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Editorial | Powdered alcohol has potential to change college drinking scene

By Editorial Board
On April 28, 2014

"Let's talk about the elephant in the room...snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you'll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly."

This was a message from Palcohol's creators that appeared on the product's website earlier this month. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) initially approved the product on April 8, but that approval was deemed an error just 13 days later. According to Palcohol reps, "This doesn't mean that Palcohol isn't approved, it just means that these labels aren't approved. We will re-submit labels."

With all the hype surrounding this new adult beverage (powder?), there seems to be a lot of money to be made and lots of incentive for Palcohol creators to get this thing on the shelves - fast.

Palcohol is essentially alcoholic powder. Just add water, stir or shake and enjoy with friends - if you're 21 of course. Consumers can choose from Powderitas, Lemon Drops, Mojitos and Cosmopolitans. The pouch contains 100 ml of powder and is about 51 to 58 percent alcohol by weight or compatible to one standard mixed drink.

The makers of Palcohol have not disclosed their process for making powered alcohol and have made it clear they do not intend to become a public company any time soon.

Though the TTB still hasn't approved Palcohol labels, it is likely that of-age consumers will be able to purchase pouches of Palcohol by the end of 2014. With this in mind, the editorial board of The Miami Student wonders how this product will be used: if it will be a fad or if it will actually have a lasting effect on the way people consume alcohol.

A general concern we did have is the safety of the powder. Similar to other critics, we can see Palcohol becoming something people snort rather than drink as a liquid, like it is intended. When snorted, the alcohol in the powder is almost instantly absorbed and the effects are, well, immediate intoxication. Frankly, we can see a lot of college students using this powdered alcohol to get drunker faster and that is concerning. Remember our editorial piece on Drunkorexia? We think Palcohol will appeal to people who want to get drunk and consume as little calories as possible. A pouch of powdered alcohol is 80 calories - and if you make the choice to snort it or mix it with water - that's comparable to something like a Skinny Girl cocktail or a vodka soda, which are definitely appealing to calorie counting students. But like we discussed in the Drunkorexia editorial, your health and safety must be your top priority when and if you consume alcohol of any kind. Needless to say, snorting Palcohol isn't good for your brain or your nostrils. The creators of Palcohol are trying to deter consumers from snorting their product. They said, "We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don't do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product." They add, "To take precautions against this action, we've added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way."

One of the biggest selling points for Palcohol is its discreteness and portability. Palcohol can be easily stored in a purse or even pant pocket - something you really can't do with liquid alcohol. If a football fan wants to have a couple of drinks, he can whip out his Palcohol pouch and add it to a water bottle, just like you would with Crystal Light. For this reason, we see Palcohol as being very convenient for consumers that like to drink on the go without lugging around glass bottles or tin flasks.

But on the contrary, individuals under 21-years-old could use this to their advantage. Though you must be 21 to purchase Palcohol, it can be easily transferred to underage individuals who can then take the pouch to the bars where they could mix it with water without anyone knowing.

This is not to say underage students don't scheme enough as it is, but Palcohol will make it easier to sneak the substance into a bar or restaurant if you're not of age.

In the end, it is hard to tell if Palcohol is revolutionary or just a fad. We think the concept is unique and will definitely be a topic of conversation for quite some time. But whether the product will stick around and have a lasting effect on the way people consume alcohol is something we can't be certain about until it is actually made available for purchase. One thing we know for certain is that sprinkling Palcohol on your food is just bizarre.

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