NOS Zero Review + ingredients comparison: NOS Zero sucks. Bring back Sugar Free NOS!

I've been drinking Sugar Free NOS ever since high school when, to my dismay, Sobe Adrenaline Rush Sugar Free was discontinued. Most low-carb energy drinks are disgusting, but I actually enjoyed the citrus tang of Sugar Free NOS. It packed an awesome caffeine punch that helped me plow through long days or gave me an extra kick for events. I won't deny: I was shamelessly addicted. I was known around my town for my habit, and gas stations stocked cases just for me. I knew I was a hopeless case when one of the highlights of watching a certain film was noticing a Sugar Free NOS in the gas station the protagonist was entering. Scroll to bottom for ingredients comparison.

nosA few weeks ago, when I dropped by my local gas station to pick up my weekly supply of Sugar Free NOS, I was surprised to find a new brand in its place, NOS Zero. Sugar Free NOS, I learned, had been discontinued. So, I bought a NOS Zero, crossing my fingers that it was just a re-branding and that the integrity of the original had been saved. I started to lose hope when I compared the ingredients lists, also noting that a whopping 100 mg of caffeine had been shaved - along with a worthless 10 calories. I decided to try the drink anyway.

At first sip, NOS Zero somewhat resembles its predecessor, just with all of original fruity glory muted, watered down: at best, the initial sensation is one of blandness. Then comes the aftertaste - metallic, sour, nasty. There is nothing salvageable about this drink. Sugar Free NOS was the king of low-carb energy drinks, but everything that made Sugar Free NOS so great has been stripped away with Coke's offering of this castrated version.

Presumably Coke thinks more stylish labeling, combined with ten less calories and greatly reduced caffeine content, will appeal to more health-conscious consumers (who won't be drinking energy drinks anyway - let's face it, they're just not healthy for anybody to drink) and thus reach a wider customer base. In reality, all this will do is alienate loyal fans. Now I, along with many other former Sugar Free NOS lovers, are on the prowl to find a suitable replacement. I'm sure some of the sugared energy drinks wouldn't be so objectionable taste-wise, but I prefer not to unnecessarily consume sugar when possible; I also don't like coffee. So far, I've settled for Sugar Free Amp, which is tolerable but not particularly great, and even then I only drink it in "emergency" situations when I really need a boost.

Great review of the drink that really captures the difference between the two versions: Caffeine King

Update: I caved. Although NOS Zero is still just a watered-down less awesome version of Sugar Free, it still beats Amp. You get used to it after a few days.

Update 2: I found a small stash of 8 Sugar Free NOS bottles at a gas station and snatched them up. After drinking Sugar Free NOS and NOS Zero side by side, I can definitely confirm that Sugar Free NOS is superior.

Update 3: It looks like Coke is reducing the caffeine content of its other NOS offerings. From what I can tell, energy drinks are getting a backlash from health groups because minors are drinking them. There have also been concerns about people with cardiac problems consuming energy drinks. So instead of parents stepping up to the plate and stop their kids from drinking energy drinks, or expecting adults with cardiac issues to know better than to drink stimulants, the obvious solution is to try and make laws against energy drink. So perhaps Coke is hoping to dodge that bullet by neutering its offerings. Sorry, Coke, reducing the caffeine content still doesn't make these poisons-in-a-can healthy, and all you're doing is alienating your core customer base.

Ingredients Comparison

Taken from a 2012-0058 Sugar Free NOS can and a 2012-1203 NOS Zero can. Differences in bold. Notice the change in manufacturer*, as well as the change of several ingredients, including sodium citrate, which could explain the lack of citrus tang in Zero. *The new one, Energy Brands, is a subsidiary of Coca Cola.

 Sugar Free NOS

NOS Zero

Carbonated water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, caffeine, taurine, natural flavors, acacia, potassium sorbate, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, glycerol ester of rosin, l-theanine, yellow 5, calcium disodium edta, pyridozine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), yellow 6, guarana, cyanobalamin (vitamin b12) Carbonated water, citric acid, sodium hexametaphosphate, potassium phosphate, taurine, natural flavors, caffeine, acacia, sodium benzoate, salt, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, glycerol ester of rosin, l-theanine, yellow 5, calcium disodium edta, pyridozine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), yellow 6, guarana, cyanobalamin (vitamin b12)
Serving Size: 1 can
Calories: 10
Total Fat: 0 g (0% DV)
Sodium: 410 mg (17% DV)
Total Carbohydrate: 0 g (0% DV)
Protein: 0 g
Vitamin B6: 200%
Vitamin B12: 200%
Serving Size: 1 can
Calories: 0
Total Fat: 0 g (0% DV)
Sodium: 180 mg (8% DV)
Total Carbohydrate: 0 g (0% DV)
Protein: 0 g
Vitamin B6: 200%
Vitamin B12: 200%
Caffeine: 260 mg / 16 fl oz Caffeine: 160 mg / 16 fl oz
Manufacturer:
High Performance Beverage Co.

17-20 Whitestone Expressway
Whitestone, NY 11357
Manufacturer:
Energy Brands Inc.

260 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Cortney

About Cortney

Geology lover. Proud owner of a 2014 Honda CRF250L. Grew up on NES, N64, & Gameboy. Collects maneki neko (lucky cats). Married to a gearhead. Email cortney@luckysci.com. Wishlist.

3 thoughts on “NOS Zero Review + ingredients comparison: NOS Zero sucks. Bring back Sugar Free NOS!

  1. Dex Wild

    Hate NOS Zero. Tried it for two weeks and am done. It's not even close in taste, in fact it tastes horrible where the Sugar Free NOS was fantastic. And do you seriously expect me to buy twice as many just to get the same caffeine amount? That's not happening. I already pee like a race horse. Coke you really blew it. 10 less calories? Really??? Your drink is now worthless.

  2. Jesse Munroe

    I may be the only one who cares. But I'm with you on this. I live in Canada, where we usually get only 10% of the variety that Americans do. I had originally been a big fan of their Charged Lime sugar free flavour and switched to the regular sugar free when they discontinued that. I had hoped that the sugar free had only been discontinued in Canada, which I could get around by ordering from the states, but this is very concerning news.
    I'm also addicted to these things. Not sure what I'll be able to do though, since I haven't even seen the NOS zero here.

    Btw, if you are American, sub "flavour" for "flavor". We spell stuff weird sometimes

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