Pedialyte has made it clear that the upset stomach remedy you remember from childhood is all grown up. The product’s new “See the Lyte” campaign cleverly reflects its shift from nursing toddlers back from a bout of a stomach bug to nursing 20-somethings back from a weekend bender.

Vomiting, diarrhea, and general malaise are symptoms associated with both a stomach flu and a night of heavy drinking, so it would make sense that the recovery method would be similar. At least, that’s the idea an increasing number of young drinkers share. But what first began as an underground “quick fix” to the headache and grogginess caused by drinking too much soon became a nationwide trend. According to Abbott Laboratories, the creators of Pedialyte, sales have gone up nearly 60 percent since 2012, around a third of which came from adults.  

“There’s an underground movement in social media to drive word of mouth,” explained Heather Mason, executive vice president at Abbott, as reported by National Monitor. “We saw increased use by adults.”

According to Mason, the drink’s new campaign is aimed to take advantage of the product's potential for entering an adult market.

“We have high electrolyte and lower sugar content than common [hydration] beverages,” Mason said. “That combination caused us to say, ‘We need to be part of this.’”

  

Not Exactly A Miracle Cure

Pedialyte’s hangover relief claims aren’t unfounded, but the product falls short. While it may offer relief because it's infused with electrolytes, charged salts or ions, essential for replenishing the body from various bodily functions (excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating), most symptoms of a hangover are not caused by dehydration and electrolyte loss. According to Michael Oshinsky, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, the actual “hangover headache” experienced by many the night after drinking too much is actually caused by a buildup of waste from the metabolism of alcohol and has nothing to do with dehydration. The only cure for this symptom is giving the body enough time to efficiently filter out this excess waste.

Still, the adult fans of Pedialyte argue that the drink does enough to relieve their hangover symptoms to warrant a place on their bedside cabinet every Sunday morning. However, others argue that despite Pedialyte’s ability to relieve hangover symptoms, its association with children’s medication may hinder it from effectively expanding into the adult market.

“It’s like going out and having a headache and someone asks, ‘Would you like children’s Tylenol?,’” Robert Passikoff, founder and president of consulting firm Brand Keys, explained, as reported by the National Monitor. “Abbott isn’t going to be the only one doing this. Adults are going to feel they need a product of their own. The name becomes a barrier.”