Caffeine is now a lifestyle. No longer restricted to tea, coffee, soda and energy drinks, today’s youth can get their fix through the skin and debate the experience online.
Internet organizations and youth specialty shops aid buzz-happy college students in finding alternative caffeine products and offering advice for members of the caffeine counterculture movement.
Instead of drinking coffee, one can opt for caffeine based body care products. Web sites like thinkgeek.com say that absorbing caffeinated lotions and gels through the skin boosts energy quicker than ingesting coffee.
According to Washington University’s caffeine webpage, a person must wait 15 minutes after drinking caffeine before feeling a buzz. ThinkGeek.com said Octane, an energy body gel they sell for $11.99, works in 30 seconds.
Despite such advertisements, Mills women who have tried caffeinated body products reported no changes in their energy levels.
Sophomore Loke Davis tried Skin Food: Coffee Body Scrub. Davis said she has a low tolerance of caffeine and cannot sleep if she drinks half a cup of coffee, yet she could handle the coffee soap.
“It didn’t do a thing for me,” she said. “I felt the same.”
Sophomore Lily Ann Page uses Mocha Latte Lip Balm by Ganache for Lips, a product made of Scharffen Berger chocolate and coffee. But Page said that the balm is better for the taste than energy.
“I doubt that I’m energized,” she said. “If so, it’s only from being excited about having a chocolatey smacker again.”
Mocha Latte Lip Balms are available for $3.95 at web sites like Kate’s Caring Gifts and $4 at Amazon.com.
Robert Bohannon will simplify breakfast once he finds a seller for his coffee and pastry hybrid: the Buzz Donut.
According to Jeanna Bryner’s article for Live Science, Bohannon’s donut packs two cups of coffee’s worth of caffeine, yet keeps the taste of a regular donut.
While she said the added coffee is not harmful in itself, Bryner warns potential eaters away from donuts. She says donuts are high in fat and sugars, so drinking plain coffee with a healthy breakfast would be a better option.
The degree of healthiness depends on the form of coffee used.
Bryner’s article says that the Buzz Donut would have 50-100 mg of caffeine, 200 calories and 12g of fat. The Grande Starbucks Latte has 116mg of caffeine, 260 calories and 14g of fat, according to the company nutritional chart.
Along with donuts, caffeinated candies are available. The Mills Tea Shop occasionally sells Turbo Truffles, chocolate covered energy mints; and ThinkGeek.com sells products like Foosh Energy Mints and Jolt Gum.
Foosh Energy Mints are sugar-free peppermints that pack 100 mg of caffeine per pill and are sold in a tin package for $3.49.
Jolt Gum is spearmint flavored gum available for $2.29. Each piece contains 45mg of caffeine, which the site says is the same as a can of Coke.
Davis has tried the Turbo Truffles but said the energy came at a price.
“They work, but – yuck – they taste like chalk,” she said.
Products are not the only option for caffeine addicts on-line. Many sites also offer free advice and forums related to the addiction.
The Energy Fiends Web site reviews of popular caffeinated products and ranks them by caffeine content. Energy Fiends also provides updates on caffeine related news such as rises in Starbucks’ coffee prices.
Discussion boards question caffeine myths, and members post their experiences on the subject.
For instance, when a man died from drinking two VPX Redline energy drinks despite the warning to only drink 4 ounces within 24 hours, members tested police findings.
Matt Youngblood, an anonymous member of the board, posted a message saying that he drank an entire four-pack of Redline and faced little side effects.
“I eventually lasted 35 hours awake on this stuff, during which I felt mentally. fine and only noticed a slight pain in my joints from the lack of sleep,” he said in his post.
Other discussion board members researched the ingredients to find any potentially fatal product mixings. They successfully deduced that Redline contained 250mg of caffeine per eight ounces of drink months before the company revealed the caffeine content.
The site also runs the Death by Caffeine generator. A person enters their weight and favorite caffeine product, and then the generator posts how much the person must consume before causing caffeine poisoning.
According to the generator, a 125 pound girl must drink 73.55 Starbucks Grande Lattes before she would die.
The Washington University Web site said that a person must consume 10g of caffeine before dying of caffeine poisoning, and Energy Fiends’ site said that it is almost impossible to reach a fatal amount.
“After one gram, you’ll be a sad panda. If you manage to even challenge the number, you’ll be a schizophrenic, crazed panda, or a passed out panda,” it read.
According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine is the nation’s drug of choice with nine out of every ten Americans consuming caffeine daily.
The clinic’s Web site says that consuming over 500mg of caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, increased heart rate and muscle tremors. Using alternative caffeine products could cause people to reach their caffeine limits without realizing it.
Web sites based on caffeine products offer services to curb overdose.
The Energy Fiend site offers a printable worksheet where visitors can monitor their caffeine intake by adding up the caffeine content of all products consumed.
While she personally abstains from caffeine, Freshwoman Maya Gilbert said that alternative caffeine products are not good or bad but dependent on the individual.
“I think asking these questions about the subject in such binary terms will produce a lot of unnecessary response,” she said. “If you drink, bathe with, or suck on caffeine, know how it acts in your body and how it may harm or do good for you.”