Today’s Factoid from the Abyss:
I have never had a Red Bull. I’ve never even tasted one so I have no idea what the flavor is like. I’ve heard it tastes like cough syrup. Now I have tasted Jagermeister and I was not impressed, to say the least. Is it anything like that?
For me the refusal to try a Red Bull is a lot like a badge of honor. “He never tasted Red Bull” is a leading contender for a spot on my tombstone. (I think about my tombstone daily.)
I don’t understand the urge to drink shit like Red Bull and other energy drinks. But it is an important staple in the gerbil diet. I just met someone recently who drinks a lot of these – a young person – and it made me curious so I thought I’d check it out.
Contrary to urban myth, Red Bull does not contain “bull urine” or “bull semen.” It does, however, contain an organic acid known as Taurine that is found naturally in bile and lower intestines of many animals, including bovines and humans. It was originally isolated in 1827 from ox bile. Getting thirsty yet? [Edit: Corrected year.]
Taurine can be found in bull urine and bull semen but it is not the source of Taurine in the food industry. Since approx. 1930 synthetic Taurine has been produced on a large scale.
I was also curious about pricing. At the grocery store today I documented a price of $2.25 USD for an 8.4 ounce can here in the United States. That’s works out to be about 25.6 cents per ounce.
If you could purchase Red Bull in a slightly larger container it would cost a whopping $32.76 per gallon.
For comparison I used a price of 58 cents for a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. That worked out to be $6.21 per gallon.
That means that Red Bull is more than fives times as expensive as brand name soda and approx. 11 times more expensive than the gas we put in our cars.
Think about it. The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in my neighborhood right now is less than $3.00 per gallon. And the oil industry has to research, explore, drill, transport, refine, and deliver before consumers can buy their product. Which industry do you think is more profitable?
Incidentally, regarding Taurine:
Taurine occurs naturally in food, especially in seafood and meat. The mean daily intake from omnivore diets was determined to be around 58 mg (range from 9 to 372 mg) and to be low or negligible from a strict vegan diet. In another study, taurine intake was estimated to be generally less than 200 mg/day, even in individuals eating a high-meat diet. According to another study, taurine consumption was estimated to vary between 40 to 400 mg/day. (Source.)
A single 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull contains approx. 1,000 mg of Taurine.
Regarding Taurine, the official Red Bull web site has this to say:
The taurine in Red Bull Energy Drink is a purely synthetic substance produced by pharmaceutical companies and is not derived from animals or animal materials.
All ingredients for Red Bull Energy Drink are synthetically produced by pharmaceutical companies.
Is that much Taurine bad for humans? I researched it in Google and couldn’t get a solid answer. Maybe you’ll have better luck. One thing seems certain: 1,000 mg per can seems to be a lot higher than what most people encounter naturally.
Even if it isn’t dangerous, based on price alone, next time you feel tempted to indulge in a Red Bull you might be better to just fling your wallet. Come on, say it with me: “Red Bull gives you flings!”