The health potion has been a constant element in role-playing games since pretty much forever, and if there was anything from RPGs that could exist in real life, they'd be what I want. Forget flying dragons—can you imagine the mess they'd make?— and definitely forget helpful fairies shouting, "Hey listen," all the time. You can even keep your magic spatial-physics-defying pockets that can somehow carry an entire truck's worth of stuff without weighing you down even a little bit. I just love the idea that no matter how stabbed and clawed and broken down and on death's door you might be, you could just drink a bottle of health potion and BOOM, instantly back to perfect health. Sure, sometimes you have to drink a few of them. But as an alternative to the old-fashioned way, waiting weeks or months for your body to eventually stitch itself back together, it's irresistible.
And so, whenever a product appears on the market that claims to be such a thing, I notice. Skeptically, for sure. I mean, I'm not going to jump off the roof of my house and then drink one—well, not again. Which is why when I started seeing the Neuro line of "nutrional supplement drinks" on shelves, I was more than willing to buy a few and get all scientific method on them. Worst case scenario, I'm out a couple of bucks and my burps taste like fruity vitamin. Best case scenario: powers.
There are nine different varieties in the line, each claiming to boost a specific brain or body function. The store near me only carried five of them, though, so I took what I could get, figuring I would probably need to search for the secret shop to get the rest. The flavors I tried were Sun, Bliss, Trim, Sonic, and Sleep. I mean come on, they even sound like magic potions. How could they do anything but work perfectly?
As this is the very same power source used by Superman, the Mars rover, and the calculator on which I used to type 5318008 and giggle in the third grade, my expectations were high. What the drink actually does, however, is contain a high dosage of Vitamin D, a.k.a. the Sunshine Vitamin, since it's normally produced in the body from exposure to sunlight. It supposedly helps your bone density, as well as boosting your immune system—in theory, one of the reasons people are more susceptible to the flu in winter is because there's less sunlight. The research is still ongoing on all of that, though, so who knows.
The drink tastes somewhat coconutty, and actually not half bad. It claims, in big ol' letters on the bottle, not to contain any artificial colors or flavors, which I suppose is technically true, as crystalline fructose, sucralose, and malic acid are all things that, uh, exist. The drink also contains unnamed "natural flavors," so there you go, it's right there in the ingredients.
After drinking it, I felt... slightly less thirsty. And so it was time to move on to the next flavor.
This one claims to make you happy, or rather, "Promote happiness and eliminate stress without affecting your energy levels." I'm all for the promotion of happiness. I think happiness is great, and should be promoted often. And really, with the drink looking the way it does, it had better promote something. It's a thin, white, kinda milky-looking substance. Like a mayo soda.
It contains a cocktail of nutritional supplements, mainly phosphatidylserine, a stress-reducer which can be derived from either soybeans or cow brains and would be worth 33 points in Words With Friends in only the board were big enough; L-theanine, an amino acid normally found in green tea; and chamomile, which is also normally tea. The idea is that the combination of these guys will focus you up, chill you out, and generally make you ready to face the day. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration says, "or not, we're not really sure yet, don't count on it."
I drank a bottle in the morning. I am not what one would call a "morning person." At the start of the day, I'm just a great big ball of hate. I hate waking up early. I hate the subway and everyone on it. Not only that, but I had an assignment due that afternoon with a bunch of work left to do. So we were looking at the perfect situation in which to test the claims this potion was making.
The drink tasted like weird diet soda, a vaguely citrus, carbonated-Splenda kind of a deal, with a slightly thicker texture than I normally prefer in my drinks. It wasn't gross, exactly, but it wasn't climbing up the ranks of my favorite beverages either. It would all be worth it if the drink actually did any of the things it claimed to. But as to that, all I can say is: I don't know, maybe? I did find myself in a fairly good mindset throughout most of the morning. At the same time, it was a nice day and I didn't really have anyone hassling me until much later on, so who knows how much of a factor the drink was. I thought about trying it out again the next day, being much more scientific about the whole process, but then I looked at the bottle again and thought, "Nah, I don't really want to drink that again."
Neuro Trim & Neuro Sleep
I'm lumping these two together because they both tasted about the same to me—sweet and slightly fruity—and both inspired an equally "meh" reaction as to whether they actually worked or not. The Trim, in addition to Neuro's standard base formula of water, crystalline fructose, and "natural flavors," contains a whole bunch of fiber, the idea being that it absorbs fluids in your gut and expands, filling you up so you're not as hungry. Fiber also promotes "better digestive health," which is marketing-speak for "it'll help you poop."
The Sleep contains L-theanine, the same tea-derived amino acid as in the Bliss, which in some experiments was shown to help reduce stress; melatonin, the same hormone your own body produces when it's sleepytime; and 5-hydroxytryptophan, another amino acid which supposedly helps to nudge the body along to bed. Again, I'm saying "supposedly" here, because the research is still in progress. And the makers of this thing are pretty savvy about that, too, in that they're very careful with their phrasing on the bottle: there are a whole lot of "mays" in their descriptions. Like, I "may" try these again at a later date.
I wanted health potions. What I got were low-calorie energy drinks with unremarkable flavors, fluid delivery systems for vitamin supplements whose efficacy were still under question. This particular line of drinks had one last opportunity to prove itself: the Sonic.
The Sonic claims to "provide mental energy," "support focus and concentration," and "support memory." How any of this translates to Sonic, "of or pertaining to sound," is beyond me, but perhaps after trying the drink, it would make more sense. The magic ingredients in this one were pretty much the exact same chemicals from the Bliss, plus taurine and caffeine for energy. It tasted like a weakly-mixed Shirley Temple.
With this one, I had the best opportunity to really put its claims to the test, as I was on my way to a trivia game. o my focus and concentration needed some support, and my memory could definitely use the boost—I've got a lot of useless junk stored in the old brain, the trick is being able to find it all when needed. And sure enough, my team blasted through the first round. Things were looking pretty good that, if not a health potion, I may have found a working brain potion at least.
The General Slocum was a steamboat operating in the New York area at the end of the 19th century. In June 1904, it caught fire and sank in the East River with over a thousand people on board, the worst disaster in New York City history prior to September 2001. This disaster is commemorated on several monuments throughout the city, including a plaque at the waterfront near Astoria Park, around which I used to run practically every weekend. I've passed this plaque dozens of times. I knew the name of this stupid boat.
And then the question came up, and my Neuro Sonic-enhanced brain produced: durrr. A Civil War general? My teammates had nothing. I put down "Ulysses Grant" as our answer.
And I was wrong.
Neuro Sonic does nothing. Nothing!
The Sun, though, was kinda tasty.
Have you tried the Neuro drinks? What do you think of them?