Subject: Folk Medicine. EmergenC and ice cream.
“Interviewer: So… I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately and like I feel like a cold might be coming on. Do you have any recommendations for which to proto push off this impending illness?
Interviewee: Ice cream and EmergenC… It totally keeps you from getting sick though. When you were in your junior year and I forced, well, uh, convinced you to take it every night before you went to sleep, you did not get sick and everybody else was. It’s true. And it’s more- it works better if you take it at night because you’re- it gives more time for your cells to absorb it.
Interviewer: That’s not how the body works…?
Interviewee: Yes! Because you’re- you’re not putting any more food in so you’re not like, your cells can take all the nutrients out of it. It’ll keep you healthy.”
Background Info: C. Taylor grew up in Southern California. She had a close relationship with her mother and paternal grandmother who both believed in the natural healing powers of alternative medicines. C. Taylor has worked at a chiropractor’s office and still receives frequent adjustments. She currently lives in San Clemente, CA with her husband and one daughter.
Context: This story was shared over dinner with my mother and father. While she initially insisted she did not know any folklore, I prompted her with the hypothetical situation included above and received the answer I expected since this is how she treated all my colds growing up. While I had experienced her treatments, I had never asked her about her reasoning behind giving them. She started out using EmergenC in her adult life, but as a child, was forced to drink orange juice by her grandmother to keep from getting sick and to help fight off a cold once it had caught on.
Analysis: Vitamin C is a popular form of alternative medicine, used more in preventing illness than treating it. As the recipient of EmergenC in this story, I can say that while I did not get sick often while drinking it at home, since moving to college I have not continued drinking it and have only gotten sick twice. I think it is more likely that I am not very susceptible to illness in the first place, but perhaps the beverage did provide my system with the extra push it needed to make it through high school. However, when I return home, I always ask for a glass of EmergenC before I go to bed since, to me, it now carries connotations of home and the comforting feelings of being loved and cared for. I would venture to guess that maintaining the tradition of using vitamin C from her grandparents gives my mother a connection to the women who cared for her.
Health is a subject that scares many people since, when we are healthy, we often take it for granted and good health can be stripped from us at any second. It, therefore, makes sense that people turn to readily available products like EmergenC to practice having control over their health (also, orange juice, Vitamin C gummies, or immunity-boosting teas). Keeping the family healthy is of increased importance which manifests in the ritual of taking EmergenC every evening. It helps sooth anxieties of getting others sick by bringing a virus into the house and anxieties of ourselves losing our own good health. The idea of comforting oneself through these self-administered remedies is supported by my mom citing ice cream as having healing properties. Ice cream is satisfying and so when someone feels their worst physically, it makes sense that they would turn to a food that brings them happiness.