I first caught word of this when Wired published this as their “Most Dangerous Object in the Office” back in December. And it must have been a slow month for them, since they’ve had all manner of insane stuff on their desks there. But more on that in a moment. As someone for whom caffeine intoxication is a fond memory, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting ways of consuming caffeine. So yes, I requested some and here we are.
The shot, no pun intended, is this: AeroShots come in individual packages that look like lip balm or lipstick, as advertised. You pull one out, pop it open, stick one end of it in your mouth and “puff in”/inhale the contents. You then get an energy boost that “dissolves in the mouth and is absorbed instantly through the digestive tract, not the lungs.” When we’re trying to review an “energy product,” there are a number of arenas in which they can win: taste, boost, price and, if all else fails, novelty. Let’s try to tackle them one by one.
[ad#longpost]After I tried this–well, tried two–one right after the other–I wondered if I was the only one having the rather violent repulsed reaction that I did, so I went and found videos of people trying this for the first time. There are several online to choose from. Here’s a safety tip–the only safety tip I have for this supposedly dangerous object–careful where you pop it open. Some of the dry contents may sprinkle out–and if you have a dog–or any other sort of animal that will eat anything and shouldn’t have caffeine–you want to do this over a sink or somewhere else. I wound up wearing some of it before I even got started. When you puff in through your mouth, basically what happens is an amount of dry powder hits your tongue. This powder, sweetened with Stevia, is supposedly lime-flavored but tastes more like ground-up lime-flavored plastic. This is probably due to the bitterness that comes with caffeine, which they didn’t really mask very well. So as far as taste goes, it’s pretty godawful.
That being said, if you’ve been around long enough, you know me: I don’t give a damn how something tastes if it delivers the goods. And yes, I did get a pretty immediate boost. However, it’s not the boost they’re describing, at least from what I can tell. Caffeine takes twenty to thirty minutes to start to work in your system–again, not a doctor nor do I play one on TV–but my understanding is your body takes time to process the caffeine and let it do its thing–hence the effectiveness of caffeine naps. You can’t get caffeine to hit you immediately. It just doesn’t work. No, the boost I felt was my body violently reacting with a “What The Hell Did You Just Ingest?” response…and the videos I’ve seen, a lot of people have that same reaction. It’s similar to the one time I tried a puff from a cigarette to see what all the fuss was about: yes, my body got a huge hit–but it was of the adrenal-rush-oh-my-God-lungs-dying variety and nothing else. But back to the AeroShot: thirty minutes later, I was tired again. After two full doses of these things.
So from my standpoint, it fails on the boost level. But again, let’s be realistic for a second and discuss reviewer biological bias: I realize that I have the caffeine tolerance of the entire country of Norway combined. This is known. And while they are correct in that one of these things contains the caffeine of a good cup of coffee (100mg)…that’s just 100mg. Please bear in mind that whether you take the thing in one big puff or not, the entire AeroShot is only 100mg according to the Supplement Facts on the back. (And yes, there’s 100% of your Vitamins B6, B12 and Niacin as well, but I’ve never been able to associate B Vitamins with any substantial boosting sort of effect personally, so let’s leave that there.) And yes, for many people 100mg of caffeine might do the trick. So let’s say the boost works for you despite the wretched flavor–let’s take a look at the cost.
If the equivalent of a cup of coffee–100mg–will do you…why wouldn’t you just have a cup of coffee? Okay, you don’t like coffee: what about a caffeinated mint? A caffeinated mint with the same amount of caffeine will run you around a U.S. quarter each. Twenty-five cents. So you don’t like mints? How about good old fashioned NoDoz? Hell, if you get a generic version of NoDoz, it’s $2 for eighty 200mg pills! As for the AeroShot? $2.99 each. So if boost is what you’re after and the price isn’t right then when it comes right down to it, what you have is…simply novel.
Yes, from a novelty perspective, it delivers the goods. I cannot deny the AeroShot people that. The design for the product is great. The packaging is great. The press pack they sent out was positively swank. But for the purchaser, after the novelty wears off, you realize you’ve spent ten times the cost of a caffeinated mint for a product that’s only “breathable” in that you breathe in to get it out of the packaging. And when you do that, the end result is…powder falls in your mouth. And if it were awesome powder–if it were the caffeinated equivalent of Fun Dip, say–that might be one thing. But, sadly, it’s not. For true energy fiends that just want to have a go at it, it’s worth trying. But for anybody who just wants to stay awake, I’m sorry, it’s not financially feasible to spend $3 for something that a generic caffeine pill could get you twice the effective dose of for about three cents. Without the atrocious taste.
P.S. Dear politicians who are concerned that this is indeed dangerous when kids get a hold of it and want to make it into a party thing: You’re idiots. You’re the same morons who want to prohibit selling really nice scotch online because illegal age kids will supposedly drink it. I have never known anyone under the age of twenty-one who would have the money to blow on a bottle of 18-year-old Macallan, much less bored enough to go to the trouble of buying it online and getting someone of age to sign for it. Have you ever known an underage drinker who plans that far ahead? Seriously. No. That kid will find some way of getting cheap beer or whisky somewhere nearer to his house. They can’t be arsed. Same thing with this: if a kid wants to mix caffeine and alcohol, they’re going to do it. And they are not going to spend $3 on a product like this to do so. Unless you are caffeine sensitive, it costs way too much money to hit dangerous levels of caffeine on this product. So come off it.
P.P.S. That all being said: caffeine is a drug, people. Know your limits with this or any other caffeine product and do NOT push it. You are ultimately responsible for what you ingest. Always err on the side of “Screw it, I’ll just go take a nap.” Not kidding. Be careful out there.