The advertisements running on porn tube sites are frequently bizarre. That's by design: They have to compete with whatever stepmom clip you were about to watch, so they yank you by the ocular nerves with images of Elsa from Frozen daring you not to cum. The algorithms that serve these ads are fairly transparent in how they decide what you see: if you watch a lot of content involving sex toys, you might start getting Tenga masturbation sleeve ads, and if you're into hentai, you'll see a lot of computer-generated debauchery. If you click on one of those ads, you'll see more of the same. Usually.
Occasionally, however, an advertisement will follow me around that makes so little sense I can't help but notice it. It's completely discordant from both my viewing habits and base reality itself. Lately, that ad prominently featured Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, and it suggests that the vinegar can make one's dick bigger and harder.
There are a couple different versions of this ad. In one, an illustration of a disembodied, veiny dick is shoved into a Bragg's apple cider vinegar bottle, with the text above it saying, "This Weird Trick Makes Any Penis Increase by 65%." The dick is supposed to be huge, but it fits into the mouth of the vinegar bottle, which in real life is only about three inches in circumference (for the 16 ounce bottle). In another version, a tiny hand pours apple cider vinegar over another dick—although this time it's way beyond average, because it's drawn bigger than the Bragg bottle, which is eight inches tall and about six inches wide. The third version is a cartoon video, and takes an entirely different approach: a hand slips a tampon into the vinegar bottle until it's soaked, takes it out, and sticks it into a butt waiting nearby. A timer counts, three, two, one... "BOOM!" That veiny dick explodes straight-up erect, twangs back and forth, and shoots a load everywhere. Amazing, if true.
The ad itself has been around for years, at least since 2009, when someone posted it to a forum. It's popped back up on Reddit and elsewhere since, and is still running today—we've seen it active on the Pornhub network of sites and XVideos.
But the product these ads are selling has nothing to do with apple cider vinegar. It's hard to say what they were selling years ago, but today, they're for a dick-pill called InstaHard. The apple cider vinegar ads direct you to a very long video (I gave up after watching it for 40 minutes) narrated by a "couple's therapist" named Bill, who tells a winding tale of discovering the secrets to awakening the mind inside his dick for erections that (consensually) hobbled his wife. The pills claim to contains a bunch of "natural ingredients" that will "simply restores the natural function of your penis by working on the cellular level to re-activate the 'Penile Brain.'" The "PENIS BRAIN" motif repeats several times throughout the video and is absolutely hilarious every time he says it. In the works cited section for this video is a CBS article from 2008 that uses this incredible phrase to describe the autonomic nervous system, which also controls things like breathing and heart rate (and hard-ons), but is not a literal thinking brain inside the head of your penis.
Bill says that the ingredients found in InstaHard, including Maca root, Catuaba bark, and Barrenwort, will make “men conquerors of women.” The “true root cause" of relationship problems, according to Bill, lies the "dopamine/dick connection," which he promises these ingredients will fix. All of this, Bill says, came to him after years of talking to doctors who didn't know how to treat his or his clients' erectile dysfunction. InstaHard saved some marriages and ended others by giving suffering men the confidence to walk out. Bill himself says that when InstaHard kicked in, he made his wife bleed twice, which does not sound like a particularly healthy outcome but, ok.
InstaHard sells for $69 a bottle.
I'm not here to interrogate the effectiveness of dick-growth supplements: it's been proven that they don't work. But the apple cider vinegar imagery is haunting. Folk remedies involving apple cider vinegar have been around forever. Bragg leans into apple cider vinegar's health benefits on its website, which includes an entire "science" section, and promotes a "scientific advisory board" that helps Bragg with "effective dosing."
It might help a tiny bit with regulating blood sugar levels and killing salmonella on salad, but it won't cure cancer or lower blood pressure (although people misguidedly drink it for those reasons, too). It's also pervasive in the erectile dysfunction remedy world: searching Google for "apple cider vinegar penis enlargement" brings up more sketchy-looking supplements and remedies.
The thought that something from your cupboard could magically grant you a massive schlong is a tantalizing one. Could soaking one's penis in apple cider vinegar make it bigger? Wouldn't it... burn? A lot? What if you stuck it up your ass? I asked the experts.
The external approach: Is dunking your dick in apple cider vinegar a good idea?
Yael Cooperman, MD, medical editor for Ro Health Guide, recently addressed the folk remedy of taking apple cider vinegar for erectile dysfunction. "There’s no evidence at all that apple cider vinegar will make your penis bigger, but you might end up with some serious damage down there if you try," Cooperman told me. "There have been waves of claims around the benefits of apple cider vinegar and how it potentially helps with everything from diabetes to erectile dysfunction, but the research doesn’t support those claims."
In fact, soaking your dick in vinegar could burn it. Cooperman said that research on apple cider vinegar as a topical treatment for a skin condition called atopic dermatitis showed that it actually hurt the skin where it was applied. "Not only did the soaks not help, the treatment caused skin irritation and damage to the integrity of the skin barrier, increasing the risk of infection for these patients. And that’s when it was applied to the arm," she said. "The skin on your penis is more delicate. It will likely sting and can cause serious damage to the skin there, allowing bacteria there to cause infection."
Tony Chen, MD, clinical assistant professor at the Stanford School of Medicine urology department, specializes in men's sexual health. He told me that because apple cider vinegar is a weak acid, you should keep it far away from your tender bits. "Chemical burns have been reported with the application of ACV to the face, and I would imagine it could cause similar harm/risks if put on the penis."
What about this one with the vinegar-soaked tampon up the ass. Hypothetically, what would that do?
Nothing good, the doctors told me.
"I'm not aware of any evidence-based health benefits of that, but I would be similarly concerned about chemical irritations or burns on the anal mucosa with prolonged contact with ACV," Chen said.
"Vinegar can damage the delicate lining of your colon, causing bleeding and extremely painful ulcers," said Cooperman. "Also, any damage to your colon can allow the bacteria that live in your digestive system to enter your bloodstream, causing a serious and potentially deadly infection."
Okay, so it could be harmful. But assuming you're ready to risk it all... could it also make your dick bigger?
Chen said that he couldn't think of "any plausible mechanism" by which apple cider vinegar could increase penis size. In fact, because vinegar has an acetic acid component and astringent properties, he said, it would make more sense for it to actually cause skin shrinkage, "but that would theoretically lead to a decrease, not increase in penis size," Chen said. Instead of putting stinging acidic liquid up your anus or down your dickhole, talk to a doctor who specializes in erectile dysfunction or sexual health. "There are lots of safe, effective, and proven therapies for erectile dysfunction that your doctor can tailor to you," Chen said.
"Apple cider vinegar isn’t going to make your penis bigger," Cooperman said. "Not as a salve, not as a soak, not as a food, not as an enema, not as a pill. Don’t do it."
Another urologist, who requested to remain anonymous for this story, summed it up: "ACV won’t enlarge any penis! In minute amounts, I suppose, it belongs in salad dressings, not penises."
I've reached out to Bragg for comment on whether they endorse their product for those seeking a bigger hog through questionable means, and will update if I hear back.