The screech of the alarm clock penetrates deeper into my slumber, and eventually it sounds like a pair of belligerent geese is squawking inches away from my earlobes. The unwelcome cacophony meets in my fuzzy skull as I awake at an unholy hour for a Saturday of 7:15 am. In 45 minutes, I’m scheduled to meet an interview subject.
The immediate order of the morning, however, is to test whether I'm hungover.
I have hazy memories of the previous night, when I volunteered to test a new product aimed at reducing the symptoms of overindulging in alcohol.
Luckily, I documented the night with notes and photographs. One picture depicts the digital oven clock reading "12:53," providing a helpful hint of when I was still awake. The last note of the night, written in my roommate's handwriting, tells me that I knocked back a 2-ounce bottle of Never Hungover at 12:09 am.
"Party Tonight," its label reads, "Feel Great Tomorrow."
Do we really need to strip away the consequences from drinking, possibly incentivizing more of it?
Manufacturers promote a story about how the "cure" was discovered—that the father of Parrish Whitaker donated his kidney to a daughter in need. Following the procedure, the two took a homeopathic remedy recommended by the family's holistic doctor. Parrish, seeing their recovery, "was so impressed with the formula that he became curious and experimented with other uses, only to find that the antioxidant was incredibly effective in preventing a hangover," says a news release. According to Whitaker's hometown newspaper, The Bristol Herald Courier, he took the remedy during a 14-drink bender and woke up without a headache.
The Maloof family, famous in New Mexico as the founders of a beer distribution business, purchased the product from Whitaker after Phillip Maloof met Whitaker at a convention, according to the company, and found Never Hungover effective in preventing his own symptoms from a night of drinking. Whitaker, a Texas resident, is now a co-owner of the company, which manufactures the product in Austin.
Big plans are in store for the potion, including distribution in half a million stores nationwide in four years, Joe Maloof, shareholder in NeverHungover and president of Maloof Companies, tells SFR.
I purchased three bottles for $12.95 at the GNC at Santa Fe Place.
They're bulky in my pockets as I head to the bar. The label instructs me to drink one bottle "before or while drinking" and to consume one bottle for every four drinks.
Notes show reviews of the citrus-flavored remedy by myself and co-conspirators. "It's like a sweet tart," intoned a taste tester, "a diet sweet tart." Another remarks: "I mean it can go down—it's not terrible." I compare it to the sports drink All Sport, when it was carbonated.
Reading the ingredients gives the impression this is one co-op grocery aisle packed in a small bottle, as they include extracts of aloe vera, green tea, eleuthero root, milk thistle, rhodiola rosea root and Gotu Kola, along with citric acid and coloring. One bottle contains much of the daily value of various B vitamins, with some niacin and folic acid for good measure.
At the bar, I first order a Trappist Pale Ale. Then, I mull between two different cabernets. "If you want to go classy," the waiter jokes, trying to sell me on the expensive brand, "go with the box cabernet," the cheapest cabernet available. I go classy. "8:42," my notes read, "Finished boxed wine." I drink a Cider Different and help a companion extinguish a half-pint of Kölsch. Next comes a porter, then an IPA.
It's unclear when I consumed the second bottle of Never Hungover, but it happened sometime before I got a ride home, where I shared in a six-pack of Mickey's malt liquor with roommates.
Physician Jeffrey G Wiese and his colleagues used the term "veisalgia" to describe a hangover in research published in 2000 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, derived from "the Norwegian kveis, or 'uneasiness following debauchery,' and the Greek algia, or 'pain.'"
The research noted that symptoms of veisalgia vary in each person, but most commonly include headaches, fatigue, nausea and a "poor sense of overall being."
Those hangover symptoms cost our society millions annually in lost productivity. A Centers for Disease Control report stated that excessive drinking caused the US to lose $223.5 billion in 2006—72 percent from losses in workplace productivity. The Mayo Clinic website recommends straightforward cures: Drink water, eat bland foods, sleep and take painkillers. It also says B vitamins, a key ingredient of Never Hungover, might also help.
My job requires plenty of social interaction, a task I've found unbearable in previous hangovers and the reason I curb or entirely avoid drinking on nights before work duties. I actually can't recall my last hangover.
I awake feeling tired, with a slight inflammation in my head, nothing to justify Advil. At Revolution Bakery, the place of the interview, I note my condition as "groggy, thirsty" and found the noisy music and morning light objectionable. After the interview I steal 40 winks. Despite the nap, I feel slightly sluggish for the rest of the day, yet not incapacitated or surly as I would have expected.
I speculate whether I'd eaten too much to produce a mean hangover—eggs and hash browns for supper, followed by potato skins at the bar, more hash browns at home with cheese, then, according to a photograph, a Fudgesicle dipped in maple syrup, which I washed down with a glass of water before bed.
Yet, if it did work, I ponder: Is a hangover cure an encouraging development for the world, particularly New Mexico, known for its high rates of alcoholism? Do we really need to strip away the consequences from drinking, possibly incentivizing more of it?
Joe Maloof has a take on that.
"If you're going to drink—and of course you have to drink responsibly—this helps you drink responsibly," he says, "because the ingredients help you the next day. So I think it's a great thing for the industry. I look at it in a positive way."
Maloof swears by the potion's taste and nutritional value. He says he drinks three bottles per day for the vitamin content alone, contending that it's also gaining popularity among bodybuilders. "The one thing great about the product is that everything that's in it is good for you," he says, adding later, "A little baby could drink it."
Late comedian Phyllis Diller sums it up best.
"Health," she's quoted as saying, "what my friends are always drinking to before they fall down."