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FITNESS

On the Lookout for a Good Sport

January 19, 1998

We gathered, for your pleasure, two epicures, one bodybuilder, one sugar fanatic and a person with a normal palate. No, this isn't the cast of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. It's our panel for a taste test of sports drinks. We offered five thirst quenchers, all lemon-lime flavor. Our panel was unfamiliar with sports drinks, including the bodybuilder who prefers heartier power drinks. Here are the results, based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best:

No. 1: Gatorade

Yes, sports fans, this ubiquitous drink won, though it really wasn't a clear-cut favorite of the panel, weighing in at a solid 6. Comments: "Refreshing, but not too heavy." "Smooth. . . . No bitter aftertaste." "Sticky sweet."

Gatorade

Per 8-ounce serving:

50 calories

Fat 0% *

Sodium 5%

Potassium 1%

Total carbohydrate 5%

Sugars 14 grams

*

No. 2 Powerade

One judge gave this drink a perfect 10, another a 2, and the ratings averaged out to 5.6. Comments: "Perfect sweet/sour balance. Refreshing and light." "Bland." "Watered-down Mountain Dew."

Powerade

Per 8-ounce serving:

70 calories

Fat 0%

Sodium 2%

Potassium 1%

Total carbohydrate 6%

Sugars 15 grams

*

No. 3 AllSport Body Quencher

AllSport earned an average score of 4.9, impressing one judge, disgusting another. Comments: "Fairly smooth-tasting; not too sweet." "Sweeter than most." "Salty." "Yuck!"

AllSport Body Quencher

Per 8-ounce serving:

70 calories

Fat 0%

Sodium 2%

Potassium 1%

Total carbohydrate 7%

Sugars 19 grams

*

No. 4 Safeway Select Winners

Our generic store brand came in with a score of 3.7. Comments: "Tastes like a lemon that lost its flavor." "Salty aftertaste." "Tastes like medicine! I'm feeling worse already." "Smells tangy, but not much flavor. A little bitter."

Safeway Select Winners Thirst Quencher

Per 8-ounce serving:

50 calories

Fat 0%

Sodium 5%

Potassium 1%

Total carbohydrate 5%

Sugars 14 grams

*

No. 5 Spalding Sports Refresher

Spalding finished with a score of 2.8. One judge gave it a 9. Everyone else scored it very low, proving once again that one man's winner is another man's, er, medicine. Comments: "There's citrus here somewhere. Let's look under the paint thinner!" "Lemon Robitussin." "Medicine-y flavor that has bite--acrid aftertaste." "Interesting taste, sweet. Not sticky, good flavor."

Spalding Sports Refresher

Per 8-ounce serving:

88 calories

Fat 0%

Sodium 1.8%

Potassium 1%

Total carbohydrate 7%

Sugars 22 grams

*Percent Daily Values based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

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