Two days ago all of the Red Bull in Hong Kong was pulled from the shelves after it was announced that trace amounts of cocaine had been found in the “energy” drink. This makes me laugh. Because of course what has really happened is now Red Bull is THE most sought after convenience store commodity. [I am sure that eventually it will be “uncovered” that Red Bull actually leaked the information…]
I remember when I first started hearing about Red Bull, and it’s subsequent rise to popularity as a mixer for really obnoxious co-ed cocktails. It tastes like shit and makes me burp – so I am not a fan. That aside… I was interested in the urban legend that it contained bull semen… Taurine is apparently present in both bull semen and bull urine (yummy!) but of course, let us be serious for a moment – it is not the source of the taurine used in this beverage. [Really, do you think this company has an entire department of people dedicated to bovine pleasure-providing? I doubt it.] It takes it’s name from the Latin taurus because it was first discovered in ox bile. Other than that it seems to be an enzyme that has some significant functions, though none of which seem to have to do with energy as I can tell. The science of all those energy drinks is suspect in my opinion anyhow.
When I moved to Asia in 2005 I was introduced to Thai Red Bull [Krating Daeng]. This was not the Red Bull I had experienced in California. It still tasted like shit (like Sweet Tarts and Sprite somehow blended together… yuck) but it seemed to have a little more of a kick. When you go to Thailand and hit the beaches the drinks are called ‘buckets.’ This is because they actually are served in a bucket. Into the bucket goes a fifth of the liquor of your choice (Thai Sangsom – rumored to contain speed is generally the most popular), a can of Coke, and a bottle or two of Thai Red Bull. Then you walk away with your bucket and a straw. Good times.
I tried to bring Thai Red Bull back to Hong Kong and it was confiscated. So, maybe the Kong just has an issue with Red Bull in general. Who knows. [Oddly, I was able to bring it home to the States with no problem.] For sure the Thai stuff seems to work better than the stuff in a can (it even looks more pharmaceutical in those little bottles.)
Really, I am not sure what all the fuss is about – I mean where do people think Coca-Cola got it’s name? We have a long history of fascination with “energy” enhancing products. Just ask Sherlock Holmes, or anyone who has studied medicinal/dental history, or anthropologists who work with native peoples of South America… Those coca leaves got the Inca the reputation of the most fleet footed messengers on the continent if not the planet. Chasquis could cover up to 240 km a day… in the Andes. I am thinking they had a little somp’in somp’in to keep them going, if you get my meaning. My dad used to give my step-brother a six pack of Jolt Cola (remember that stuff?) to get him to clean his room. The kid was ten. And by the way, it worked a treat.
Our obsession with chemical means to enhance our energy, performance, mood… whatever, has gone through all sorts of transformations, mutations and justifications. All this stuff is marketed to deal with mental and physical fatigue. As I sit here drinking a gigantic cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, I get it. I like how I feel after coffee better than how I feel before it. Every time. Sleep is sooooooo last millennium. Get with the program.
And so, here is hoping that the 852 will release the beast and put Red Bull back on the shelves before Saturday when I will be attending the most kick-ass party I have ever heard of: A 7-11 Crawl. When I heard that this was how a friend of mine was celebrating her departure from Hong Kong I thought I might have died and gone to heaven. We will be going from 7-11 to 7-11 (there are more than 850 of my beloved convenience stores in Hong Kong) across Central and Western Hong Kong as a pub crawl. Best. Idea. Ever.