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A FiPS Guide To That Weird Runner's Energy Goo

Last week, I wrote this post about how you could run your first marathon and cure cancer at the same time. It was a brilliant blog post, and people who love fitness and hate cancer shared it on Facebook and shit.  In that post, I promised you that I was going to do a taste test of energy gel, and that I would report the results to all of you, so you'd know what you were doing, once you decided to train for your first marathon.

If you've don't know what energy gel is, let me enlighten you.  Energy gel is what marathon runners take so that they do not die while running 26 miles. Basically, you can't run that far without fuel, so you have to eat something every few miles, and the thing that some people choose to eat is this little packet of flavored glop, which is basically sugar, flavoring and ridiculous amounts of caffeine. It's the consistency of snot, and it's sticky and has a slight chemical odor. My spouse, David, runs marathons, and he eats them on his races.  He likes the mocha and chocolate flavored ones, which he insists taste like pudding.  More on that, later.

As disgusting as chocolate energy pudding sounds, there are flavors that sound to me like they are even worse than chocolate and mocha. Like lemon-lime, for example. Or orange. Pretty much any flavor of citrus snot makes me think that whoever invented this shit needs to have his fucking head examined.

Because I have an intense aversion to anything that resembles exercise, I've never taken up long-distance running.  So, I've never bothered to taste these goo packets for myself.  Until this week.  

I made my long-suffering spouse go to JackRabbit to buy a plethora of energy gel packets in assorted flavors. He also picked up a couple of other non-gel fuel options.  So, we had an energy gel taste test on a random weeknight, the results of which I am about to report, here, for your personal edification.  Here's what I ate:

Clif Shot Mocha: This was not actually bad.  It had an actual mocha coffee flavor, and the consistency was not too coagulated.  It reminded me a lot of when I was a kid and we'd go to church, and my mom would clean my face by spitting on a McDonald's napkin after drinking coffee with cream.  Yeah.  So imagine that instead of wiping it on your face, you saved up a whole bunch of your mom's coffee spit and then ate it so that you'd have energy to run a marathon.  That's kinda what this is like.  Letter Grade:  A- 

Clif Shot Turbo Double Expresso. To some extent, this is largely indistinguishable, flavor-wise from the mocha flavored gel. Both taste like coffee, but with a slight chemical taste.  The most offensive thing here is the way they spell "espresso."  There is no "x" in espresso, people.  The fact that the good people at Clif have decided to spell it this way makes me very, very angry.  And now that I'm getting hopped up on energy gel, I very well may become violent.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Letter Grade: B (but it would have been an A-, except spelling counts). 

Gu Chocolate RaspberryNow we're venturing into the chocolate flavors.  My spouse insists that the chocolate ones are good because they taste like pudding.  And he's sort of right about that.  This one, for example, tastes like chocolate pudding mixed with raspberries would taste, if it were possible to make chocolate pudding in someone's nose.  Still, it's not bad.  Chocolate and raspberries go well together, so in the grand scheme of things, this is acceptable.  But the question I have is, even if it tastes halfway decent, do you really want to be slurping down something that tastes like runny chocolate pudding while you're running 26 miles?   I guess part of marathon training is learning how to put disgusting things in your mouth.  Letter Grade: B

Gu Mint Chocolate:  Another chocolate flavor.  The crazy thing about this one is that it has 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins C and E.  Seriously.  It's like drinking orange juice, or eating a bowl of Total, but it's a tiny packet of runny mint chocolate frosting.  It is also completely delicious. I would spread this on cupcakes.  Letter Grade: A

Gu Blueberry Pomegranate:  Now we're moving into the fruit flavors.  I actually took this out of the packet to see the color and texture of it.  It looks like snot, but it tastes like pie filling.  Not bad.  Again, do I want to eat snot while running?  Probably not.  Did this make me want to barf?  Not at all.  So far, I'm pleasantly surprised.  And I'm starting to get a buzz.  Just a little bit hyper, maybe.  Letter Grade: B-

