Tastier than aspirin: S. Korean ice cream bar touted as hangover cure
May 27, 2016
SEOUL, South Korea — South Koreans, who are among the world’s heaviest drinkers, can now have a hangover cure for dessert.
A convenience store recently introduced a grapefruit-flavored ice cream bar it says can soothe the effects of a rough night out.
That’s important in a country where work culture encourages after-hours drinking on week nights to finalize deals and promote teamwork.
The Withme convenience store chain launched the Gyeondyo-bar ice cream last week. The name, which translates to “hang in there,” expresses “the difficulties of employees who have to stick to hard work schedules after drinking a lot the night before,” a news release said.
Store shelves in South Korea have several purported hangover cures, including pills, drinks and soups. The industry generates about $126 million (150 billion won) in annual sales, a Reuters report said.
But the company, which is part of the Shinsegae grocery group, said this is the first time ice cream has been marketed to fight hangovers. The cure’s main ingredient is oriental raisin tree fruit juice, which is commonly used in such potions. The 194-calorie dessert also has plenty of sugar.
Two Stars and Stripes staffers sampled the ice cream and weren’t overly impressed by the taste. Then again, they weren’t hung over at the time, so they couldn’t vouch for its curative capabilities, which might more than offset the flavor.
Ho Young Kang, who owns a Withme store in Seoul’s Dongdaemun area, said Wednesday he had sold only six of 40 bars since their debut last weekend. That’s with an introductory promotion of buy two for 2,400 won (about $2) and get one free.
“It’s a brand new ice cream so people around here don’t know about it yet,” he said.
Ho said the most popular hangover remedy in his story is a drink called Hut-gae Condition, which was featured in a music video by Snoop Dogg and Korean pop star Psy in 2014.
South Koreans drink an average of 12.3 liters (more than three gallons) of alcohol per capita each year, barely edging out Australia as the most in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a 2014 World Health Organization report.
That has the government worried. South Korea’s official National Health Insurance Policy Institute estimated the social cost of drinking was about 9.45 trillion won in 2013. It factored in lost production, hospitalizations and early deaths.