2014.04.30 Tell the officer you only ate some spaghetti


This has been a banner month for alcohol in odd forms. Last week, it was time for Palcohol’s 15 minutes of fame. Palcohol, in case you missed the news, is freeze-dried alcohol in powder form. When you’re ready for a drink, add water to the powder and it’s party time, if that’s your idea of a party.

One news program made an unintentional slip when reporting on the product. For once, I got to see the blunder  live rather than internet replays later.

I was watching “CBS This Morning” when a story on Palcohol came on. Gayle King started the story by saying it would soon be possible to get “liquor from a pooch.” She recognized her error almost immediately and restated that she meant “liquor from a pouch,” then, for good measure, spelled out “P-O-U-C-H” so there would be no confusion.

It’s rare that someone at the network level will correct themselves, especially since it may have been a spelling error  on King’s TelePrompTer screen rather than a mistake on her part. In any case, by clearing pooches of any potential wrongdoing, CBS should avoid any lawsuits from Lassie, Snoopy or Rin Tin Tin. Spuds MacKenzie, with a long history as Bud Light’s spokesdog, probably wouldn’t have had a cause for a suit in the first place.

The big news about Palcohol was that the product’s labels had been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on April 8, then later rescinded with an explanation that they had been “issued in error.” The problem is that some feel the product would be too easily misused or abused without clearer package warnings.

Also, since Palcohol comes in flavors, it could be extremely attractive to those too young to buy alcohol legally. Then there’s the possibility of the product being inhaled, not to mention problems with the product’s ease of portability. It’s much easier to hide and transport a small pouch of Palcohol than a bottle or can of a normal alcoholic beverage.

Palcohol creator Mark Philips told CBS News that the product is “a great convenience” for people like hikers and backpackers. Don’t they have enough possible dangers already without making it easier for them to get drunk as well?

The company even suggests that customers could get “an extra kick” by sprinkling the powder on food. Tired of plain old cereal for breakfast? Why not Cheerios and Palcohol?

What’s even more surprising to me is an alcohol-laced product that’s already on store shelves. Two weeks ago, while spaghetti shopping, a jar of Prego’s newest—new to me, at least—-Italian sauce, named “Creamy Vodka,” caught my eye.

At first, I wondered if I should look around for hidden cameras. Surely this was some kind of joke. But there were no cameras, just lots and lots of jars of Creamy Vodka sauce. Then I decided I should check out the list of ingredients.

First on the list was tomato puree. No shock there. Next was cream, followed —-believe it or not—vodka. No mention of what brand. Wouldn’t it be a selling point if they were using a well-known brand like Grey Goose, Stoli or Absolut? Most likely, the folks at Prego make their own vodka rather than buying some high-priced brand name hooch. Hopefully, it’s not hooch from a pooch.

The label states than each 1/2 cup serving of Prego Creamy Vodka Sauce contains 40% of your daily vegetables. I didn’t find that surprising, either. After all, isn’t most vodka made from potatoes? Nonetheless, I chose to get my vegetables the old-fashioned way and bought a jar of Prego’s Tomato, Onion and Garlic Sauce instead. All the nutrition of Creamy Vodka Sauce with none of the potential hangover worries.

Actually, I’m fairly sure that there’s no  hangover danger involved. The sauce most likely is cooked at a temperature high enough to eliminate any intoxicating effect from the vodka. That’s why there’s no toll-free number for Alcoholics Anonymous on the label.

After all, Prego is a division of Campbell’s Soup. I doubt they would make a product that could potentially harm those adorable Campbell Kids. There’s even a recipe on their website for Creamy Vodka Chicken & Penne. It’s hard to imagine the Campbell Kids having some for lunch, then singing “M’m! M’m! Booze!” But I have to wonder what’s the next alcohol-enhanced product—Quaker Oatmeal with Rum Sauce?