Hair of the Doc
We’ve all been there. Suddenly, the morning sun shines through your bedroom blinds with the force of a million fixated laser beams, snapping you out of the safety of sleep. You soon realize your brain is too big to fit inside your skull. On willpower alone, you slough your arid body off the mattress and to the bathroom, being very careful to avoid bleary eye contact with the mirror. It’s all downhill from there.
But does it have to be?
It seems like since the dawn of drinking, mankind has passively accepted hangovers as just part of the payment that must be collected after a night of “too much fun.” Perhaps fun is only to be enjoyed in moderation, something that must be restrained somehow, less it turn evil. Maybe it is a result of a sort of societal checks and balances system to ensure that the majority of us didn’t go off the deep end. In any case, it’s long been known that we enjoy a good, old-fashioned punishment for our sins of pleasure and a hangover fits squarely into that design. For a long time, this logic was never questioned.
Local resident, Eric Summers, was imbibing Palm Valley moonshine with friends Halloween night in 1982 when he decided to go against the grain (alcohol?). Perhaps he foresaw his own impending doom on the hangover horizon when he blurted out, “I wish there was a pill for that.” Then, in a statement that separates the drunks from the drunken heroes, he declared the people who invented that would be “zillionaires.” Cha-ching – enter Dr. Seltzer’s Hangover Helper.
Thirty-seven years later, while currently not a zillionaire, Summers has still done well for himself and at 73 years of age he is re-launching his product for the second time.
Summers himself is somewhat reminiscent of “Doc” Brown from “Back to the Future,” with a splash of Strangelove. At 6’4”, he is served “tall and neat,” decked out in a long black lab coat with the brand’s insignia embroidered on the lapel. The logo, which was first developed shortly after his inebriated epiphany, has changed only slightly to sport gray rather than blonde hair.
The road to today’s Dr. Seltzer has been as indirect as a late night field sobriety test. First, the name was derived as a combination of “Alka-Seltzer” and “Hamburger Helper,” (man’s first attempt at a remedy). He hired an artist to draw up his likeness and a local pharmacist to concoct a product. Pretty much from the start the product took off, and during 80s and 90s, Dr. Seltzer’s Hangover Helper could be found worldwide, including all the T.G.I. Friday’s and Little Champs in the U.S.
Summers even sold to the Russians, who he said, “tried to pay me in vodka and chandeliers.”
In 1993, Rexall Drugs offered to buy his product, which he sold for cool $2.3 million. Only one year after the brand was sold, the F.D.A. made it illegal to combine O.T.C pharmaceuticals, like aspirin and Tylenol, with vitamins and minerals, which, of course, effectively put the brand out of business.
More than a decade later, Summers re-acquired his trademark from Rexall (for free) and teamed up with local Tim DeJoris to formulate and market a better remedy. With the help of a new pharmacist, the team reverse engineered the formula with new, all-natural ingredients for a more effective product.
“We will show people the product and they will think it’s something you buy at Spencer’s,” said DeJoris. “Then I’ll see them next time and they’ll say, ‘holy (shoot), that worked!,’ and I say, ‘I know that’s why I gave it to you.'”
DeJoris says the reality of it is, there is no 100% “cure.” The product is effective, however, at lessening the condition and making people feel good enough get through the day after a long night.
“You’re not going to have any longevity (as a company) if you don’t have something that actually works,” he said.
According to the website, the pills provide potassium, are “anti-inflammatory,” and aid “stomach discomfort,” among other benefits. Basically, a checklist of remedies for hangover ailments that include nausea, body aches, headaches, dizziness or fatigue. The pills aim to to treat the condition as whole, rather than symptomatically. In addition, they can be taken before, while and after drinking alcoholic beverages.
Maybe the only way to completely win against the hangover battle is to not drink in the first place, although many of us still seem to be fighting for the right to party — despite the logic against it. Perhaps those who can’t resist the folly of a carpe diem existence can rest a bit easier knowing the next day might be a little bit more manageable, if not disorganized. And for the rest of the population that tactfully sips unsweetened iced tea on weeknights — we shall all toast to your maturity.
Please drink responsibly