One of HuffPost Food's favorite New Yorker articles of the past few years was Joan Acocella's 2008 exhaustive exploration of the topic of hangovers. Acocella's central message in the piece was that hangovers, because they don't have the public health significance of something like cancer or AIDS, had never gotten serious attention from the scientific community. That means that most trusted cures for hangovers are the products of traditional folklore rather than hard science. Acocella took pains to try and explain the possible science behind the anecdotal efficacy of hangover cures like kimchi stew and pickle juice -- but basically, she left the suffering to try whatever cures they wish to on the basis of faith.
In the past few months, though, a small host of companies have released new products that are being billed as scientifically rigorous cures and preventatives for hangovers. HuffPost Food gave a few of them a try to see if they might provide some succor this New Years.
The product that's attracted the most buzz so far is an effervescent tablet that goes by the name of Blowfish. It was developed by a Harvard Business School alum and was originally marketed as the first FDA-approved cure for hangovers. As it turned out, that wasn't quite fully accurate -- instead, its ingredients (mostly aspirin and caffeine) are already FDA approved, so the pills didn't have to go through FDA testing before hitting shelves.
But to make it into this article, they did have to go through HuffPost Food testing. The morning after the AOL holiday party -- a raucous affair, two young staffers, vaguely but not disastrously hungover, popped two pills each into tall glasses of water. The pills fizzed enthusiastically and tinged the water a pale shade of yellow. The ensuing beverage tasted basically like Crystal Light Lemonade: not great, but also not off-putting. The combination of the caffeine and a high dose of aspirin actually seemed to have some effect for both the testers. It wasn't significantly better than the good old Advil-coffee combo, but the effervescent lemonade situation made it a little easier to handle on the stomach. Overall, it seems like a good bet if you're desperate, though, at $2.99 for two tablets, also a bit pricy.
The next-buzziest of the products, Bytox, is by far the strangest. It's a patch -- like a Nicorette patch -- that allegedly delivers high doses of hangover-helping vitamins to the body transdermally, if applied 45 minutes before drinking begins. The company that makes Bytox has a doctor -- Dr. Leonard Grossman, a plastic surgeon -- on call, and he says that everyone he knows who's tried the patch has successfully avoided hangovers after even heavy nights of drinking.
Count our testers as medical miracles, then. The two intrepid souls applied the patch as recommended before a night of serious, but not totally out-of-control, drinking -- and awoke the next morning feeling as if they'd been hit by a truck. Apparently letting 10000% of one's daily value of thiamin trickle into your blood stream through the skin on your forearm can only get you so far.
The last -- and least creative -- of the cures is a new soda called Mercy. It got a bit of a spike in reputability at the end of this week, when Gwyneth Paltrow told subscribers of her GOOP newsletter that she swears by it. It tastes basically like a Flintstones vitamin dissolved in ginger ale, and medical experts aside from Ms. Paltrow have publically poo-pooed it. But our testers had nothing but praise for its sleek, blue-and-silver-on-matte-white-aluminum design. So even if you're consigned by the laziness of science to a world without an effective hangover preventative, you can at least be in pain in style.