It’s now scripture that Pedialyte, not Gatorade, is the key to curing what ails you during a hangover (killer or otherwise). Unsurprisingly then, these days you’ll find countless social media posts talking about Pedialyte chugged, boofed and snorted in the pursuit of ameliorating the relentless urge to vomit and/or the feeling that an ice pick is being driven through your frontal cortex with a shovel. These posts are mainly the work of college bros, but there are a few women, too, talking about putting Pedialyte up their noses (or pouring it down their throats at a rapid rate).
“Speaking from the experience of being in the thick of bro culture back in college, Pedialyte for hangovers was well-known and prominent,” says Mike Mancini, a self-proclaimed “former bro” and director of media for The Black Sheep, a college media company. Before graduating from UConn in 2015, Mancini says he and his friends would “legitimately make morning-after Pedialyte runs, with Pedialyte being the primary focus and getting breakfast being secondary.” As such, he adds: “I’ve seen people throw up Pedialyte in Bruegger’s Bagels’ parking lot so many times.”
It continues to be a staple of his recovery today as well. “Nowadays, at 26, when my hangovers are so bad that I think I’m going to legitimately die, Pedialyte is a constant,” he explains. “I’ve tried coconut water. I’ve tried Gatorade. But Pedialyte is the only thing I legitimately trust to make me feel better within hours.”
Like any good brand that’s mostly marketed toward parents and infants, Pedialyte reps were coy about the hangover-relief methods Mancini suggests. “We don’t endorse heavy drinking or claim to cure hangovers,” says Eric Ryan, a Pedialyte marketing rep. “But we know our users find confidence in having a trusted rehydration solution that works.”
This part is easy to explain/understand: For the most part, you feel shitty after drinking because alcohol, being a diuretic, made you piss away all the electrolytes your body needs to feel normal. “Electrolytes are minerals essential to your health,” says Jennifer Williams, a research scientist at Abbott Laboratories, the makers of Pedialyte. “They help carry electrical signals that power your nerves and muscles, maintain your blood’s proper PH and balance fluids in your body. You get electrolytes from what you eat and drink, and you lose them any time you lose fluids.”
And Pedialtye? Well, according to Williams, it’s a “medical-grade rehydration solution.” In fact, per Ryan, Pedialyte has “approximately twice as many electrolytes per liter as leading sports drinks.” Not to mention, the Pedialyte AdvancedCare Plus line “has approximately three times as many electrolytes per liter as leading sports drinks.”
So again, it makes total sense to employ Pedialyte in the service of eradicating your hangover. What doesn’t make as much sense is how certain people — especially the college bro variety — are ingesting it. Such as…
Okay, so this isn’t so crazy. We chug all sorts of liquids — from water to beer to the aforementioned Gatorade. In terms of efficacy, Ryan says the speed in which you pour Pedialyte into your mouth and down your throat doesn’t matter. However, “if you’re dealing with stomach issues,” he says, most likely referencing the flu and not puking up 14 mega-margaritas from the night before, “it’s probably best to start slow and test the waters — that’s why our label usage instructions indicate taking small sips to start.”
Unfortunately for these bros (and broettes), Ryan explains that without water mixed in, “they’re missing out on the fluids, which are key to rehydrating properly.” That doesn’t sound like you won’t get electrolytes when you snort Pedialyte, but come on, just drink it. You’re not impressing anyone. And you’re probably not gonna feel as good either.
Though no videos exist (yet) of bros boofing, aka buttchugging, Pedialyte, there’s no shortage of them asking the brand’s official Twitter account if it’s a good idea or not.
It’s not. Per a study on this very subject back in 1970, “even after 90 minutes of exposure,” the human rectum doesn’t absorb electrolytes very well. In short, Pedialyte should be consumed via the esophagus, not via a tube pushed into your butthole. Or as Williams puts it, “Pedialyte is a medical-grade hydration solution and should be used according to the package instructions.”
Some bros have taken to skipping the middleman liquids and either using the powder to add flavor and electrolytes to a vodka tonic, or just chugging Pedialyte as a chaser to a shot of Jack Daniels. It would seem this approach is all about efficiency — both allowing you to get a buzz and preventing that buzz from ballooning into a hangover.
Wrong again, however. “Pedialyte products are formulated with specific amounts of sugar and electrolytes per volume of fluid for optimal rehydration, so we don’t recommend mixing any liquid — alcohol or otherwise — with our liquid,” Williams says. As for dumping powdered Pedialyte into a shot of booze, the same principle of snorting it applies: “The powder packs are formulated to work with the indicated amount of water,” Williams says.
Anyone over the age of 27 knows the schtick of drinking water throughout a night of drinking. That is, have a beer, have a water, tell everyone about it, complain about getting older, etc. Pedialyte, however, doesn’t work the same way. “When you drink it is up to personal preference,” says Ryan. In other words, whether you drink Pedialyte before, after or during your bender doesn’t much matter. It’s mostly just important that you do so without the aid of your butthole.