Re: Spotting a potential problem

“No good can come of this.”

The Brain, from Pinky and The Brain


Last week I was at work and in a rare idle moment, I checked the internet on my phone. The first thing I encountered was a link to an article about a product that was approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Have you heard of Palcohol? It’s an interesting product, it’s powdered alcohol. Just add water and poof, instant margarita.



a margarita, photo By John Sullivan, courtesy of P.D.

Even after seven years it always seems so surreal when I see something and the first thing I think is, This concerns me as a parent. Now this isn’t just the prudish paranoia of an admitted alcoholic, so bear with me.

Of course given, the spectrum of people who work at restaurants, when I announced this to my coworkers the first question asked was “Can you snort it?” The answer to this was broadly yes, but the company has taken a precaution to make this unfeasible.

“We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don’t do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product. To take precautions against this action, we’ve added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way.” -Palcohol website

Well thank goodness for sane thinking, however, I am not sure if anyone here has ever attended a keg party; this is the type of thing that seems like the makings of a wager between a couple of overly enthusiastic attendees of such an event that maybe are around the age of twenty something, give or take. This wasn’t the cause for my concern though.

A friend of mine had commented on the link about teenagers not needing better way of smuggling alcohol. Wait, but, teenagers aren’t allowed to buy alcohol. Having been a teenager I do recall it being no great feat to obtain it regardless of legality. Now with this product, instead of carrying bulky cans and bottles in backpacks and purses they can have little envelopes of powder tucked into wallets or socks or just pockets. A bottle of water at a movie theater may be a bit pricey but, now it may seem worth it to some. Still, this isn’t what worried me about this.

No, the thing that troubled me was: If you can add it with water, or your favorite mixer, can you add it to some unsuspecting persons already alcoholic drink. Could you make it so someone doesn’t know how much they’ve really had to drink?  It would seem to be an ideal, legal to obtain way of making a cocktail more potent. Could this product become the next big date rape drug? Alcohol is already pretty big in this department already, does it need to be worse. This is what worries me as a parent. Now I know my daughter has a long way to go before she might be in this potential situation, but as a father this was my knee jerk reaction.

I am in no way saying that Lipsmark, the company that owns Palcohol should be denied the ability to market or distribute it. As a long time worker the food and beverage industry I can see potential uses for this product. Smaller restaurants that would want to offer cocktails but don’t have the space or budget to install a full bar could easily benefit from it. It would also be useful, as their website says was part of the inspiration for its creation, to people going camping or partaking in other activities where packing extra weight and volume would be problematic. Ultimately I have no problems with people of legal age enjoying whatever they fancy in an appropriate environment.

I just thought I would point out the problems that might come up, and things that we parents might want to know about when children leave the house on their own. It is up to us, as always to talk to our kids and let them know about the dangers of not just drugs and alcohol abuse, but the ways that others might put them to abusive uses towards them.

As of the writing of this article Palcohol has lost its approval with the  Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau due to a labeling discrepancy and, is being resubmitted to the agency. Even with this approval the company would still have other legal obstacles to overcome before it could be sold.

Anyway that’s just something I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday.

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6 thoughts on “Re: Spotting a potential problem

  1. It just seems like such a weird invention. I read about this last week; apparently one of advertising tag lines was that you could sprinkle it on your food. I’m all for a coq au vin, but this is ridiculous.

    • First let me thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment commenting.

      I’ve seen mention of using Palcohol as a food additive. As a professional cook I’d like to point out that normally when adding wine or liquor to flavor a dish it is reduced, evaporating off most of the alcohol, sprinkling a powder over food would not have the same effect and unless it was first reconstituted and then reduced it would still be an intoxicant. They do mention this on the Palcohol website briefly, including a warning not to serve such food to minors.

  2. I think the product is an overall bad idea. People are going to snort it, if nothing else than for the novelty of it. I recall something about people pouring vodka in their eyes a few years back, its going be the same thing. Adding powder mass to the product is not going to make people not do it.
    As for the date rape, I can see people adding it to normal alcohol, which would sure do it. Also we don’t know the side effects, do we? What about black outs and alcohol poisoning.
    I am not a parent, but I get your worries, this worries me as a person. I am not alarmist and am generally lay back, but I really really think this powder thing is going to cause more problems than it’s worth

    • This is the first I heard of “eyeballing” vodka, wow that apparently was a thing for a short while at least in the media if nothing else. Yes people are highly likely to try some very stupid things for novelty or for a buzz. Sexual assault is something that should concern everyone, as is potential for alchohol poisoning, especially if it can happen from someone doctoring drinks. As for side effects, my ongoing look into this has turned up that similar products already exist in The Netherlands, Germany, and Japan. In Japan powdered alcohol has been available since the seventies, so I would suppose side effects would be minimal, or so we can hope.I am not one to dictate what a consenting adult does to themselves; drugs and alcohol (fine distinction there) can cause problems no matter what form they are in, which is why knowing about them and educating kids to be responsible about them is so important.

      Thanks for your comments on this. It’s good to hear from you as always.

      • I didn’t know it had been a thing since the 70s, I only learned about it recently.
        With everything it’s about education and a healthy social structure. I think so many things could be avoided through people caring about others just a little bit more, but that’s neither here nor there.
        In the end people will do what they want. All you can do is teach them what is right and hope that is what they want to do.
        It is always a pleasure, I love your blog. Your topic are thought provoking and your writing is real.

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