Lots of showbiz families seem to have famous/not-so-famous sibling(s) such as the Baldwin brothers, Ben & Casey Affleck and my personal favorite, Ron and Clint Howard. In the food world, the infamous Burger King (now mysteriously out of the limelight/possibly booked for lewd and lascivious behavior) happens to have a lesser known Mexican cousin, who goes by the name Frutiking (who I like to imagine wears a very colorful cape and has a sceptre topped with a pineapple).
Anyway, the newest trend with food products seems to limiting serving sizes in the hopes of curbing the obesity trend in America. Who hasn’t seen 100 calorie packets of Oreos, single serving cups of ice cream (so I won’t feel guilty about eating ice cream from the tub, not that I do anyway) and now miniature cans and bottles of soda.
I picked up “Red” (or “Punch”) and “Orange” flavored Frutiking mini-bottles from Saar’s a few months ago (you can also find them in the bulk section at Winco, bulk soda – who knew?) and they’ve sat in my fridge ever since so I figured it was about time to try them before they turn into Frutiking Wine. On their website, Mexicorp, the makers of Frutiking describe the Punch flavor as “A blend of yummy tropical flavors that give a powerful taste” and Orange is “A delicious sweet citrus taste that everyone loves”. The website also features the statement (though more like command): “You will begin a new flavor adventure”.
Like the ever popular Mexican Coca-Cola, Frutiking uses “real” sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. In terms of content, it’s still got less grams of sugar than the same amount of Coca-Cola (18g vs. 21.8g), but in my beverage experience, brightly-colored sodas generally pack a syrupy saccharine punch.
Upon opening both of the little bottles, I noticed a distinct lack of psshh! despite the first ingredient being carbonated water (agua carbonata, if you prefer). Now I don’t know if this is because of the age of the soda/chilling in my fridge forever or sub-par carbonated water, but I’ve never had a soda lose its fizz from just sitting around unsealed unopened.
Despite the flatness, I still took a swig of each flavor. The immediately reminded me of a long forgotten childhood favorite: unfrozen/melted Otter Pops, just like their Poncho Punch and Little Orphan Orange counterparts. However, now as an adult and hearing daily warnings of diabetes and heart attacks, sadly Otter Pops and other such sugary things are not so suited to my grown-up palate.
Ben's photos are much better than mine.
While I applaud Mexicorp/Frutiking for making little bottles, the soda was just too sweet for me to enjoy on a regular basis. The flavors were nothing out of the ordinary, but Frutiking also comes in Apple, Pineapple, Lemon (Lime) and Grape. Sad fact: only 18 people like Frutiking on Facebook so maybe it’s not just me? If you’re really curious to try Frutiking, maybe pick up some of the bulk bottles at Winco for a sugar-alternative to Halloween candy (they carry the Pineapple flavor too) and pick up a bottle for yourself.
Product: Annie’s Organic Tropical Treat Bunny Fruit Snacks
Purchased at: Valley Liquidation Price: 25 cents (one pouch)
Annie’s Homegrown claims their food products are organic and don’t utilize genetically modified organisms (GMO) but I’m pretty sure the high yield, low fat, high flavor “Bunny Fruit” is not a naturally occurring genetic variant of conventional fruiting species that I’m aware of. I mean I know that inter-specific hybrids are possible both in the animal and plant kingdoms which allow for all sorts of fancy hybrid organisms (especially hybrid organisms within the plant kingdom, though you can get mules and other organisms within the animal kingdom). However inter-kingdom hybrids just don’t happen outside of [insert Science Fiction of your choosing here]. No, the only thing that explains Annie’s Homegrown Tropical Bunny Fruit Snacks is through the use of transgenic organisms and genetic modification.
I know that meat sourced from free-range organic bunnies is supposed to be particularly tasty, low in fat, and easy on the environment so perhaps genetic material sourced from free-range organic bunnies makes the Annie’s Homegrown Tropical Bunny Fruit Snacks exempt from the USDA requirements. Or perhaps Annie discovered a small isolated island in the middle of the Atlantic with a harvestable plant that yields a semi-transparent, chewy, seedless fruit that just happens to resemble a rabbit. I’d bet Annie even enslaved moved some of the locals under an HB1 work visa to work on her farms to cultivate the fruit and protect her from industrial espionage.
Most tropical fruit products are heavy in pineapple flavorings and often carry a notably artificially flavored flavor that is often overly sweet and lacking in tartness that I’ve come to love from real tropical fruits. It’s as if everyone who’s involved in making “tropical” flavors have only tried canned pineapples, and a mango flavored smoothie. Well, Annie must have tasted some real tropical fruit because these actually have a remotely “tropical” flavor to them. While I still can’t say they taste anything like mango, dragon fruit, pineapple or lychee I will say that I enjoyed Annie’s interpretation of “tropical” flavors more than her competitors.
