Every Flavor of Gatorade, Ranked By an Extremely Hungover Human

Which is the superior thirst quencher?

gatorade flavors ranking
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Look. I don't know you, and you don't know me. It's fine. I'm in no mood to explain myself, or even introduce myself. But I will tell you why I felt the need to test and rank every current flavor of Gatorade known to humankind. 

I woke up this morning, feeling like I was both standing on and shouting at my head. My stomach, my poor innocent stomach, is currently enveloped in what most medical professionals would refer to, politely, as "bubble gut." My mouth is dry. I want to cry (though that might be unrelated). I feel like there are ants on my skin and hey — there actually are a couple. Why did I sleep on the floor? Why didn't I eat more?

Basically, I am hungover as shit.

And like any self-respecting young adult in the 21st century worth their weight in artisanal sea salt, when I feel like all of my nocturnal bad decisions have come crashing down on my head, stomach, heart, liver, and gallbladder (I mean, I think), I drink Gatorade. Pedialyte is for dorks, and working out is for overachievers. So, I turn to the performance enhancing sports drink made for athletes, but actually utilized by reeling man-children such as myself, as I lick my proverbial wounds.

In spring of 2021, PepsiCo released the Gatorlyte line, which includes less sugar and more electrolytes, geared toward its most athletic customers. While the new iteration includes flavors in cherry-lime, orange, and strawberry-kiwi, these are not included in our list below because we definitely don't consider ourselves the target demographic.

So then, I ask you, presumably un-hungover reader — who is a better candidate than myself, in my current state, to review each and every Gatorade flavor?

That was a rhetorical question, by the way. I'm just going to do it. I don't have time to deal with you. Just let me turn off the lights, and get some Advil, then we can get started. We need to hurry. I'm going to pass out.

25. Flow: Kiwi Strawberry

If you haven't stayed current with Gatorade trends over the past few years: congrats to your liver! The aptly named "flow" line is apparently designed to roll into an easy, smooth finish. Which… I guess is what people want from their Gatorade these days? Kids these days are so hard to please with their tablets and their Pokemons and their vaccinations. At any rate, smoothness doesn't really matter when you are drinking what vaguely resembles tropically-accented toothpaste.

24. Fierce: Grape

Where the "Flow" line of Gatorade touts itself as being smooth as heck, the "Fierce" lineup promises the exact opposite: a taste that is so intense, it might just make you rethink everything you know about sports/hangover-leaning hydration solutions. And this grape is incredibly fierce. But not in a RuPaul Drag Race way. More like a "did they inject steroids into a grape, put it in the microwave, and cut it with cough syrup?" way. I felt like I needed a chaser. They don't make grape ice cream… should they make grape Gatorade?

23. Low Sugar Grape

Traditionally, the "low sugar" varieties of flavors tend to be… well… worse than everything else that actually contains sugar. And this is no exception. Besides Fierce: Grape and Flow: Kiwi Strawberry, of course. Which is really more a testament to those two flavors' tornado of "meh" than anything that Low Sugar Grape does right.

22. Low Sugar Cool Blue

This flavor promises three things. It's definitely blue. It's (very obviously) low sugar. But it is decidedly uncool. Two out of three aint bad.

21. Low Sugar Lemon-Lime

I can't believe I had to try this one, too.

20. Orange Zero Sugar

This is where the list starts to get interesting. As I claimed previously, flavors with low sugar are usually worse than anything else — and by that logic, flavors with NO sugar should be even worse, no? Gatorade's newest flavor line, "Zero Sugar," dropped at tail-end of June 2018, and it's... interesting. While the low-sugar has a saccharine, almost "fake" taste to it, the zero sugar is a little bit smoother, and has a super subtle flavor that tasted a lot like a low-cal Vitamin Water. Somehow, No sugar bested low sugar. What a time to be alive and drinking electrolyte-rich sports drinks whilst nursing a hangover.

19. Lemon-Lime Zero Sugar

This zero sugar riff on the original Gatorade flavor (which we'll be seeing later in the list, obviously) does a pretty swell job of keeping that "Lemonade on amphetamines" flavor of the original, while somehow removing all sugar. Is this healthy? Or at least, healthy-ish? Undetermined. But it can't be worse, right?

18. Glacier Cherry Zero Sugar

Essentially the No Sugar varietal of Gatorade's lauded and legendary "Frost" line, Glacier Cherry Zero Sugar is a pretty fine tasting drink for those looking to watch their sugar intake — which, I guess, should be all of us. I can even see some people that are turned off by the normally uber-sweet flavors of traditional Gatorade opting for this flavor as it has a much softer bite, without a bizarre, "fake" aftertaste. In a recent ad for the zero sugar line, a gravelly-voiced announcer asks "James Harden wouldn't go to the game wearing outdated fashion, so why would he choose an outdated sports drink?" I'm not sure if regular Gatorade is "outdated" (and for the sake of this article, I sure as hell hope not), but I do think that those looking for a Gatorade with less sugar, should look no further.

17. Organic Strawberry

And this is where the flavors actually start to get enjoyable. Though this one has the vague, almost-too-familiar "bottom-of-the-farmer's-market barrel" aftertaste. That's what they get for trying to be eco-friendly.

