We're an old-fashioned bunch here at the Weird Soda Review Lab. We've watched with increasing dismay and horror as the youth of today have fallen deeper into the seething morass of wasted time and immorality they call "Video Games". Yes, these tools of dark powers are a plague, sapping our young people of their initiative, their vitality, and their precious bodily fluids. How can we act to preserve our precious young people? This scourge must be stamped out, swept away by...
Oh, who am I kidding. I love video games. Not only that, but I think gamer culture is interesting. The heavy reliance on caffeine is particularly fascinating; I suspect that learned theses could be written on the topic. If media is any guide, gamers subsist almost entirely on beverages which amount to caffeine-sugar syrup. There are several brands, each of which portrays itself as the first choice of gamers, enabling them to play World of Warcraft: Waffles With the Lich King for seventy-two hours straight, reaching levels whose number cannot be expressed without new mathematical notations.
While reading through the Think Geek catalog (which may well be the greatest catalog/web site/retail establishment ever created), I discovered Bawls. Bawls claims, oddly enough, to be the gamers' choice. It comes in a variety of flavors, all of which seem to amount to the same sugar-caffeine syrup as is found in the other members of its phylum. The primary appeal seems to be the name, and the fact that it comes in a blue bottle. This leads to some good conversations.
"I was thinking of trying the blue Bawls tonight."
"Yeah, but won't that make it hard to sleep?"
The full title on the bottle is "BAWLS Guarana: High Caffeine Guarana Beverage". Under the ingredients list on the back, there is this ominous-sounding disclaimer: "Warning: this product contains high levels of caffeine." I consider myself duly notified.
I noticed something interesting about the bottle. It does not have a mold code; no little row of bumples. It is, though, covered in a regular pattern of little bumps all over the bottle. No mere single row of bumps here: this stuff is LOADED with bumps. It has EXTREME bumps. I am guessing these make it easier to hold onto the bottle when the caffeine-induced jitters get severe.
In any case, I found my Bawls at Galco's. And tonight, I say "Bawls to me!"
Where and when: purchased April 2009 at Galco's, Los Angeles
Color: clear, with an extremely faint yellowish tinge.
Scent: sweet and citrusy. Sort of like Sprite syrup.
Taste: Absent. This is weird; it has almost no taste at all. It's carbonated, and when I swallow it, I'm pretty sure it was sweet, but I can't actually recall it being sweet while going down. Almost no aftertaste, but it leaves a slightly syrupy/sticky feeling in the mouth.
OK, there's a very faint, citrus aftertaste, but still very little initial taste. I'm beginning to wonder if there's something wrong with my Bawls. I ask the Kibbitzer-in-Chief for a second opinion.
K-i-C: "It tastes sweet."
Yeah, that's about it. When I wrote the intro to this review, I was joking about the sugar-caffeine syrup, but I think I was more prescient than I knew. That's really all this is. It's sweet, and ever-so-slightly citrusy. There's a certain Zenlike purity about Bawls; it's the Ikea coffee table of Weird Soda. Its form has been so thoroughly dictated by its simple function that it has shed any extraneous elements, and exists as a focused, purely functional entity. It exists, and its existence is defined solely by its purpose--to keep you awake and enable your thumbs to twitch at eye-blurring speeds. As I quaff it, the Litany against Fear from Dune echoes through my mind, except now it is the Litany against Sleep.
I must not sleep . Sleep is the n00b-killer.
Sleep is the little-death which brings pwnage.
I will drink Bawls.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the Bawls has gone there will be nothing.
My covers lie undisturbed, my pillow unused, and my mouse worn out.
Only I will remain.
And all your base are belong to ME.
The Bawls must flow!
Quaff rating: 2.5. I don't really see the point, unless you're trying to stay awake. It seriously has no taste.
Cough rating: 0.5. About as offensive as club soda.
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