Her gummies did feel tackier and softer than other gummy snacks I’ve eaten which might cause some trouble on a hot day where I would expect these to simply turn into a sticky horrible mess. Parent’s should be aware that giving these to their kids is just asking for the “bunnies” to run away and end up crushed and melted into every surface they could possibly come in contact with, including but not limited to hair, carpets, pets, neighbors, and automotive upholstery. They also have the unique ability to stick to surfaces, which means they have an added ability that most gummy treats don’t have: they can defy gravity.
All things considered I would consider munching on another pack of Annie’s Bunny Fruit, in spite of my concerns about her use of genetically modified organisms. It was a pleasant change of pace from the standard “tropical” flavor without straying too far from the conventional western model of “tropical.” I would be aware that Annie’s gummies are softer, tackier, and more gravity defying than most gummy products so they may actually be a poor choice to give to children in your own home or automobile. However if you’re sending them off to school or a playmate’s house who cares? It’s not like you’re going to have figure out how to get them off of the walls.
Editor’s Note: I will delete any comments looking to start an argument about the use of GMOs in food products. We at Clearance Cuisine hold a neutral stance on the subject so you anti-GMO zealots can go spam your cause somewhere else.
Sometimes you just need to make fun of the celebrity endorsements that a product carries. Especially when the product is completely and utterly terrible. It makes you wonder how much the celebrity in question had to be paid to get their name linked with the product. In this case, I wonder how FRS Energy got Lance Armstrong to link his name with something that tastes and looks like the canned love child of powdered multivitamins and diluted Tang.
Honestly, I respect Lance Armstrong for what he’s done, and the man has every right to sell his name and image to whomever the heck he wants to sell it to. With that said, how could he have bound his name to this specific product? This stuff is genuinely horrible tasting swill. How could he or at least one of his reps not tasted this stuff and said, “Golly gee-willickers it tastes worse than Landis’ doping allegations.” Really, this stuff is just horrible.
Now you’re probably saying “Sheesh, you’re totally exaggerating about how bad this tastes. It’s gotta be better than a kick to the mouth, right?” Well you would be right, at least partially right. It is better than a kick to the mouth, but I’m not exaggerating at all about the flavor. This stuff tastes like overly diluted Tang orange beverage mix that’s had not one, not two but three multivitamins powdered up and dumped into the mix. Worst of all, there’s no effervescence to nip at your tongue and mask any of these lackluster attributes.
Now like all “energy beverages”, I expect this to give me a little pick-me-up so I can finish my day off strong, so I waited until I had to pull a double-duty day and work two jobs back-to-back. Instead of my usual energy drink of choice or a good old-fashioned cup of coffee, I decided to give frosty can of FRS a go. As a backup plan I figured I could slip into the coffee house of my choosing and pull through the last portion of my day.
Well as life would have it, I ended up getting out of my first job late and my plan fell to pieces as I had no time to get a backup beverage and make my deadline, so FRS went from a field trial with backup to my only option for energy. At first, the horrible flavor kept me going, but a horrible lingering aftertaste and gritty teeth can only carry you so far. There had to be some punch to back up the marketing. Some sort of energy rescue. Something to justify that god-awful taste.
There was nothing. No energy rescue ever came. No punch to pack up the marketing. Nothing to justify the horrible taste. It was if I took a conventional multivitamin and expected it to cast some sort of miracle stimulating powers on my body. I barely inched through my shift, fighting off sleep at every turn. Nodding off every time I put my butt in my low-backed manager’s chair to process reports. Even when I was making my rounds I felt listless.
Normally a brisk walk or even a mild jog will get me going for an hour or two, but this time I was feeling just to drained to carry on. I had to succumb to the $3.25 NOS energy drink out of the vending machine in the main lobby. FRS just did not deliver on its energy promises.
Upon further research I learned why there was nothing to get me through the day. According to the fine folks at Energy Fiend, there’s a paltry 38 milligrams of caffeine in one can of FRS. That’s basically a Coca-Cola’s worth of caffeine. A cup of instant coffee has more than double that and it takes more than a few of those to get me moving in the morning. Plus the other additives FRS shoves in their can were clearly not pulling their weight. Speaking of additives, what the heck is this Quercetin (kwer-si-tin) stuff anyways?
