Cherry, Cherry

I’m at the tail end of my sinus drainage/coughing condition.  Thanks to the frequent coughing, my voice sounds as rough and gravelly and throaty as Kathleen Turner during her Hollywood heyday.

I’ve been taking a knock-off of a night-time cold medication — one that helpfully includes a plastic shot glass that looks uncomfortably like a miniature specimen cup that you’re supposed to use to drink the stuff — to help me sleep through the night.  A slug of the mixture coats the throat thoroughly and, for the most part, has minimized the times when I wake up to go into a coughing jag.

There’s just one problem — the flavor.  Like virtually every form of cough syrup devised since the dawn of human history, this “Nite Time Cough” medicine features the strongest, most pungent, ridiculously over-the-top cherry flavor and smell that you can possibly imagine in your most appalling nightmare.  You smell it and you instantly think “cough syrup.”   You drink it and you feel like essence of fortified cherry has infused every molecule of your body.

It’s not a light cherry touch.  There’s nothing subtle about it.  It’s hit-you-over-the-head cherry flavor, cherry flavor to the factor of 10, cherry flavor like the chemist who works on the mixture inadvertently knocked over the entire bottle of cherry extract into the vat when the recipe called for only a teaspoon and decided to bottle it and send it out to market rather than admit his blunder to the boss.

Why do so many cough medications go with obscene cherry flavoring?  Perhaps the nose and taste bud assaulting cherry flavor simply does a better job of masking the actual taste of dextromethorphan HBr, doxylamine succinate, and antitistamine that are the key ingredients of the cough suppressant.  Or maybe it’s a bit more basic than that.  Maybe the manufacturer has concluded that people with coughs expect the cherry flavor, and the sickly taste is a key part of the successful treatment of the cough.  Perhaps an over-the-top, throat-coating cherry flavor more effectively communicates that you’ve got a cough and you’d better take care of it.