Ambrosia: Another of Lee Gruenfeld's funny looks at Ironman

Lee Gruenfeld has another tongue-in-cheek look at the world of Ironma
February 28th 2009.

In case you're not familiar with the term from Greek mythology, "ambrosia" was the food of the gods, carried to Olympus by doves, a divine exhalation of Earth itself that conferred immortality upon whoever drank it.

Big deal. Pick up any triathlon magazine and you'll find ads for tons of stuff that's not only way cooler than that, but available by mail order. There seems to be some sort of contest among manufacturers to see who can get away with the most outlandish claims, but nobody's won yet because there haven't been any rejections of submitted copy. (I once did a little asking around to try to find out just how absurd a claim would have to be for a magazine to reject it, and the only threshold I could find was whether the advertiser's check cleared.)

I wrote a whole book once about how golf equipment manufacturers long ago discovered that their customers will believe in, and pay big money for, anything they're told will improve their games, even though there was no evidence for it. So I got to thinking: Why not try the same with triathletes? People are already out there making tons of dough selling them supplements they don't need and equipment that makes no difference, so why not hop on the gravy train and cash in? If anyone is willing to put up some seed money to start operations, I've got some can't-miss ideas. Don't laugh: Anyone who believes that "oxygen enhanced" water can improve performance will believe danged near any load of hoohah you can wrap in enough technical-sounding jargon.

Get a load of these babies:

Plutonium-infused energy bars: Plutonium is the fuel that powers atomic bombs. Therefore, anything with plutonium in it will power you with the force of atoms themselves. Worried about radiation? No need. These energy bars are based on homeopathic medicine, which means that the "active ingredient" is repeatedly diluted to the point where there isn't actually any of it in the final product. But, as homoeopathists will tell you, it's the "echo" of the original substance that does the trick. Homeopathy has been around for 150 years, and hasn't changed in all that time, so it has to be true. Of course, we might have a little trouble actually getting our hands on plutonium, but who cares? It's not like the FDA has a test for the presence of echoes.

Jamaican wheat grass: Wheat grass, consumed yard by disgusting yard by legions of people who never took a few minutes to find out if it's doing them any good, isn't doing them any good. It's grass, f'crying' out loud. Eventually, somebody's going to actually look in a book and figure this out, but we can be ready. Ready? Here goes: The reason it doesn't do any good, see, is because the wheat grass you're drinking is grown in places like Dubuque or somebody's back yard (or somebody's back yard in Dubuque), where it used to be considered a nuisance until somebody figured out a way to get people to actually drink the awful stuff. But wheat grass from Jamaica, that's different. Jamaica is the home of sprinter Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet. So if you drink Jamaican wheat grass, you'll be faster, too. The best part is that "Jamaican" doesn't indicate where it comes from. It's just the name, like "Atlantic salmon" doesn't mean it comes from the Atlantic and "large" olives are actually the smallest size sold. This is perfectly legal under U.S. law. We can grow the stuff in places like Dubuque or somebody's back yard and we're, like, totally covered.

Magnetic GelPaks: Gels in environmentally-hostile foil packs are so ubiquitous it's practically generic. What we need to do is spice them up a little, by magnetizing the stuff. If you do that, then all the atoms of your body that it comes in contact with will have their magnetic spins aligned rather than knocking about in random chaos. Any physicist will verify this. Why having your atoms magnetically aligned makes any difference is utterly beyond me, but people have made a lot of money off the concept, so why not us?

Water infused with vitamins & anti-oxidants: (Note to self: Someone is already doing this. And 7Up just announced their latest product: Cherry 7UP Antioxidant. Thought it was a gag. It wasn't. Pay a little more attention in the future, okay?)

Mountain Gorilla Gonads: Can't believe someone hasn't already thought of this. There's this stuff on the market named after bulls because it contains taurine, a grass supposedly munched on by bulls, hence the name "taurine," from the same root as "taurus," meaning "bull." It's an apt description, too, because eating the same grass that bulls eat and thinking you will therefore become bull-like is, well…you get the picture. But they sell this stuff by the warehouse load so why don't we cash in as well? If we grind up gorilla testicles and mix it into a concoction that contains caffeine, we can claim huge boosts in virility. At least for men. For women, it'd be a mustache, heavy thighs and a voice like the basso profundo in "La Traviata." Still, if they think it'll get them to the finish line faster, they'll buy it anyway.

Dr. Whatsisname's chrono-synclasticized creatininic metastabotolic amino X complex: Just trust me…this is great stuff. The literature is going to say that all you have to know is that the last two winners of the Ironman World Championships took it. What if someone asks about the 357 racers who took it and didn't win? Don't worry: The last time a claim like that ran in a tri mag, nobody asked. Besides, by then we will have been assured by no less an authority that Dr. Whatsisname himself that this was just noise in the data, and Dr. W got his PhD in psycho-ceramics (the study of crackpots) from the University of Our Lady of Perpetual Motion in Gottinhimmel, West Bavaria.

Homeopathic Gatorade: Is this a great idea or what? Homoeopathy is like astrology: People believe in it because other people believe in it. It's completely unregulated and there are no laws governing what you can call "homeopathic." So what we do is, we buy up millions of cases of Gatorade, slap "Homeopathic" stickers on the labels, then sell it at a 25% markup. Hey, wait a minute: We can call it "organic," too! No pesticides were used during manufacture, and…wait! It's also "sustainable" because if it runs out, we can make more!

I'm going to stop here because I'm already sorry I shared that last one with you. It's killer.