Tag Archives: Stomach Ache

Folk Remedies: Sprite

Main Piece:

“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.



“So this is something that we actually took from “Dora the Explorer” in my house. There is an episode, where, I think we were watching because it was when my brothers were younger and they would watch it. And my mom would watch with us. So we were watching one day, and I think they were making chocolate. Dora and her grandmother.

And so they sang the chocolate song.

‘Bate, bate, chocolatè

Mix that cho-co-late, chocolatè

Bate, bate, chocolatè!’

So we heard that, and I think maybe my mom had heard it before. Like I think it is a thing Mexican culture, I don’t know though. Because I remember once telling someone about it who was Mexican and he knew a version of it. But that was the first time me and my brothers heard it.

But anyways, so in the show they sang it to make chocolate. Like stir it together, or something. But for us, after that, my mom would rub our bellies when we had a stomach ache and sing it to us. She would like rub it in a circle, and after we would feel better.

So then when I would get stomach aches after I went to college, I would have my boyfriend, who is white, sing the song to me and rub my stomach. Which of course he then was mad and wanted me to do the same to him when he got stomach aches. So now whenever we’re piggies and eat too much, we rub eachother’s stomachs and sing the song. “Can you bate me?” It’s pretty gross.”


This is like a mix of folk music and folk medicine. There seems to be some Hispanic heritage or pride peeking its way into this tradition. Since Dora the Explorer is Hispanic, and she believes her mom may have known this song prior, it does feel grounded in the Hispanic culture.

It is also folk medicine in that she uses it specifically for relieving stomach aches, not for mixing chocolate like Dora does. A stomach ache is such a weird thing to cure; there are definitely some over the counter cures, but it does not surprise me that people would think of different ways to cure it. I like that she has now passed it down to her significant other. The song has taken on a whole new meaning than it was most likely originally intended for.

It is funny that this seems to be a pretty traditional song, a Google search comes with a bunch of variants (see below) that was repurposed for Dora the Explorer. It was also kind of gringo-fied, which is to say many of the other versions were more based in Spanish, but Dora seems to strip that out and replace it with English. It is an interesting, but somewhat predictable choice.

I found this other version of the “Bate” song here.


Mint or Chamomile Tea: Folk Remedy

Mint or Chamomile Tea is a folk remedy for stomach ache:

“We use mint or chamomile for stomach ache. Those are the two popular things. Some people add a little bit sugar to make it taste better. But some people like the tea without sugar because they say it’s a medicine it shouldn’t have sugar.”

Sugarless mint tea and sugarless chamomile tea is a folk remedy my informant learned at a young age in León, Guanajuato, México. It makes sense that folk remedy would be used considering the difficulty buying medicine in the impoverished conditions my informant grew up in.