Jewish World Review July 23, 2001 / 3 Menachem-Av, 5761

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

That java jive -- I DON'T drink colas. I don't do decaf. I like my coffee so hot I have to sign a release form to buy it. I'm a large-black-to-go kind of guy. My morning goal is to drink just enough coffee to set my back teeth grinding, form beads of sweat on my forehead the size of marbles, and cause my hands to shake uncontrollably.

How do I know when my caffeine needs have been met? Simple. When the slightest noise makes me jump four feet in the air, and when I can no longer hold small objects, I use both hands to turn the cup over. It's a good system. It works for me.

But I'm no snob. I realize that everybody has his or her own favored method of caffeine ingestion. Some chew tablets. Some sprinkle instant coffee on their corn flakes. Some enjoy a frosty malted laced with ground beans. Some make a thin paste of sugar, cream, and Italian Roast and smear it on their gums. These are all viable ways to stay awake.

And more are being launched every day.

A few years ago, there was a thing called Water Joe-- a sixteen ounce bottle of well water with a 70 milligram dollop of caffeine. Red Bull, the new beverage craze, offsets its bizarre taste with a healthy dose of caffeine. Good old Mountain Dew may taste like a lemon soda, but it can keep you up for days.

Apparently the market for caffeine is endless. There must be a way for an entrepreneur like me to cash in on it. How about a Prozac and coffee capsule? Easily dissolved in water, it picks you up then puts you down! (My last product along these lines, ZAC 'N' JACK-- a mixture of Prozac and bourbon-- did very well, especially among college students.) We could make a caffeinated lipstick, balm, and nail polish. My research lab is currently working on a sunscreen lotion that will block harmful ultra-violet radiation, and deliver a 100 milligrams of java right through your skin.

My development team experimented with a coffee styling mousse. Unfortunately, it just wouldn't keep you awake. All it did was curl your hair.

A portable caffeine i.v. drip (for use in the car or home) is now in the testing stages.

Iím also working on a caffeinated stuffing that will keep the family alert during those long Thanksgiving dinners. And we've come up with a maple syrup/coffee combination that'll have you wolfing down waffles compulsively till lunchtime.

How about a caffeine patch, like the nicotine patch? We could caffeinate envelope glue, or the backs of postage stamps. How about installing pre-packaged coffee filters right in the shower head? Get your morning jolt and a shampoo at the same time!

Now, some might see this array of products as evidence of a conspiracy by coffeemakers to get America hooked on their product. If that's true, it's fine with me. It would lead directly to the next marketing phase: mass decaffeination. Highly trained in deprogramming techniques, equipped with mini-vacuums that can detect and suck caffeine from any substance, our special uniformed agents would travel in two-person teams from door to door, rather like Mormons or UPS employees.

As the final stage of the decaffeination program, they would distribute sample packets of herbal tea among the desperate and jittery.

The beauty part? The first one's free.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales