“My parents had me drink Sprite pretty much anytime I had a headache, chest pain—mostly stomach aches. I remember just drinking Sprite and sleeping more than going to the doctor… growing up. So usually stomach pain or headaches, things like that.”
Background Info: The informant is a close friend of mine in his early 20s. He’s lived in Long Beach, California his entire life and his parents are from St. Louis, Missouri and Brooklyn, New York. He is the youngest of three children.
Context: The informant cannot recall ever drinking Pepto Bismol when he was sick as a child—instead, his parents would give him Sprite to drink when he stayed home from school. He does not know the origin of this treatment but speculates that Sprite was the drink of choice because it’s carbonated. He recalls that his mother never bought soda for the house, so the only time A drank Sprite was at restaurants or when he was feeling ill. He does not drink Sprite when he’s sick now.
Thoughts: This is a pretty familiar folk remedy to me, except the drink of choice in my family was Sprite’s competitor 7 Up. I’ve also heard of alternate drinks, including ginger ale, coke, and other Sprite derivatives. Clearly, the carbonation is common ground between the different drinks, probably out of a rationale that the bubbly liquid has some sort of advantage over flat water or juice. Sprite also has a relatively mild citrus flavor, so it might be easier to get children to stay hydrated by drinking that instead of water. Lastly, soda is something of a special drink—A was not allowed to drink soda, so this might have been his parents’ way of turning something negative (being sick) into a positive experience (drinking something reserved for special occasions). This would also explain why the remedy isn’t practiced much past childhood, the same way that adults don’t ask for people to “kiss their boo-boos” better.