I didn’t have high expectations going in, considering that energy drinks are generally vile and this one had the added bonus of having an artificial sweetener in it (what, you thought a 16oz soda could pull off 80 calories without help?). That said, it wasn’t bad. The fruit punch flavor definitely has a “Code Red” flavor going for it, and while the artificial sweetener aftertaste is there, it’s sucralose (Splenda) so it’s not as bad as it could be. Kickstart just uses straight caffeine instead of guarana or taurine which likely lessens the “energy drink” aftertaste. I kept it in the can so I could forget how much red dye I was consuming.

Ah yes, the can. Kickstart is sold in a 16oz tallboy can. That, combined with it commonly being found sold in convenience stores leaves Mountain Dew trying to shake the stigma out of drinking soda for breakfast by making it look like you’re drinking a Four Loko for breakfast. Which hey – maybe you want to look like that. I won’t judge you.

VERDICT: tolerable

WIN TICKETS vs. ST. LOUIS From @TaxiTaxiRaleigh!

The boys are back from the All Star break and looking to close out January on a strong (blue) note.

Our good friends over @TaxiTaxiRaleigh want to make sure you have a ticket to the game, and a good way to get there!  They have given us two tickets to give you, our loyal readers and podcast listeners, for Friday’s game.

So, how do you register to win this ticket package?  Its simple…

To enter to win, take a picture of a TaxiTaxi Raleigh cab around the Triangle in Instagram and tag the picture with @TaxiTaxiTriangle or simply tweet us a picture of one the cabs around town and tag it @taxitaxiraleigh.  We will collect all the pictures and pull a random winner Thursday afternoon which gives you plenty of time to plan your big Friday night.  So, pull out your mobile phone and get to snapping pictures around town. Please don’t take pictures while you are driving though.  That’s not safe, and we need each and every reader can get and can’t afford to lose any of you…

Taxi Taxi for the WIN!
Taxi Taxi for the WIN!

Canes Trade Odds- (Please Don’t) Place Your Bets!

Despite a 6-2-1 January record and the team looking (usually) like a team that’s better than the third worst in the league, the reality of the 2014-15 season is that the Carolina Hurricanes are not making the playoffs. And as is the rule for any team not thought to be within playoff reach by the All-Star break, the “players for sale” sign will go up (if it hasn’t already) and the fans will start questioning if their favorite player is going to be here when Casino Night rolls around.

I’ve heard the term “fire sale” thrown around whenever a team is considered to be a “seller” around this time. Fire sales are reserved for teams that had high expectations going into the season, failed, and want to “blow up the team”. This isn’t what’s going to take place in Carolina. If you’re unsure if your team is having a fire sale, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did your team make an irrational trade or trades, such as dealing two similar players but taking on more salary or getting older?
  2. Is your team’s management using terms like “change the culture”, “needed a shakeup”, and “veteran presence”?
  3. Is your GM Mike Milbury?

If you said yes to any of those questions, you’re having a fire sale. (And if you said yes to #3, seek immediate medical attention.)

That said, trades are going to be made. Is one of your favorites out the door? I consulted with the top oddsmakers in Las Vegas, and when none of them returned my calls, I just made up the odds myself. REMEMBER: These odds are for entertainment purposes only. No wagering.

Continue reading Canes Trade Odds- (Please Don’t) Place Your Bets!

Beer Review: Gizmo Brew Works Aztec Gold

Quick show of hands: how many of you would love to drink great local beer? For those who didn’t raise your hands, what the hell!? Survey time aside, the folks at Gizmo Brew Works here in Raleigh have produced one gem of an imperial chocolate stout.


Not only is this beer brewed locally, but it’s also made with locally roasted cocoa nibs (from Raleigh’s own Videri Chocolate Factory). That delicious chocolate aroma almost leaps out of the bottle as soon as you pop the cap. It’s sweet, but also rounded and rich smelling- not in any way a fake/chemical smell.

Like a good imperial stout should, Aztec Gold pours a deep black color that passes the (patent pending) “Mike Flanagan- Can I See Through It” test with flying colors. There’s not much of a head on this beer, nor is there a whole lot of carbonation. I’d say the texture is spot on for a beer of this style.

On to the flavors, and DAMN is there a lot of chocolate. Yes, it’s sweet. No, it’s not cloyingly sweet. This brew is 9.2% alcohol, which helps balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. Also, the presence of vanilla beans helps make this a well-rounded and balanced beer.

There’s some really nice dark fruit and dryness on the finish- flavors I appreciate in good dark chocolate.  At around $10 for a 22oz bottle, this isn’t the cheapest beer you’ll find, but I thought it was worth every penny!

Highly Recommended!

Cheaters Never Win Podcast- Mid-Season Superlatives Edition

The January success train keeps on rolling, and we’re handing out our best and worst of the season thus far. Chantel McCabe joins us to talk team chemistry, goaltenders getting along, and nearly being murdered by an errant puck. We enjoyed one hell of a delicious brew from Gizmo BrewWorks to help fuel us through various ranting and raving.

iTunes Link

Stitcher Link

Canes talk, Cheaters Never Win podcast, beer


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