Hi-C Flavors Ranked Worst To Best

Hi-C, that super-sweet thirst quencher that makes orange juice taste like sink water, has been refreshing kids — and many adults — for generations. For many, the hook of downing an abundance of vitamin C (hence its oh-so-clever name) outweighed the hefty sugar content. And while it wasn't quite on par with Tang, the preferred powered drink that was supposedly adored by space-faring astronauts, the truth about Hi-C was that it caught on ... for a time, anyway. Take, Ecto Cooler, a groovy green flavor that capitalized on Ghostbuster fever in the mid-80s and which saw Hi-C in its heyday. Now, thanks to the juice box and powdered drink section of grocery stores everywhere, Hi-C has found a stable place alongside Capri Sun and Kool-Aid Jammers.

It may have begun with just a single orange flavor, but as it grew through the years, Hi-C unveiled a veritable orchard overflowing with other fruit flavors. The addition of sugar-free mix-ins as part of the product line makes the prospect more palatable for grown-ups, too. 

As with every flavor array in the beverage spectrum, there's a hierarchy that determines which formulations are thirst-quenching sensations and which ones aren't worth even a second swig. We put the squeeze on this juice-adjacent drink to see which of the currently available flavor variations pack the most powerful punch.

11. Mashin' Mango Melon

Rather than package Mashin' Mango Melon in juice boxes and water bottle mix-ins like its other flavors, Hi-C presents this fruit mash-up only as a powdered packet containing zero sugar. Maybe this ranks so low because the mix of mango and melons is more of a grown-up option. It's hard to picture any Hi-C-drinking kid coming in from a hard day on the playground and asking for a juice box that contains two such sophisticated tastes. 

For anyone taking a chance on this version of the vitamin C-packed beverage, "no sugar" means you'll be hit by unmistakable artificial sweetness right out of the box. Though all other Hi-C flavors have sucralose and acesulfame potassium in the blend, each also includes high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices. Could keeping just the fake stuff be an improvement?

Not likely. One Amazon reviewer points out that the mango and melon essences are hardly a match made in flavor heaven, while another remarks that the melon is too concentrated. Maybe those kids who stick with simpler flavor profiles are onto something. At least when you go with a flavor that lines up with your favorite candy, you know what you're getting.

10. Flashin' Fruit Punch

Few boxed juice drinkers find fault with fruit punch. Usually, the blend is so non-descript that whatever comes out of the straw seems accurate enough. With Flashin' Fruit Punch, Hi-C takes on the original birthday party beverage. This is also an option Arby's includes in its drink menu. This might make fast-food lovers pleased as, well, punch. When soda is too sparkly and water too weak, a third choice that feels special is sweet. 

But the inclusion of only orange and pineapple juice on the ingredient list tells you all you need to know about what's considered punch-worthy here. Though this combination is a tasty affair, to call it "punch" is to reduce what punch is meant to be: a mélange of various fruit flavors that meld into a single sensational drink that's easy to spike. 

One Amazon reviewer notes the unappealing aftertaste of this Hi-C flavor, which is likely due to the inclusion of artificial sweeteners. With superior options such as Hawaiian Punch, Flashin' Fruit Punch is a pale stand-in. As a stand-alone punch swinging on its own, it doesn't even land a blow.

9. Torrential Tropical Punch

The name of this Hi-C flavor suggests a raging flood of sweet fruit flavor that attempts to put an island spin on a more domestic fruit punch blend. However, the only flavors found in the box are pineapple and orange, which replicates Hi-C's Flashin' Fruit Punch in the opposite order. It's not only confusing for drinkers who think they're getting a Caribbean remix, but it's also a sneaky way of getting consumers to buy two different versions of what amounts to the same beverage. Not cool, Hi-C.

What's the point of having two different punch flavors if they both contain the same tastes? There may be more pineapple than orange in this mash-up, but that doesn't make it any more tropical. If Hi-C can teach us any sort of lesson here, it's that trusting a flashy name won't cut it in the juice world. Be sure to read the label and find out just how tropical your punch actually is. Don't be surprised if the evidence leaves you feeling like you've been sucker punched.

8. Blazin' Blueberry

Blueberry is another taste that has found a new form in the world of flavored foods. A true blueberry barely resembles blueberry-flavored products. Still, when you taste it, you should at least know what it's trying to be. 

With Blazin' Blueberry, images of tongue-staining sno-cone syrup come to mind. The potential for a fun time is real with this sweet variant, as all those candy-coated experiences of youth have set a high bar. While a truer juice drink would be missing an essential element of excitement and nostalgia, a poorly-crafted formulation might leave beverage buyers blue.

So is Blazin' Blueberry big on flavor? As one Amazon reviewer puts it, "Tastes like grape, minus the sweet." Not a good sign. If the best you can deliver on a berry flavor is a lesser version of grape, it's time to try again. The last thing a juice company should do is dash the dreams of flavor fiends who know what they're looking for in a blueberry drink.

7. Strawberry Kiwi Kraze

Strawberries and kiwis are close enough in flavor that the blended charm of these two cute fruits has become a familiar concoction. Beverages from Capri Sun to Monster offer this delicious duo for their followers to indulge in. Not one to pass up a flavor movement, Hi-C presents Strawberry Kiwi Kraze as its entry in the race to capture consumers and their taste buds. But while there's plenty of room for competition, anyone jumping into the fray has to be ready to run at top speed. Drink sales can be so dramatic sometimes.

Hi-C comes up with only a middling take on the strawberry-kiwi sensation. Reviews on Influenster are high, if limited, with one reviewer even appreciating the colorless contents of the box. This feature is called out on the box, declaring that the juice is a stain-free choice for kids who may get a little too aggressive with the squeeze. 

