Today’s Taste Test is a very special, very pink, girls-only edition, so The A.V. Club’s male readership should probably just make their way back to the front page while the ladies and I rap about girlified foodstuffs. Go on, off with you; maybe go rewatch that chicken-in-a-can snuff video again.
Okay, I’m assuming it’s just you and me left here, Phel, so let’s get on with it. We ladies sure do have it rough when it comes to the male-dominated world of snack foods, don’t we? Why hasn’t the universal human need to eat food been tailored specifically to our needs, huh? What do men understand about what women like to eat? Am I right, ladies? Thankfully, some brilliant mind has tapped into the feminine psyche and isolated the three things that women look for in their snack foods—the color pink, subtle shame tactics, and GLITTER!
The marketing push behind Fling brand chocolate fingers pivots on the tagline “Naughty… but not that naughty,” brilliantly reinforcing generations’ worth of food-guilt propaganda while offering a supposedly “empowering” alternative. The whole idea that eating chocolate is a subversive act isn’t new, but Fling blows it out to asinine proportions. Let’s take a look at some choice lines from the press release, shall we?
• “Can chocolate be a replacement for men? Not yet, but California women confess that they enjoy chocolate as much as passionate kissing. (77% enjoy chocolate, 75% enjoy passionate kissing.)”
• “At under 85 calories per finger, Fling offers chocolate liberation—freeing every woman from the guilt of indulging in chocolate pleasure.”
• “‘Every woman desires a moment of the day just for herself, to let inhibitions go and to indulge in what she fancies,’ said Thomas Pinnau, Vice President of Indulgence, Mars Snackfood US.”
Thanks, Thomas Pinnau, Vice President of Indulgence, for giving us ladies some chocolate liberation to keep us fueled for that next bout of passionate kissing.
All this guilt-alleviating rhetoric hinges on the fact that each Fling chocolate finger (Flinger?) has only 85 calories, so you can eat like, two whole servings before having to run to the bathroom and stick your finger down your throat. Thing is, each Flinger is pretty tiny, roughly 16 grams. Compare that to a 57-gram Snickers bar, which has 273 calories—or about 77 calories for the same weight as one Fling. Good thing we lady-folk are too busy shopping and passionately kissing our boyfriends to bother with basic math.
Or maybe they’re just hoping we’ll be distracted by the sparkles. That’s right: Fling bars are dusted with a thin layer of glittery gold powder for some reason. Presumably because we ladies like our chocolate like we like our vampires: Glittery and non-threatening.
Her energy drink takes a less aggressive but more violently pink approach to the lady-food game. In case the name (an acronym, helpfully spelled out on the can, for “healthy energy revitalizer”) wasn’t enough of a tip-off, Her is a pink-lemonade-flavored energy drink served up in a “sleek and stylish” pink can, to keep us ladies energized while we do things like shave our legs with our pink razors while talking on our pink cell phones.
Some of you may recall that Tab already went this route a few years back with the similarly pink Tab Energy. Seriously, marketing people, not all women like pink. In fact, some of us kind of hate its infantilizing connotation and lurid hue. Or maybe I’m wrong. After all, Her was dreamed up by CEO Brett Jacobson, who recently appeared on Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker—and who better to tell me what I, as a woman, should like than this guy:
Interestingly, an 8.4-ounce can of regular Her has nearly as many calories as a 12-ounce can of regular Coke, plus a shitload of sodium and carbs, so it doesn’t really seem to be competing with Tab on the lo-cal energy-drink front. Though it does come in a diet iteration that has no carbs and no sugar, but plenty of delicious taurine. Wait, taurine is pink, right?
Taste: All sneaky calorie-gerrymandering aside, Fling bars are almost worth those pesky extra calories. We only got to taste the milk-chocolate version (Fling also comes in dark chocolate and hazelnut), but its airy meringue base topped with “delicate truffle” was surprisingly tasty, and the chocolate coating was suitably textured, if not exceedingly rich. The sparkles tasted like babies’ smiles and puppy kisses.