Honey Stinger Strawberry:  Jesus Christ on a Broken Ski!  This shit is awful.  REALLY, REALLY awful. It tastes like it's basically honey, both in consistency and flavor, but then there's some artificial strawberry flavoring that got added to the mix.  It's exactly wrong on every single level.  Nobody puts honey on strawberries, for one thing.  Who would even think of making up a flavor like this?  Clearly someone at the Honey Stinger Worldwide Headquarters Incorporated Factory was really really high on endorphins from running too much, and they sweated all of their common sense and good judgment out through their pores, and then they made this shit.  Letter Grade: F

Clif Shot Razz:  What the fuck did I just put in my mouth?  This tastes like a raspberry just farted in my mouth.  UGH.  Letter Grade: D 

Gu Island Nectar: What the hell is "island nectar?"  I'm kind of worried that this might be made from the semen of a Samoan man.  The taste, however, is distinctly pineapple.   So, why not just call it pineapple? Speaking of pineapple, did you know that if you mix in some canned pineapple with your dog's food, it will stop them from eating their own poop?  True fact.  Don't ask how I know.  Oh god.  I think I'm really starting to get high from this energy gel.  Maybe I should run around the block or something.  I may not go to sleep tonight.  Letter Grade: B+

Accel Gel Key Lime:  WHOA!  This shit is really, really tart.  Like, so tart, it's making me pucker--at both ends.  It tastes like pie flavored lube.  I had to drink a lot of palate cleanser (i.e., bourbon) after this one.  Letter Grade: D+

Hammer Gel Orange:  I'm not a big fan of orange flavor to begin with, so maybe I'm biased, but this is almost as bad as the honey with strawberry flavor.  It's too thick, for one thing.  Like orange-flavored cum.  It's not at all sweet, either.   If I tried to eat this on a race, I think I'd be projectile vomiting for the remainder of the run.  Letter Grade: D-

Hammer Gel Montana Huckleberry The fuckers at Hammer Gel really have a problem with the consistency. And there's no sweetness, here.  It tastes way more like Montana than it does huckleberry.  Letter Grade: D

PowerBar Kona Punch: Oof. This one aspires to be tropical, but fails on every level.  I don't know what Kona Punch is, but it seems to be  some kind gloppy colada without the booze.  I don't get it.  The "Punch" in "Kona Punch" must be because, after tasting this and getting all hopped up on marathon gels, I'm starting to feel kind of violent, like I might start hitting people.  I feel really energized!  Letter Grade: C

PowerBar Green Apple:  This tastes like a jolly rancher that drank some really bad coffee and had the shits all day.  Letter Grade: D.


So, as a bonus, and because I haven't yet had a stroke from eating all this energy gel, I'm going to do a random sampling of a couple of other non-gel energy foods.  I just hope I survive to actually submit this post.   By the way, does anyone else smell burning toast?  Are the lights flickering where you are?  HELLO?!?

Bonus Products

Clif Shot Bloks Citrus: These are like caffeinated Dots.  They're kind of gummy, and the flavor is fine, but they're not all that sweet, and they'd totally be stuck in my teeth during a run.  Why would you spend money on this, when you could just buy a big bag of Swedish Fish?  A bag of Swedish Fish would totally be less expensive, I bet. Swedish Fish are yummy.

Jelly Belly Sport Beans Watermelon:  These are caffeinated jelly beans.  They're not as good as regular Jelly Bellys, but I would eat them for breakfast if they came in popcorn flavor.  Actually, Easter is coming up, and if you totally hated your sister-in-law, you could feed these jelly beans to her kids and then just sit back and watch the craziness.  It'd be like a goddamned jamboree?  Can you imagine?  If you know a parent, and you want to make them cry, give their kids runner fuel jelly beans.  It'll be hilarious.

Clif Shot Roks Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Flavor: I had to take a picture of this.  These look like little turds that a possum might produce, if it didn't have a very well-balanced diet.  Yuck.   It tastes like a stale tootsie roll that had sex with a stale malted milk ball, and this came out of the tootsie roll's va-jay-jay after nine months.  I love chocolate chip cookies.  I would eat chocolate chip cookies on a marathon.  I would not eat these possum turds.  They are gross.

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