While there may be nothing colossally disappointing about Hi-C's take, to call this strawberry kiwi drink a "Kraze" is likely wishful thinking on the part of the company's marketing team. Spelling it with a K is an undeniably adorable touch, though.

6. Grabbin' Grape

What squeezebox sippers have come to know as grape flavor comes closer to the jelly aisle of the grocery store than the produce section. Grabbin' Grape takes a shot at a taste that ranks highly among Kool-Aid lovers. And the color associated with the Hi-C version of a grape drink is eggplant purple, because of course, it is, even if what you taste is as far from a real grape as grapes are from wine. You are most certainly not drinking vintage stuff here.

Grape juice is often used as a sweetener even in non-grape flavored beverages. Oddly enough, the pear juice content outranks the grape juice content in the Hi-C recipe, which may make consumers wonder if they would recognize a real grape-based beverage if they tasted one. 

The good news: the Kool-Aid Man has nothing to worry about, even if there's no juice whatsoever in the pitcher. With this flavor, Hi-C won't be dethroning the king of sugary sweet beverages anytime soon.

5. Wild Cherry

Whenever the word "wild" is included in cherry-flavored items, the idea of sweetness applied with great abandon comes to mind. If plain ol' cherry is a taste sensation, then wild cherry has to be an order of magnitude more incredible, right? 

For Wild Cherry Hi-C, the ambition is to be applauded. They could have gone the domesticated cherry route, but the brave juice formulators at Hi-C put their lives on the line (maybe) tracking down wild cherries for our enjoyment. Such risks are rarely undertaken for refreshment.

Okay, that's a bit exaggerated. Still, the hope is that wild cherry flavor will present something closer to fruit and further from a Lifesaver, which this doesn't quite achieve. An online search for packs of this savage beverage turns up very few results, as it appears that Wild Cherry is out of stock. Is this an indicator of popularity, suggesting that fans have cleared the shelves? Or is it a sign that the population of cherries in the wild has been depleted and there's nothing more to draw from for this fearsome flavor? The imagination reels at the possibility that Hi-C has exhausted its supply. The sweet mystery may never be solved.

4. Boppin' Strawberry

Strawberry is a fickle flavor to recreate in juice drinks. The recipe never quite balances the fruit's mix of tangy and sweet. Instead, manufacturers more often come up with a chemical combination that tastes like lollipops and jelly beans but is not exactly fruit. 

The situation is slightly different with Boppin' Strawberry, which fares better than other concoctions by including real strawberry juice in the mix. Sure, it comes after high fructose corn syrup on the ingredients list, but at least it's in there. The same can't always be said for other sugary treats that aspire to be strawberry-flavored.

Strangely, strawberry doesn't seem to be juice enough to cut it for Hi-C. According to the ingredient lineup, this formula needs a little help from pear juice. This could be a compromise that adds sweetness while subtracting the fun zing of real strawberries. Why wouldn't the company stack the deck in favor of straight-up strawberry? Surely, Hi-C has a logical reason. Nonetheless, it's reassuring to know that there is at least a natural source of strawberry coming through in every sip.

3. Smashin' Wild Berry

What even is wild berry flavor? Is it blackberries and raspberries? Blueberries and strawberries? Is it all four, none of the above, or a mix of something else? Without more explanation, we can only guess what this sugary sipper is supposed to taste like. And with a name like Smashin' Wild Berry, the expectations are high that it will have a bunch of berry essence. However, we know better than to hope there'll be an overwhelming berry anything coming out of the box. Even optimistic juice drinkers are more careful with their dreams than that.

Thankfully, Hi-C puts us out of our mystery misery by listing the berries in question as blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry. These are perhaps the best representatives of the berry world and a great trio to create the sweetest harmony possible. The fact that Smashin' Wild Berry currently appears to be in short supply suggests that this flavor is a hit with the Hi-C set. If true, the company may want to smash the production button and crank out a little more to keep beverage fans satisfied.

2. Poppin' Lemonade

It's hard for a drink company to go wrong with lemonade. Sure, it may not live up to stuff like the heavenly pour that Chick-fil-A offers. But it's lemon juice, sugar, and water. How difficult could it be to get that right? With Hi-C Poppin' Lemonade, your hopes may get high for a real winner that satisfies with a touch of pucker. It isn't too much to ask for such a familiar flavor to be kept on the simple side of the scale.

It seems that Poppin' Lemonade is one Hi-C that brings its A-game. One reviewer on Influenster does argue that the flavor tends toward the sweet side, though that may be what many lemonade lovers are looking for anyway. Notably, this is one Hi-C flavor that can be purchased as a soda fountain syrup through Amazon for restaurant dispensers and pop machines. An old-fashioned refreshment that does very little tinkering with natural flavoring is a relief for anyone who wants their boxed beverages as close to the real deal as possible.

1. Orange Lavaburst

Orange Lavaburst harkens back to Hi-C's citrus origins but with the added excitement of a volcanic moniker. What thirsty kid wouldn't love taking slug after slug of a drink that compares itself to lava? The implication of fiery color coupled with a powerful blast of orange flavor is hard to overlook. The familiarity of orange-flavored drinks gives this sipper a definite advantage, too. This uncarbonated confection is popular enough that it made a comeback at McDonald's after the clamor of cranky customers lowered the boom on the Golden Arches. Has a non-soda beverage ever been so beloved? Not any on this list, anyway.

Orange Lavaburst leads the Hi-C flavor parade. Even if it doesn't always approximate orange in its natural form, this generates excitement when it shows up on a soda fountain or in a vending machine. Finding juice boxes filled with such a sweet treasure makes the first and foremost form of Hi-C the most favored flavor in the bunch.