Back in February, we reported on a rumor that both an orange and grape-flavored version of Amp Energy was going to hit the market. The prospective launch date of March 2008 seemed to be true, as I have a can of Amp Energy Traction — the grape flavor — in my hands right now. (Which, by process of elimination, leaves Amp Energy Elevate (Mixed Berry) and Amp Energy Relaunch (Orange) to be found next!)
After drinking my first sip, all I can say is "Welcome back Pitch Black!"
Amp Energy Traction shares a lot in common with the 2004 limited edition Mountain Dew Pitch Black. For one thing, the smell is very similar, producing an obvious grape influence. The purpleish coloring of the drink is right in line with that famed Dew spinoff. And frankly, the taste is rather close. It's not a clone of Pitch Black, but it does seem to come from the same family. It's a muted grape taste with just enough citrusy, Mountain Dew-ness to remind you that the Amp Energy line is technically a spinoff of that brand.
Like the Amp Energy and Amp Energy Overdrive, Amp Energy Traction contains maltodextrin (146 mg per serving vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive's 55 mg per serving), ginseng (17 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive's 10 mg), taurine (148 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive's 10 mg), and guarana (124 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive's 150 mg). Interestingly missing from this list is B vitamins, of which Amp and Amp Overdrive both contain B6 and B12. There is also the addition of 72mg of d-Ribose.
Amp Energy Traction also contains more caffeine than its siblings, breaking down to 10 mg/oz., in comparison to Amp/Amp Overdrive's 8.875 mg/oz. (Standard Mountain Dew contains 4.5 mg/oz.)
A full ingredient list is as follows:
Amp Energy Traction
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavor, taurine, maltodextrin, guarana seed extract, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), caffeine, d-Ribose, gum arabic, niacinamide, panax ginseng root extract, calcium pantothenate, Red 40, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, riboflavin, Blue 1
Amp Energy has gone through another packaging redesign, placing a stronger emphasis on the "Amp Energy" brand and less on its Mountain Dew roots. This seems to coincide with PepsiCo's increased marketing of the line, reflected through the NASCAR sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 car and a Super Bowl commercial. Even the name of the product, Traction, hints at a racing heritage (much like the cherry-flavored Overdrive does). The new packaging emphasizes one color (purple), complimented by a heavy dose of black. The Amp Energy logo remains unchanged, however the way the "Traction" flavor is noted seems to reflect larger, bolder placement. The Mountain Dew logo has been reduced to a monochromatic footnote towards the bottom of the can. It should be additionally noted that the phrase "Sustain" can be found on the front, calling out the inclusion of maltodextrin and d-Ribose. This is backed up by a small textual explanation under the secondary logo found on the back of the can:
The power of Amp Energy charged with grape and the specially formulated intense combination of maltodextrin and d-Ribose. Grab hold and mainatin (sustain) through the long haul with focus and control.
Amp Energy Traction – More Power To You
Finally, even though this is a 16 oz. version of the drink, the previous size brand of "Tall Boy" is nowhere to be found at the top. Instead, in that same space, is a callout of the supplements used in the drink, much like the original Amp can design many years ago. While you are looking at that section of the can, you'll note the Amp Energy tradition of coloring the pulltab to match the drink flavor has been continued; this time its purple.
Overall, I really liked Amp Energy Traction, probably because it reminded me so much of one of my favorite Mountain Dew line extensions, Pitch Black. The grape flavor is good, but not overpowering. It definitely still tastes like an energy drink, but it's a favorable experience all around.