Ugly Drinks
Fruit Punch Energy Water

Fruit Punch is one of the quintessential flavors of childhood nostalgia.

The name alone can conjure halcyon summers of sticky sodas on fingers, greasy hot dogs and a sense of freedom adult existence can never replicate. That sweet and inimitable tropical fruitmalgam wrapped in our memories as the flavor of innocence itself.

So when Ugly announced their new energy lineup, we said to ourselves: the taste of childhood but with 160 mg of caffeine + B vitamins? That’s exactly what the ennui of adult life in 21st century America needs. We love that for ourselves.

But fruit punch is much more nostalgic than the late 1980s and Stranger Things sentimentalism. Fruit Punch’s existence can be traced all the way back to the 17th century, with the first recorded recipe for fruit punch dating back to 1638.

This 1638 fruit punch recipe was memorialized by a German factory manager in India, who apparently was like whoa, drinks made of sugar and fruit are amaze, better write this down. And all around the globe sailors who were doing the Empire’s work starting concocting alcoholic versions of tropical fruit and cane sugar combinations when they were out there hustling the West Indies, bringing sloshy bowls of punch back to Jolly ol’ England, where Queen Victoria, who didn’t like alcohol but loved a sweet sugar high, cemented its popularity in the bloodstreams of Western civilization.

So like all things we associate with innocence and youth, inevitably we discover its origins are simply the byproduct of colonialism and exploitation. Typical.

It’s funny to think of a citrus + sugar drink as being “innovative” at any point in time, as human beings’ obsession with any sugary, fruity liquid feels so inextricably intertwined with our existence itself.

We’re not unconvinced the “apple” from which humanity fell wasn’t actually some high fructose corn syrup apple-flavored soda of antiquity. 1638 actually feels a little late to the fruity sugar drink party in that regard.

Either way, who are we to resist a caffeinated fruit punch? Inject this directly into our veins, said we. But we did restrain ourselves long enough for a quick sniff strictly for Bubbleverse critique purposes.

The nose on this is pitch perfect. It’s almost unnerving.

No sugar? Already it’s hard for us to not imagine that Ugly didn’t just take a batch of some perfectly executed Hawaiian Punch and simply devein it of sugar, like little tropical fruit shrimps.

We’re quivering in anticipation.

Tasting Notes

🌊🍊🍍😮

Wow. The sip doesn’t disappoint. It’s as good in theory as it is in praxis.

Ugly nails it: it’s spiritually on point, giving you the existential childhood memory you’re hoping to mainline, as well as expertly sticking the flavor landing, all the various fruits standing up and accounted for in a delicious tropical roll call across your tongue.

But this is where the knot of Fruit Punch is tricky to unravel. What is the flavor of Fruit Punch? It’s flavor alchemy that we know so well, and yet where do we begin unpacking it?

A quick list of Hawaiian Punch’s fruity elixir details the fruit suspects in a classic punch lineup are orange, pineapple, passionfruit, guava and papaya.

There’s definitely an orange in here, as the Ugly logo for this can attests.  A little cartoon orange can be found about to surf a cresting red wave, a specific color we can only assume is a stand in for Red #40, the food coloring of our time.

So the orange is definitely in here, and an overriding tide of passionfruit crests across our months quickly thereafter. If we close our eyes and contemplate, we can even taste a little of our current obsession, guava.

Maybe there’s slight wafts of other fruits: watermelon? Cherry? Either way, whatever recipe Ugly assembled captures that unique and distinctive Fruit Punch je ne sais quoi.

Here’s our Bubbleverse confession: we start our day with caffeinated sparkling waters.

Coffee is delicious and all, but sparkling energy water is hydrating and clean, and the good ones contain the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee. It’s our go-to, and it’s empirically better.

But Ugly has gone full throttle flavor with their new energy flavors, and we might still prefer the watered down flavor approximations of Hiball when it’s first thing in the morning.

That’s not an insult to Ugly’s craftsmanship here, it’s a compliment. These are capital F flavors, and Hiball…well, their attempts at flavor are darling, but maybe Learning Annex level, whereas Ugly is a flavor Harvard Man.

This is all just a heads up: if you start guzzling caffeinated sparkling waters before you’ve opened your eyes, these new Ugly flavors might be a wee intense.

Or just what you need. Who are we to say?

TBH, we’d prefer these straight from the soda fountain, supersized and never-ending at our local 7-11, where we’re sporting inappropriately short cutoffs and our hearts are buoyantly hopeful, our whole lives ahead of us.

Lol.  Those days are long gone, but at least a 16 ouncer of Ugly Fruit Punch will help us pretend.

ingredients

Carbonated Water, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Natural Caffeine, Niacinamide (vitamin B3), Guarana Seed Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, D-Calcium Pantothenate (vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)

caffeine in Ugly Drinks Fruit Punch Energy Water

160mg

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