energy drinks

Bulletproof Coffee Is Not for the Faint of Heart

It’s mid-morning on a busy day when hunger pangs usually set in and lunch is still but a distant dot on the horizon. But today is different. I’m strangely fortified with a feeling of satiety. I’m brimming with purposeful energy and my conscious brain has a sharp sheen, keeping me focused. What’s more is that I ate no discernible solid for breakfast. Rather, a veritable slick of strong coffee lathered with a heaped tablespoon of butter—the kind of breakfast that Withnail might have cobbled together with leftovers after a big night.

This was premeditated, though. I had drunk a mug full of bulletproof coffee (also known as butter coffee), an old world tradition that has re-emerged as a potent performance enhancer. The term was coined by American health guru Dave Asprey, who has harnessed his experience of drinking yak tea with butter at 18,000 feet in Tibet (it gave him astounding energy levels) into this turbo coffee. Mingma Tseri Sherpa, one of the world’s leading mountaineers and 19-time Everest summiter, tells me, “We often drink tea with yak butter and salt. It’s good for our health and we mostly drink it during winter. It’s very common fuel for sherpas and climbing.”

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Energy drinks and the glorification of violent masculinity.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

Toban B. sent in some photographs and a discussion of how energy drinks are gendered.

Energy drinks are already gendered to begin with in a couple of different ways at least: (1) they are marketed as hydration for athletes and sports is a masculine arena and (2) women aren’t usually encouraged to consume “extra” calories. But, in addition to being seen as somehow for men, Toban shows how a particularly violent and aggressive kind of masculinity is reproduced in the marketing, even across different companies.

Monster energy drinks include slashes on the packaging that look like a vicious scratch and what appears to be a crosshair and bullet holes (bad aim?):

Notice that the “flavor” in the picture above is “Sniper.”  Toban notes that “Assault” and “M-80″ are also flavors:

The can for the Assault-flavored drink also features a camouflage design, invoking militarism. They call their “shooters” “Hitman” (photo above).

Both Monster and Guru link their product directly to (extreme) sports:

Full Throttle and Amp (“Overdrive”) go for a connection to aggressive driving:

Full Throttle energy drinks make it explicit with the tagline, “Let Your Man Out.”

Toban notes that it’s ironic that a lot of these products are marketed as health drinks when, in fact, internalizing an aggressive form of masculinity is associated with taking health risks (e.g., refusing to wear seat belts or hard hats, drinking hard). “In any case,” Toban concludes, “this marketing normalizes and makes light of a lot of aggression and danger that we should be opposing.” And which, I will add, isn’t good for men or women.

See also our post with hilarious fake commercials making fun of energy drinks and hypermasculinity.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.