Have you seen that Gatorade commercial, the one that’s the history of Gatorade? Where they have the two old University of Florida scientists talking about how they invented this revolutionary nutrient-replacing athlete drink, and then one of them drawls, “Naturally we called it Gatoraaaade.” I don’t know if it’s that effective of a sales pitch, because all it makes me do is think of what would have happened if another major university had invented the drink.
Wolverineade – Big seller to X-Men and Red Dawn fans.
Fighting Irishade – They already have it, and it’s called beer.
Spartanade – “I THINK THEY’RE THIRSTY, LADS!”
Trojanade - ”Is It In You?
Having been less than athletic in my childhood, my first real encounter with Gatorade came last year at the Rose Bowl. On the night before the six mile Rose Parade and subsequent football game, the band director issued two bottles of Gatorade to everyone in the band and ordered us to drink them before bed.
“You’ll be working a lot tomorrow,” he shouted to us as the colorful drinks were distributed. “Sweating. This will keep you going, I promise. It’s science.”
This endorsement was coming from a doctor, so I took it pretty seriously. A doctor of music, granted, but a doctor nonetheless – while I wouldn’t consult him for a prostate exam, I’m willing to believe that he did his homework on Gatorade before spending four figures to buy enough of it 200 people two times over.
It was tasty, and as I drank it I couldn’t help but imagine it getting into my bloodstream and making it somehow better. Sure enough, the following day I made it through the whole parade and game with no problem – that might be due to the fact that walking six miles and then standing for a few hours isn’t an especially taxing activity, but I choose to credit Gatorade with my success.
Since quitting soft drinks six months ago, I’ve sticking mainly to water as a beverage because I’m more willing to deprive myself of high fructose corn syrup than I am to buy a pair of gym shorts. For most of that time, my go-to logic was that if a drink had flavor, it was probably there thanks to roughly the same number of chemicals as there are in the stuff I spray on ant infestations around the house.
During the more sweltering part of the late summer, though, Gatorade and I bumped into each other again when my friends picked a bunch up to stay hydrated through a 90 degree band practice. It dawned on me that Gatorade was refreshing, flavorful, and basically clinically proven to keep you from dying* - being as I’m a huge fan of refreshment, flavor, and life, I picked up several bottles as well and began my flirtation with becoming a regular Gatorade drinker.
*As opposed to soft drinks, most of which, I hear, are clinically proven to make you die.
It’s a stupid thing, drinking Gatorade casually as a beverage, rather than for its nutritional value – this is probably why you don’t see it served in a lot of restaurants. It’s not something you get at a coffee shop. Gatorade is a specialized tool for athletes – I’ve always seen drinking Gatorade just for the taste as akin to wearing a cup all the time because you like what it does to your inseam.
So in order to keep from being what I’d always relentlessly mocked, I found myself starting to create a false need for Gatorade in my life.
“Oh, man, Truman, you were sweating a little bit on the bike ride home today. You should probably hit up 7-11 and get some Gatorade. No, water won’t cut it. Dehydration is serious business.”
“Damn, man, you walked up three flights of stairs! Better go grab a Gatorade – electrolytes don’t just grow on trees, you know.”
“Wow, looks like it’s going to get up to 70 degrees next week. I’d better crack open a preemptive Gatorade. Better safe than sorry.”
My cousin, who is nine years clean and sober, once told me that people don’t really kick addictions so much as they just find new ones. Gatorade, I knew deep inside my very well hydrated conscious, was just my way of finding excuses to drink something sweet on a regular basis again.
What shocked me back to reality was when I was at 7-11 stocking up and spotted Gatorade G2, the low calorie calorie replacement drink. Apparently I wasn’t the only person drinking Gatorade recreationally, and the fine folks in charge of the company had seen fit to respond to complaints from fat Gatorade fans, concerned about how many calories the drink was replenishing, by releasing a new version with diminished nutritional value for sedentary people who just want to drink expensive fruit punch. At that point they may as well just call it ‘Brokenade.’
I’m off Gatorade now and looking to find some new addiction to fill the gap soft drinks left in my life. I’ve been trying real hard to make it something constructive, like getting better at cooking or seeing how many fresh vegetables I can eat in one sitting, but one of my friends just loaned me Halo: Reach and I feel like that’s going to be it for the time being.
Truman Capps didn’t write about a scenario where Oregon State University scientists invented Gatorade, because that would be a far too easy joke to make.