Warning: These Potato Chips Contain Caffeine

Bottoms up: you never know where you’ll be able to get your next caffeine fix. Forget about designer coffee and helping the flailing Starbucks chain spring back to life (just last week articles and postings for the Wall Street Journal commented on whether or not its founding father Howard Schultz could be its saving grace). Schultz has more competition today than just fellow coffee shops selling overpriced lattes. He may be banking on America’s continual need for caffeinated beverages morning, noon, and night… but now it’s not just about coffee. Nor is it about tea and dark chocolate.

It’s about potato chips, lip balm, mints, sunflower seeds, and soap.

I think we were all a bit puzzled by the emergence of caffeinated
water a few years back. Then came the energy drinks powered by
stimulating organic ingredients (not just caffeine) that flooded the
market and seem to have established themselves as perennial hits. And
now we have products you’d never think about as containing caffeine,
some of which get absorbed through the skin. This new trend in jolting
everyday products was recently covered by The Washington Post, and I’m
glad to see that the article takes a balanced approach as to what this
all means.

Yes, coffee can be a very good thing for health and vitality. It can
boost a mood and a workout. It may lower the risk for certain diseases,
from diabetes to depression. But consume too much and you can put
yourself at risk for other problems, such as heart arrhythmias and
insomnia.

Most people know, however, their limits to caffeine. When
they start feeling negative symptoms they cut back. (If you want to see
how much you know about caffeine, you can take a quiz here on the
National Sleep Foundation’s site. Good luck.)

One piece of advice I
tell people is that if they are having trouble falling asleep at night,
2 p.m. is a good cut-off time for the daily buzz. Everyone responds a
bit differently to caffeine, so you have to tune in to your own body’s
reaction and track when—and when you should not—have your last fill for
the day.

I think all this hubbub about trendy caffeinated products is
amusing. At the end of the day, it’s all about money. Caffeine may
always be hip—especially in this country where we overwork ourselves
and feel the need to find fun, new ways to get a lift. Imagine watching
the Super Bowl with a beer in one hand and a bowl of caffeinated potato
chips in the other. Just about the same as a Red Bull and vodka
(although I won’t go into the details of why this isn’t a good, healthy
choice—mixing a stimulant and depressant such as alcohol is a no-no).

I can’t wait to see how far people can take this. Soon enough, we’ll
have caffeinated clothing and apparel. Giving all coffee shops a run
for their money. 

And keeping the sleep docs like me in business.