03 January 2010

Turbo Truffles

"Turbo Truffles are the original and best tasting caffeinated chocolates on the planet! Supercharged with caffeine and maximum flavor! Better than duct taping your eyes open, Turbo Truffles will ready you for anything that comes your way."
Or so the marketing says. What we have here is a 'gourmet supercharged chocolate truffle' that 'tastes like after-dinner candy', the Turbo Truffle is part of the trend for caffeine or guarana laced products which saturate the market at present. Everyone wants more energy for less effort, and a quick glance through ThinkGeek's special category devoted to caffeinated products is a mind-boggling experience. From penguin mints to a re-energizing soap, you can enjoy caffeine in an amazing range of ways - smearing it on yourself, frantically rubbing caffeinated lip balm into your mucous membranes or, if you want to be boring, plain old ingestion.

Why? Marketing for these products tends to focus around key words and phrases. Energy boost, kick, fizz and buzz. Realistically, what actually happens? Well, caffeine is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine and alters the process by which your brain absorbs adenosine. The result is increased blood flow, increased blood sugar, dilated pupils and an increase in heart rate. Add an increase of dopamine levels in the brain, and yes, there's a bit of a boost going on somewhere; something of a caffeine rush. Thinking practically, are you going to notice it? Is the dose of caffeine in one small Turbo Truffle going to shift you into some higher plane of consciousness? Just how much caffeine is there in a Turbo Truffle and what is it going to do?

Well, each truffle contains 150mg of caffeine. That's about the same as three cans of coke, a little more than a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and approximately a third more than a mug of instant. If you're a fan of Excedrin and follow the instructions rigorously, then each of these Turbo Truffle chaps clocks in at two Excedrin tablets, but without the painkilling portion. No DoZ users will find they need to munch one and a half tablets for the same effect, while those of us in the UK will be disappointed to find out that the weak and puny Pro Plus tablet contains only a third of a Turbo Truffle. (This, incidentally, goes some way to explaining why munching Pro Plus by the handful seems to have almost no effect.)

Are they safe? Since the LD50 for caffeine is around 10g, you'd have to munch down about sixty truffles to get close, and at $16.95 for fifty of them, your wallet's likely to be complaining long before your nervous system even gets round to noticing. A recent review noted, however, that the kick comes pretty hard and pretty fast, and you're unlikely to want to eat two. Looks like fifty of them could last you a goodly while.

Taste-wise, Turbo Truffles generally come up trumps, although the review for 'Hot Rod Hazelnut' seems less than complimentary - "What the hell did I just eat? I know it says hazelnut, but that wasn't hazelnut..." If you've tried them, you'll undoubtedly have your own favourite flavour; if you haven't tried them, just be sure to avoid the hazelnut. There are eight different varieties, all ridiculously-named: Cosmic Coconut, Coffee Craze, Hot Rod Hazelnut, Chocolate Mint Madness, Outrageous Orange, Peanut Butter Blast, Racing Raspberry and Toffee Tornado. You can also, if you're unable to make up your mind, order a mixed bag and let God play dice with your chocolate selection.

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