Sadly, once poured into a cup, both versions of Her turned out to be not delicious, girly pink, but the same urine-esque color of the majority of energy drinks. The full-calorie Her had a nice tang, extremely reminiscent of Squirt, though the energy-drink taurine aftertaste was very prominent. The lite version tasted extremely different, much more artificial-tasting—like pure sour cut with NutraSweet. Perhaps energy-drink connoisseurs could find more nuance between these and any other energy drink on the shelves, but the general reaction around the office was, “Yup, tastes like an energy drink.” Change the can colors to black and blue and throw the word “X-treem” somewhere on the label, and you might as well be drinking Him-brand energy drink. (That’s healthy, invigorating, masculine.)
Please note, none of our male taste-testers sprouted breasts or started talking about their feelings after consuming these products, so they are apparently safe for consumption by those in possession of a Y chromosome and enough self-confidence to eat a sparkly candy bar and Tab knock-off in public.
• “It looks like it has pink lip gloss on it.”
• “It feels really light. Like it’s fake.”
• “They’re ribbed for her pleasure.”
• “It’s pink! And sparkly!”
• “It’s just smaller and not that much healthier.”
• “It’s shimmery like a lipstick tube.”
• “The chocolate is good, though. Creamy.”
• “I feel like this wouldn’t be out of place at a bachelor party.”
• “I was expecting a Twix, and I was terribly disappointed.”
• “The meringue has the same texture as space food.”
• “As a woman, I approve.”
• “It tastes like air.”
• “Um, seriously, is Fling deliberately shaped like a tampon?”
• “The candy wasn’t bad. Very light, weight-wise.”
• “The chocolate was decent, but there wasn’t a ton of taste. Maybe that’s the idea, that the ladies won’t feel bad because it’s not terribly ‘indulgent’-tasting.”
• “If I were a chubby-chaser, I would buy these by the case.”
• “If they were a feature on Jun’s desk in mini form, I might eat one every six weeks.”
• “The chocolate coating was good. The middle bit was kind of a meringue stick. Could have done without that part.”
• “Look, it’s shiny pink! It’s like candy that's been rattling around inside a whore’s makeup case.”
• “I like the chick drink.”
• “It tastes like Squirt. If Country Time made Squirt.”
• “It has that kind of fruity bouquet.”
• “Did God tear a rib out of Red Bull and make Her?”
• “It doesn’t compete with Tab.”
• “There’s way too much of a bite at the beginning.”
• “Failure all around.”
• “I’m a bad judge, because I detest most energy drinks, and all the taurine ones taste the same to me. That said, if mixing this moose piss with raspberry vodka will get me laid, I will buy it by the case.”
• “Her ranks pretty high among the energy drinks I’ve tried. It's still got that taurine aftertaste though.”
• “A little fruity and artificial-tasting. Kind of like Fresca.”
• “Yup, that’s about as nasty as expected.”
• “The diet version is really sour. I think I like it better.”
• “And it’s full of antioxidants. So I don’t have cancer and I have a sour taste in my mouth.”
• “Oh, this is awful.”
• “It’s supposed to be pink lemonade, which should be sweeter and fruitier than straight lemonade, and instead it just tastes sour. But I like the intensity. Maybe they should market it as ‘X-treem lemon sour for men’ instead.”
• “It’s much more chemical-y than the regular.”
• “RC Cola : Tab :: Red Bull : Diet Her.”
• “I don’t taste the pink at all. This is awesomely powerful. It’s like drinking Sour Patch Kids.”
• “I like both Her and Diet Her, though I like the strong lemony taste of Diet Her better. But I’m not sure I could actually ever tell anyone ‘I'm drinking Her!’ I would expect them to point and smirk, and I would deserve it.”
Where to get it: Fling is currently only available over-the-counter in California, but you can order it online at flingchocolate.com. According to its website (herenergy.com), Her is available at a handful of Target stores across the country, as well as online.