You can add another item to the list of things people will put up their nose in search of a buzz: chocolate powder. Specifically, an "infused raw cacao snuff" containing cacao powder along with the energy-drink staples gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana. It's called Coco Loko, because of course it is.
The Washington Post reports on the Coco Loko...well, it's not a "trend," really. The Post quotes a distributor's decidedly lukewarm take: "It's not flying off the shelves or anything, but people are definitely curious." So let's call it the Coco Loko curiosity, which you are free to use as your band name.
Coco Loko is made by an Orlando company, Legal Lean, whose 29-year-old founder, Nick Anderson, learned of what he calls the "chocolate-snorting trend" in Europe a few months ago. (The notion of chocolate nose candy has been around since at least 2008, thanks to a French confectioner who gave it a whirl, then semi-popularized the idea.) Snorting chocolate, Anderson told the Post, is "the future." He says the product offers "almost like an energy-drink feeling, like you're euphoric but also motivated to get things done." A feeling that lasts 30 minutes to an hour. Ten servings of Coko Loko costs $24.99.
He created his own blend, which he says is popular in the hip-hop community and around college campuses in Atlanta and Houston. It's hard to say exactly what "popular" means, but the Post does quote an Atlanta distributor as saying, "There's definitely a buzz going around about this." Though it's the same person who goes on to say that "it's not off the shelves or anything." We are in the realm of ineffable "buzz."
Legal Lean has cultivated that buzz in part thanks to Anderson's brother, a rapper who goes by the name Bezz Believe. Mr. Believe hawks the company's titular product, a drug-free "relaxation drink" modeled after "purple drank"—often made by mixing cough syrup with soft drinks and, for sweetness, a Jolly Rancher. Purple drank reportedly helped put Lil Wayne in the hospital four years ago.
The cough syrup in purple drank (aka "sizzurp") often contains promethazine or codeine, which depress the central nervous system and respiratory system, respectively. Legal Lean contains extracts of chamomile, valerian root, rose hips, and St. John's Wort, along with some other herbal extracts. The reviews are…not great. (If you're interested, Amazon carries a surprising number of purple drank knock-offs.)
So what about Coco Loko—does it actually do anything? And is it safe? Anderson describes a mild buzz, like that of an energy drink, which makes sense given its ingredients and the reported effects of snorting chocolate. He says he uses the brown powder as an alternative to drinking and during long car rides and when he's anxious.
As for the risks, no one's sure just yet. "There's no data, and as far as I can tell, no one's studied what happens if you inhale chocolate into your nose. When I mention it to people, nobody's ever heard of it," Andrew Lane, director of the Johns Hopkins Sinus Center, told the Post. He reiterates the typical dangers of putting something up your nose: You don't know how much of each ingredient is going to pass through your nasal mucus membranes, what might get stuck in there, and how it might clog your sinuses. That clogging would be the result of a very attractive brown paste, mind you.
And given that we're talking about stimulants here, it's worth noting that the side effects—including heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure—could be magnified since the ingredients are being inhaled versus swallowed. But, Lane said, "certainly this is better than using an illicit drug."
A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said the agency will consider if and how it should regulate Coco Loko; a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson said he wasn't aware of any agency concerns about cocoa inhalants.
So Coco Loko might make you feel something and right now there aren't major safety concerns. If you've been waiting for a snortable energy drink made of chocolate, your time is now. Have at it, I guess?
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