In 1999, Jones Soda rolled out an energy drink they called WhoopAss, headlined by an anime-styled cartoon character and companion design. While it always seemed to be part of their product line, it just wasn't a very visible one. That has seemingly changed with a reformulation and relaunch of Jones WhoopAss.
Jones Soda recently sent some 16 oz. samples of the new drink to review so we did just that. We're a general beverage site, covering a broad array of soft drinks, waters, teas, juices, etc. Thus we know that our opinion on energy drinks is probably not the same as those who patronize the genre and its ever-growing desire for a "buzz", thus your mileage may vary.
That said, we were impressed with the packaging on the new WhoopAss, especially when compared to what it used to look like. The new style is black, clean, and very clearly branded. It's also hard to miss the name of the product (which got lost a bit in the old design) as well as who makes it, Jones. The tagline "Open a Can" at the bottom is a friendly hint at the catchphrase associated with the product name. Jones calls the primary icon a "gritty red and grey Iron Cross graphic" and then rattles on about how it symbolizes strength, courage, and whatnot. The old anime "Little Guy" character from the original can design shows up next to the ingredients on the back of the can as a nice hat tip to the past. Oddly the can called out "Est. 96", which you would assume is when WhoopAss was originally created, but Jones keeps insisting that date is actually 1999. What gives?
So why is Jones all of the sudden getting back into the energy drink game? Well, it's no secret that they've been going through some financial challenges as of late. Looking through their recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they talk about having to drop certain product lines (Jones Naturals and Jones Organics) because of distribution loss at such retail outlets like Panera Bread and Barnes & Noble. They got a new CEO, Bill Meissner, who has experience working for other brands such as Fuze, Talking Rain, and SoBe. It's noted that Mr. Meissner "knows the energy drink space," so it would appear that a reboot of the brand was a logical extension with the current Jones Soda leadership. Personally, we think it's a bit risky given the climate, but probably a safer bet than launching something completely new.
Back to the drink itself, when you open the can you are greeted by a very berry-infused scent, nothing like citrus or berry. It's a deeper, darker berry smell. The color of the drink is a red/purple with the translucency associated with energy drinks. While I never tried the previous WhoopAss personally, Jones' marketing materials note that the old version was bright yellow with a tart/sweet flavor.
Let's get to the taste, shall we? In my opinion, it's not very good. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Fanta Wildberry, which we also did not care for. The flavor is bitter overall (Jones describes it as "exotic, subtle fruit flavor"). Your initial sip starts with a bubbly, pucker-inducing dynamic that translates into something like stale SweetTarts candy, hinting at a grape/berry combination flavor. The aftertaste sticks with you with the residue you typically will find with energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster (and unlike more soft drink-like products such as the Amp lineup). In the end, the flavor feels "empty" and a tad bit watered down, yet effective in making you go "what was that?" Other energy drink fans may disagree, but in our opinion, when it says "WhoopAss" on the can, should you really be surprised at a taste like this?
Here's the ingredient list of the new WhoopAss:
Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, citric acid, taurine, natural flavors, sodium citrate, L-carnitine base (levocarnitine), yerba mate extract, L-arginine, L-lysine HCL, caffeine, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives), green tea extract, grape concentrate, niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Red 40, pyridoxine HCL (Vitamin B6), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), cyanocobalamin HCL (Vitamin B12)
If you compare, it's quite different from the original WhoopAss:
Jones WhoopAss 1.0
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, taurine, citric acid, natural flavors, inositol, potassium benzoate (to preserve freshness), caffeine, potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness), niacin, panax ginseng extract, guarana seed extract, pyridoxine HCL (Vitamin B6), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), and thiamin HCL (Vitamin B1)
A 16 oz. can of WhoopAss contains 220 calories, 52 g of carbs (all of them sugars), 3.4 mg riboflavin, 40 mg niacin, 4 mg Vitamin B6, 12 mcg Vitamin B12, and 320 mg sodium. Amongst the other supplements you'll find 200 mg of caffeine, which breaks down to 12.5 mg/oz. (For comparison, regular Mountain Dew has 4.5 mg/oz.)
The drink definitely provides a buzz and a pick-me-up. We tasted it at 9 a.m. and still could feel the effects later in the day (granted, we're probably more sensitive to caffeine than most readers).
Overall, we were disappointed in the flavor of Jones WhoopAss. Energy drink fans will want to check it out to see if it fits into their style of beverage, but from a generalist perspective, there are probably better drinks you could be exploring.
Official Website: JonesSoda.com