Another Big Jolt of Food Science

In high school I lived in the halcyon salad days, when I drank cola because it was cold and sweet and perked me up. Then I went to college and became a desperate caffeine junkie.

I spent four (well, closer to five) years on the cutting edge of sleep science, attempting to cajole my brain into ever more efficient modes of information absorption while operating at during sleep debt. Coffee was my mode of choice, and I developed a pretty slick method of drinking a cup, taking a nap, and then speedballing—legally, I mean—while I studied.

Of course 20 years later, researchers are finally waking up to this development:

Researchers found coffee helps clear your system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy. So in testing, the combination of a cup of coffee with an immediate nap chaser provided the most alertness for the longest period of time. The recommendation was to nap only 15 minutes, no more or less and you must sleep immediately after the coffee.

In other words, I was 20 years ahead of sleep science—and me, a humble humanities undergraduate! (But I digress into smugness, and bitter puzzlement over why scientific accolades evaded me.)

Nowadays it’s all science, and caffeine is our opium, available at every hop joint corner store and café. And if you don’t like coffee, that’s the least of your worries, since there are scores of sodas that can cramp your kidneys.

Back in college, two friends of mine insisted that Mountain Dew was the most caffeine-laden soda, and they’d buy two-liter torpedos of the stuff and cram all night, their arteries coursing with green-tinted stuff that looked like nuclear waste.

But were they right? Two Auburn University researchers took a look, examining the jack-quotient of a whole lot of sodas.

The executive summary:

Pepsi One has 57.1mg/12 oz, almost 10 mg more than its nearest “national brand cola” competitor, something called Diet Cheerwine. Regular Coke has only 33.9. Mountain Dew has a respectable 54.8.

If you buy the supermarket brands, you’ll want Diet Big Fizz Cola, because in addition to its stellar name, it packs 61.9 mg of oomph.

But if you really want to make your heart palpitate, get yourself some Vault Zero. With 74 mg of caffeine, it’s perkier than Diet SunDrop, and more than three times as powerful as Diet Dr. Lynn—and Dr. Perky, who’s a misnomer at a paltry 18.8.

(No, I’m not making those names up. It would take me many bladders full of Vault Zero to come up with names like Laura Lynn Mt. Moon Drops, Publix Citrus Hite, Dr IGAa, Bubba Cola, and Faygo Moon Mist.)

Or, you could just get a cup of coffee, which has 115-175 mg in every brackish cup.

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