Let your man out. Fuel to be fabulous. Get to it. Be nocturnal. Unleash the beast. Throttle in a bottle. Seize the day.

The beverage world is changing. Mega-corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have realized that energy sells, maybe even more so than sex. Energy drinks are the hot new bandwagon that everyone is scrambling to get aboard, and the options on the market are becoming so varied that the whole energy drink economy is on the verge of becoming saturated.

Energy drinks, regardless of their formulation, typically have a few things in common. They all have copious amounts of caffeine, along with herbal supplements like ginseng, taurine, and guarana, plus a spate of vitamins and minerals. The drinks are usually marketed toward the ever-lucrative 18–24 demographic, promising them the extra energy they need to find the time for all the responsibilities and activities they involve themselves in. This marketing tactic makes energy drinks a prime choice for stressed-out college students and young professionals who are working more than 12 hours a day trying to make ends meet.

Take a walk to Entropy and on any given day you’ll see more than 10 different energy drinks on the shelves: Full Throttle, MDX, Tab Energy, NOS, Rip It, Adrenaline Rush, Bawls, Vault, and Omega are just a few examples of this ever-expanding market segment. Most people try a few different brands and then choose one to stay loyal to. The beverage corporations see this behavior as the holy grail of marketing.

Energy drinks are popular because of the image they convey. They’ll give you that extra kick of energy you need to get through your bright-and-early 8:30 am Interp class, or help you pull an all-nighter to finish that killer programming assignment. However, energy drinks don’t really have anything that good old coffee can’t get you. Starbucks coffee has more than three times as much caffeine per ounce as a Red Bull. All that energy drinks get you is a ton of chemicals and a lot of sugar, plus whatever beneficial effects the extra herbal supplements might have.

All that sugar, though, is the main strength of an energy drink. There are plenty of people who just don’t like coffee, and they much prefer the soft drink taste of products like Full Throttle or MDX. So, as bad as these energy drinks might be for you, for many people they’re a necessary — or at least desirable — evil.