16. Organic Mixed Berry

This was berry average.

15. Organic Passionfruit

If we're going to be totally honest, this pretty much tastes like the other two Organic flavors. I just ranked it higher because it reminds me of my favorite Drake song. (Hotline Bling). (Because it makes me realize me I need to stop wearing less and going out more).

14. Flow: Blackberry Wave

"Flow: Blackberry Wave" sounds like instructions you'd give you barber circa 1986. Tastes like it, too.

13. Flow: Pineapple Mango

This one has a very unappetizing coloring to it. I am also fairly sure I am allergic to both pineapples and mangos. Is it hot in here or it just my body rejecting literally everything that I've been doing to it for the past 24 hours? Anyway, this one is not bad. But it's not making me feel better.

12. Fierce: Green Apple

I'm actually usually a very big fan of green apple-flavored things… including green apples. I consider Granny Smith to be an invisible, looming matronly influence in my life. This super sour fierce incantation of green apple flavoring looks like the Chicago river on Saint Patrick's Day. But it doesn't taste like it (which duh, is good). It's a little too strong for this morning's delicate sensibilities, though I could see myself getting down with this flavor if I was out sporting, and not simply hanging on to consciousness.

11. Fierce: Fruit Punch

If you've ever begrudgingly looked down at a cup of fruit punch, and thought: "Damnit punch, why can't you just be a little more fierce?!" Gatorade has the fluid of your dreams. A little too fierce for my tastes this AM though.

10. Fierce: Melon

So, they don't really specify which of the many available melons this sucker encompasses. But — given it's traffic cone orange hue and 'loupey essence — I have to venture it's mainly cantaloupe-based. And as a big cantaloupe fan, this pleases me greatly. It certainly captured the melon-y essence of the 'loupe (as I call it). But, it gets a little tiring after like, half the bottle. And by tiring, I mean I almost threw up. But I couldn't stop drinking. It's like that snake that eats its own butt.

9. Tropical Cooler

I've had cooler.

8. Citrus Cooler

Like this, for example.

7. Flow: Tidal Punch

This is, miraculously, the highest ranking of all the Flow/Fierce experiments. And I think my enjoyment of this particular flavor really opened my bloodshot eyes to a key truth I've been missing in this ranking thus far: so much of my opinion is based on the color of the liquids in question. In fact, much of the appeal of Gatorade, to a childlike mind such as my own, is the kaleidoscopic eruption of enchanting colors these flavors cover. Tidal Punch has a delicious, Antifreeze hue to it that just compels me to drink it, enjoy it, and rank it accordingly. It's also easily the "smoothest" of all the Flows. Tidal Punch is the fulfillment of the promise of the Flow line. And me likes it.

6. Fruit Punch

This is Fruit Punch, sans fierceness. You know, Fruit Punch used to be one my absolute favorite flavors, but somehow, I feel like its Fierce cousin's assailment on my senses has actually slightly tainted the regular flavor for me. It's like eating Double-Stuffed Oreos, then never being able to go back to the regular stuff(ed). Still, it's a standard. And it's slightly more mellow (duh) than the Fierce incarnation. Which right now, is a good thing. If you're hungover, always go regular. That's what Dad told me when I turned 21. That's what I'm telling you now.

5. Orange

Orange Gatorade is what it is. You know it. I know it. It's solid, in liquid form. I can appreciate this even in my not-so-solid state. It's dependable. Reliable. The pack mule of the Gatorade line. Ranking it any higher would be disingenuous. Ranking it any lower would be a disservice. This was made for #5. It didn't disappoint me, which is really all that I can ask from a sports drink. It's more than I actually ask from myself.

4.  Frost Cool Blue

3.  Frost Glacier Freeze

2.  Frost Riptide Rush

And now, we've come to a simple truth that — frankly — I've known to be self-evident since I played roller hockey in third grade: the Frost flavors of Gatorade kick some serious ass. They are the shit. They're like ice cold ambrosia drained from the glaciers of the Gods. If winter sports icon Kristi Yamaguchi made a deal with Satan to chemically extract, liquify, and bottle the grace, poise, and candor of her gold-medal-winning skating routine into tasteful and refreshing packaging, it would come out like the Frost flavors. Hitting one of these when you are hungover is like biting into a Peppermint Patty with your head in the freezer while liquid nitrogen gets poured down your underpants. This actually made me feel better. Choosing one of these over the others would be like choosing a favorite child. I don't have children, but I can only assume it would be this hard. But I can tell you, if and when I do have children, I'm naming my first born "Riptide Rush."

1. Lemon Lime

It's not the flashiest. It's not the fiercest. It's definitely not the flow-iest. But the original flavor of Gatorade — developed by University of Florida researchers in an effort to give their football players an electrolyte-laden leg up on the competition (go Gators!) — is still the most effective at pumping dehydrated idiots back into normalcy. It's inoffensive, yet satisfying. Familiar, yet oddly exhilarating. Lemon, but — you know — also lime. Anyway you slice it, this is the best flavor of Gatorade for the hungover, or the hungunder. Which is a word I just made up to describe sober people.

On that note, I need to go to sleep. My job here is done.

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Wil Fulton works at Thrillist and is also a passionate doer of other stuff. For more info, you'll have to do a free background check.