Skepticism About Their Brand Name Additive
On the FRS website you’ll find a bit of propaganda touting the wonders of their favorite antioxidant, Quercetin. They talk about how health scientists tried to create a product for people undergoing chemotherapy. The marketing folks then went on to ramble about how quercetin is the secret weapon of many elite athletes. Whatever. It’s marketing on the can. It’s non-specific dietary supplement mumbo-jumbo that means nothing to anyone.
Or is it mumbo-jumbo? If you head on over to the FRS website they claim to have SCIENCE on their side, and even cite some legitimate peer reviewed journal entries. Now I don’t have access to my old University resources anymore so I can’t pull up the full text posts anymore but from the abstracts I read on PubMED (I refuse to believe anything posted on a commercial website) the cited articles have very small sample groups. Small as in twenty individuals total (ten control, ten receiving a dose of quercetin) showing a small effect (less than a 5% increase in VO2 levels for individuals on quercetin). Now small trials in and of themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but generally when you have a small sample group you have to question results under a certain effect size. Any anomalous result would skew the entire sample and could lead to curious results with the numbers. That’s why unless there is a large effect in a small sample group it’s generally a good policy to not get worked up over the results.
Basically, small studies are good for indicating where further research should be performed, not what kind of action the end user of a substance should be taking. Unfortunately, with the state of dietary supplement regulation companies are more than happy to latch onto any small study and waive them in the faces of their customers who don’t have the time or energy (Coffee, anybody?) to go and do the legwork for them.
I guess that’s what I’m here for. While farting around on PubMed looking for additional research I found a small, yet larger than FRS’s sample group, study that looked into the supplementing ROTC cadets with quercetin (N=58, double-blind, and randomized). Over a six-week course the researches found no change in the cadet’s energy, quality of sleep, or fatigue. I then found a much larger study (N=941, double-blind, and randomized) that looked into the use of quercetin and it’s impact on basal metabolism and body composition and over their twelve-week period they found no significant effect between the placebo control groups and the individuals who were on the 500mg or 1000mg doses of quercetin.
Now I really have no axe to grind with this subject and I really don’t care either way. In fact, I would love for quercetin to be some sort of miracle product by my very cursory research says that the stuff just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. FRS is obviously going to cherry pick their results so why did they cherry pick results that had a small effect on a small sample group? Well that’s probably because there just isn’t much research and because the research that has been performed on a larger groups just doesn’t show a statistically significant effect. Much like other promoted dietary supplements.
At least I know an excessive amount of caffeine gives me a pick me up, but hey that’s not all. Inquiring minds want to know if you can put booze in it.
Well, Can You Shove Booze In It?
I didn’t attempt to mix anything in with this for fear of wasting liquor on this unsalvageable stuff and I can’t really imagine anything you could shove in it that would make this taste any better. Perhaps if you got a vat of Jungle Juice going and fortified your cooler full of booze and fruit juice with a can of FRS you could get away with it. Otherwise, you really shouldn’t waste your time.
As a beverage, FRS Energy Low Cal Orange is just a crappy drink. It tastes like butts. It doesn’t give you energy like a beverage with a caffeine megadose will and you cant even put alcohol in it. It’s just bad at what it does. Well unless what it does is taste like crap and not live up to its expectations.
Now if you don’t want to take my word on it you can hop on the FRS FREE TRIAL which is something I found after purchasing four cans of the stuff at a steep discount at Grocery Outlet. Of course, if the promotion is over you might be able to snag some of the stuff of on Amazon. Heck, they even have a concentrated Tang-like form of the stuff!
Speaking of Celebrity Endorsements, Let’s Have a Little Ahnold. (Just think of this as a reward for reading all that garbage I wrote.)
Just an update, because you wanted to read EVEN MORE words about this stuff.
I just had the “pleasure” of trying out the Low-Cal Berry flavor of this stuff and the berry masks the vitamin taste slightly more. It doesn’t help that sucralose flavor and it’s still not particularly good tasting. If you were being forced to purchase this and to pick between orange and berry I’d get berry. But for our reader’s reference, I’d just continue to hoard whatever traditional energy drink you normally purchase. Or yanno. Get some sleep at night so you’re well rested. (That’s a joke. I have trouble sleeping at night and don’t get the luxury of naps so I have to rely on coffee and energy drinks around noon to help me get home.)
The idea for Clearance Cuisine was born when, after visiting different discount grocery stores and red-tagged food aisles along the entire west coast, we decided to review these foods and drinks that had been rejected, overstocked, phased out or just weren’t very popular. In other words, we taste, photograph and comment on edibles from discount grocery stores, outlets and liquidators.