After putting out a call on social media to ask friends their thoughts on Pedialyte, my childhood friend Donnie Elsass summed up the drink’s power this way, recounting how it helped him recently recover from Thursday-night partying for an NHL playoff game. “I literally slammed the whole bottle the next day before 10am, had some coffee, and felt amazing,” he says. “It’s been relatively recently that I’ve been turned onto it as a hangover cure, but because of that one instance I’m like, I’m going to do this every time I drink now.”
The brand’s sales have reflected this newfound use. From 2012 to 2015, Nielsen Homescan found that Pedialyte’s sales grew 22% to $102 million. This growth finally forced Abbott’s hand to push towards marketing to grown-ups in 2015. “Today, almost half of our Pedialyte business [is households without kids],” Frank says in an email. Over the past year alone, Google searches for “Pedialyte and hangovers” surged 3,600%.
Of course, with any “It” thing, there’s a celebrity element. Several years ago both Pharrell Williams and Miley Cyrus were purported to be converts, and quickly scrolling Twitter yields handfuls of verified career partiers touting Pedialyte’s re-hydrating prowess. People like Michael Kelly of House of Cards fame and musicians like Travis Barker have weighed in.
All of this influence definitely helps, but Pedialyte wouldn’t also be a beverage acceptable for adults without lots of earned media. Both Harper and Elsass have personally put friends on to drinking it, but it’s the online culture surrounding it that gives friends’ recommendations weight. “A friend of mine from high school will always Snapchat shots of Pedialyte before he goes out,” Elsass says. “And I’ll Snapchat pics of my Pedialyte bottle, too, like, Always gotta be prepared, and then I’ll have three or four people be like ‘does that really work?’ And I’m like, 'Yeah, it’s legit.'”