Food Fight: Battle Relaxation Drinks

A drink that makes you relax? Isn't that called "booze"?

That was my reaction when I heard that one of the latest trends in beverages was anti-energy elixirs. As a person who will climb the walls (or the nearest tree) if she has more than two fluid ounces of coffee, I'm not usually on the market for drinks that bring me up. What I need in my life (or so I'm often told), is to calm down, slow down, take it down a notch.

Naturally, a line of beverages designed to help me chill the fuck out was something I had to sample. And when I quickly learned that there's not one or two but multiple drinks on the market that claim to help you relax, I decided to do a taste/effect test.

I conducted my experiment in two separate sessions as to prevent one product's relaxation effect (or lack thereof) from masking the other. Both sessions occurred in late morning at a time when I typically start to feel stressed about the number of things on my 'to do' and the swiftly decreasing daylight hours.

In Session No. 1, I sampled a few ounces of Drank, which promises "extreme relaxation" through a combination of rose hips, melatonin, and valerian root. At 110 calories and 27 grams of sugar per eight-ounce serving, it also provides a healthy dose of HFCS.

Much to my surprise, however, Drank was not very sweet, more sour with a slight bitter aftertaste. About 15 minutes after imbibing, I did feel a bit more mellow -- though it's hard to say if that was just a sugar coma approaching. At just under $4 a can, Drank is hardly inexpensive and I could probably achieve the same effect by guzzling some non-caffeinated soda.

In Session No. 2 the next morning, I tried "Purple Stuff," a "pro-relaxation formula," which is available in three varieties (Grape, Berry Calming and Lemon-Lime) at Kroger. It's often on special (three cans for $5), which makes it moderately less expensive that other relaxation drinks. I purchased one can of the of the "Lemon-Lime" to compare against Drank.

Like Drank, Subliminal Purple Stuff provides 100 percent of your daily requirement of B vitamins per serving, but is significantly lower in sugar (13 grams per eight-ounce serving from 'crystalline fructose).

Its taste is far more mild and reminded me of a cross between 7UP and Fresca. Although SPS contains the same amount of rose hips and valerian root (both of which are supposed to ease anxiety and soothe the mind and body), it seems to lack or at least have only a miniscule about of melatonin. Perhaps this is why I didn't feel quite as zen after a serving and certainly not on the brink of sleep.

Conclusion: Inconclusive. Relaxation is such a subjective state and affected by way too many factors for me to control in a domestic experiment. I'd stick to a double whiskey on the rocks if you need to mellow out quickly and hot tea if you still need to operate heavy machinery.

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