Review: Amp Energy Overdrive Tall Boy


Just as Mountain Dew Code Red is the cherry-flavored version of the flagship brand, so is Amp Energy Overdrive to the original Amp Energy. Marketed as being “loaded with the power of Amp Energy, an intense hit of cherry, and a specially formulated turbo boost of yerba mate to get you going,” Amp Energy Overdrive is the first flavor extension to PepsiCo‘s flagship energy drink brand.

Amp Energy Overdrive

From a packaging perspective, Amp Energy Overdrive shares a lot in common with Mountain Dew Code Red, namely ditching the standard “Mountain Dew green” color scheme for one that primarily highlights red and black. The “Overdrive” name is presented almost as a add-on under the standard “Amp Energy” logo, presented in such as way as to look like a stamp or attached label. Below this is the recognized iconography of the Mountain Dew logo, as technically, Amp is a product extension of that line of carbonated soft drinks. We reviewed the Tall Boy-sized can of Amp Energy Overdrive, which is the subbranded name for the 16 oz. version. The drink is also available in 8.3 oz. and 24 oz. sizes. Just as Amp Energy features a green pull tab on the top of the can, Amp Energy Overdrive features a red pull tab. This is a nice touch.

Like the standard flavor in this energy drink lineup, Amp Energy Overdrive promotes the fact that it contains 5 core energy supplements, specifically maltodextrin, ginseng, taurine, B vitamins, and guarana. But the can also promises an “intense cherry hit”, thus the influx of that flavor. I must say that the cherry flavoring is substantially weaker than that tasted in Mountain Dew Code Red. There’s far more of the core Mountain Dew/Amp Energy flavor in Overdrive, and without looking at the color of the drink itself, you may be hard pressed to realize that this is supposed to have a hint of cherry. (Vault Red Blitz suffered from this same situation.) Speaking of color, it was more pinkish, rather than red, probably closer in color to something like Jones Soda Candy Cane Soda, rather than other cherryish drinks like Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, Pomegranate 7Up, or yes, even Mountain Dew Code Red.

Then there’s the mysterious promise of a “turbo boost of yerba mate.” Looking up this item on Wikipedia, one finds that “yerba mate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate.” So basically it’s an additional stimulant of some sort. Interestingly, however, infusion of this plant is not listed in the actual ingredients, though I may be missing it being part of something else. I’m no food scientist, that’s for sure! Here’s the listing of ingredients for Amp Energy Overdrive compared to that of regular Amp Energy, with common ingredients noted by italics:

Amp Energy Overdrive
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavor, guarana seed extract, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), maltodextrin, caffeine, gum arabic, taurine, red 40, panax ginseng root extract, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)

Amp Energy
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, orange juice concentrate, natural flavor, guarana seed extract, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), maltodextrin, caffeine, gum arabic, ascorbic acid (to protect flavor), taurine, panax ginseng root extract, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, niacinamide, yellow 5, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), blue 1, cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)

Unless that yerba mate is hiding inside red 40, I don’t see where it is. I’m guessing they might have just included it under the generic “caffeine” listing. Who knows?

Speaking of caffeine, Amp Energy Overdrive contains the same amount as regular Amp Energy, breaking down to 8.875 mg/oz. This is substantially higher than the flagship Mountain Dew (4.5 mg/oz.) or its Coke competitor, Vault (5.83 mg/oz.)

Additionally, this drink is pretty sweet in flavor. The amount of sugars used breaks down to about 3.63 g/oz., which is actually a little less than regular Mountain Dew’s 3.83 g/oz. This impression could be a result of the comparatively mild level of carbonation. Imagine how much sweeter this drink would be if they dumped the use of high fructose corn syrup!

As we noted in our review of the Tall Boy version of Amp Energy, Pepsi is really ramping up the marketing for the Amp brand, namely through the NASCAR sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 car and a Super Bowl commercial. While the core Amp product is the one getting the most promotional visibility, this is sure to have a positive halo effect on Amp Energy Overdrive as well.

Overall, if you are a fan of Mountain Dew and have an inkling for a more “familiar tasting” energy drink, the Amp Energy line seems to fill that niche. With the cherry influence found in Amp Energy Overdrive, you have multiple options for flavor as well.