It's Festival Season: Don't Pack Your Pedialyte
“They slapped me back to life and they telephoned my wife and they pumped me full of Pedialyte.” -Jason Isbell, Super 8
Nearly three years ago, The Atlantic wrote a story called “Does Pedialyte Cure Hangovers?” The story pointed out that the drink, an oral electrolyte solution for kids, was now being marketed to treat the symptoms of a hangover. From the story:
“While the product and its label will remain mostly unchanged, what is changing is how Pedialyte is marketed online. Abbott is already well into a robust social-media effort targeting active, partying people, and, like a scene in a satirical novel, free samples of this drink, which, let’s remember, is primarily for toddlers, are being distributed at music festivals and sporting events. It’s an interesting dissonance: On shelves, it looks like it’d be at home next to a crib; online, it looks like it’d be at home at Coachella.
Even if Pedialyte’s tweets imply the hangover use case, the product’s label doesn’t go that far. 'Research shows that hydration is recommended to help relieve symptoms resulting from occasional alcohol consumption. Pedialyte is to help prevent mild to moderate dehydration,” says Michelle Zendah, a spokesperson for Abbott. “That’s the extent we go to.' (Again, in the context of hangovers, the usefulness of hydration is debatable.)”
What alcoholics know is that Pedialyte has long been a desperate morning-after drink. I never got the memo until I heard Jason Isbell, himself in recovery, sing the line from Super 8. “They pumped me full of Pedialyte.”
"Oh," I thought when I first heard that lyric, hungover.
I only knew the drink as something I gave my son for an upset stomach. Oh.
But I took plenty of other things to “deal with” horrendous hangovers and assorted physical symptoms of my body rejecting alcohol. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, shakiness, dizziness and the general feeling like I might die were not uncommon. But you have a problem with alcohol, Erin, you say. This is true. But you don’t have to have a “problem” to feel anywhere from less than good to death warmed over after drinking. It is ethanol. Bodies react to copious amounts of alcohol -- anywhere from a hangover to say, death.
But that’s another story. This one is about the fact that Abbot is still creating marketing content that encourages drinking and drinking a lot.
"But they are just capitalizing on an existing market," you might say. OK. Perhaps that's just how the market works. But when we see content like this, we're going to raise a big red flag. It's just about staying "hydrated." Right. Keep scrolling.
Actually, no that shouldn't be a saying.
They use this hashtag #notjustforbabies, which is pretty creepy. Granted, it's also marketing to adults who are getting over the flu or have just run a race. But this? Nope.
Here's one that illustrates the "preventive" benefits. (Though of course they aren't going to explicitly say it prevents anything.") From the Pedialyte website: "And if you’re flying to a wedding or another drinking destination, Powder Packs canget through security no problem—and they fit easily in your carry-on."
It goes on and on.
So here's the deal: people have been coming up with hangover "remedies" and "cures" since the beginning of time. We've received submissions for other "solutions" in the form of things you can drink before, during and after. These are our thoughts;
If you have to drink Pedialyte to counteract the effects of alcohol, maybe you need to rethink things.
There is another way to live.
One in which you can create a life in which you don't need to drink Pedialyte to function after a night out? One in which the party that you attend doesn't cause you to get so drunk that you have to drink this stuff. And the part is called your life. A life in which you are healthy and well.
Of course, as always -- drink or don't drink -- that's your decision. Wherever you fall, please consider the lunacy of content that says, "Go on, you can have just a little more." It's a slippery slope. We can Tell Better Stories.