Since when did medicine turn into tasting like candy? It is because parents don’t want to fight their children who don’t want to put a bad taste in their mouths? Did that change happen the same time children started telling their parents what to do or did it happen when parents decided they didn’t want to control the behavior of their children?

When I was growing up, medicine tasted awful — it felt like rust on your tongue and smelled horrible in your nostrils and the taste burned your throat as it went down to work. Medicine was an experience you never wanted to repeat again in your life if you could avoid it and isn’t that how medicine is supposed to work?

Medicine is serious. It changes your body and it is not an experience to be enjoyed and a child should not want more just because it tastes good. Walking down the aisle of our grocery store yesterday I saw wild cherry cough syrup, bubble gum sore throat lozenges and Tropical Fruit flavored stool softeners!

Bring back the cod liver oil, I say, and let the children suffer in their sickness so they can finally taste what the road to healing really tastes like as it sticks to the back of their throats while toughening them up to the shock that being ill isn’t a vacation down candy cane lane!


  1. Hi tajuki!
    It’s interesting children seem to need sweets to swallow something that doesn’t taste good.
    Is washing a child’s mouth out with soap out now, too?

  2. That might be worthwhile if you have a child who just has an ear infection or something. But when you have kids who are chronically ill or have transplants who must be on a multitude of medications forever until they die, it might be more beneficial to have that medicine taste good so they receive it everyday, twice and three times a day if need be so as to keep that specific organ functioning to its best degree. This way they get that medication until they are big enough to take pills and it really wont matter about the taste then.

  3. Hi hterry —
    Yes, we’ll give terminally ill children the “Tropical Fruit” exemption.
    I’m more talking about the strange parenting approach that, for an ordinary and infrequently ill child, medicine must taste good in order to be taken. I think that philosophy sets a rather bad precedent that only things that taste good are good for you when, especially in life, the distasteful and the awful can often make you feel better and form you into a better person in the long view.
    If you have been taught early in your life that only the good tasting is good for you then you are never open to anything that is perceived as being bad or blunt or tart.
    Too often children and then teens and then young adults shy away from the difficult and the hard because it isn’t instantly rewarding, it doesn’t “feel good” and there’s no direct benefit to them for taking part in the process. Sometimes medicine needs to taste bad just like sometimes life is hard and not fun — but you take them both and swallow the good with the bad in order to be a well-framed person.
    A vibrant tongue and a vital life must be taught to find the benefit in both the sweet and the sour and the tart and the bitter.

  4. True, true, but has bad as some of these parents are today do you really think they are going to fight to give their child a bad tasting medication verses a good tasting one they may not have to fight to get down? That is of course assuming they actually take the child into see the doctor in the first place.
    I remember growing up when I had Penicillin/Amoxicillin it was a bubble gum flavor, couldn’t stand the taste of it myself. Give me the harsh tasting stuff verses that anyday. My mother didn’t put up with any crap from us, we were told to take medication, we took whether we liked it or not. Usually afterward you could have some water to get rid of the nasty taste in your mouth if need be.

  5. hterry —
    Right! Parents give in to the “bad taste” of their children by failing to teach them that tasting bad doesn’t always mean it is bad for you.
    I don’t remember ever having a medication that was made to taste good. My grandfather was a pharmacist so we were always given what worked best not what tasted best.

  6. Heh… when I was a child – before there was childproof packaging – I loved yellow Triaminic. My mom walked into the kitchen one day and found me polishing off what little (luckily) was left in the bottle in the medicine cabinet. I had used the kitchen stool to reach the cabinet.
    She scolded me and told me that what I had done could have been very dangerous. I don’t remember that incident – though I don’t know if that was a result of the medicine or my age! 😀

  7. Well, it was sweet, but I wouldn’t say it tasted like candy. No, I didn’t like the taste of harsh medicine.
    A couple of years ago I had an upper respiratory infection. The doctor prescribed a cough syrup that tasted like orange popsicles. Man, that stuff was good.
    I think it’s great if medicine tastes good. I mean, you’re sick! Why have to take something that just makes you more miserable? The problem is that parents need to stress to children that medicine is not meant for eating like a dessert. It’s to be taken as needed/prescribed.

  8. Hi Carla —
    I don’t think medicine should taste good because it should not be an invitation to keep on tasting beyond the healing.
    We don’t take medicine to taste something good. We take medicine to deal with an illness.
    There are certain plants that animals will shy away from and not eat because the smell tells them the plant is not good for them.
    Medicine is not good for healthy people.
    We add stink to natural gas because too much of it can kill you and the same is true on a narrower scale for medicine.
    Too much “orange popsicles” and you might end up the Vitas Gerulaitis!

  9. I always had nasty tasting medicine when I was a kid, none of this sweet fruit flavored stuff. Cod liver oil, shudder.
    Having grand kids running around here we of course see the benefit of medicine that tastes nice to get them to take it. But of course, they like the tatse and equate it with candy. If one is sick and has to take the candy flavored medicine “Mommy” sent over with them, the other one will say “I”m sick too gramma, can I have medcin.”
    We have to explain it isn’t candy.
    Nasty tastig medicine is why I don’t drink root beer, the taste reminds me of medicine I took as a kid.

  10. Mik!
    Right! You’re taking the point I’m trying to make and honing it even sharper with your direct extended direct experience and, for that, I thank you!
    Root beer tastes like medicine? Yes! Genuine root beer is made from all kinds of roots and spices that, at one time, were thought to have medicinal value. I can understand why you don’t find the taste enjoyable now.

  11. My brother jokes that my mother encouraged his drinking by giving him rock-and-rye as a child when he had a bad cold. She called it “tea with honey,” and he liked it so much that he would ask for “tea with honey” with his supper. Hee 😆

  12. That’s a funny story, Carla! It reminds me of a friend of mine who hired a nanny from Jamaica and her method of quieting a crying baby was to put a drop of rum on the baby’s tongue — it quiets them right down – she claimed.
    My friend stood there in horror and looked at her and finally said, “You’re not turning my baby into an alcoholic!”
    The nanny was culturally insulted.
    My friend was worried about his baby.
    In the end — the baby remained alcohol free and the nanny received a pay raise.

  13. When I had my daughter in for her first two sets of immunizations she had a horrible fever and screamed for three days (I didn’t sleep at all for those three days). I was told this was perfectly normal by doctors and they then said children’s panadol was a good way to bring down the fever. My daughter absolute hated it. She spat the sweet strawberry flavoured goop all over me.
    I had only gone ahead with those first two due to pressure from others. I don’t believe in immunization because I have seen first hand what happens when a child has a reaction. A friend of mine when I was in school (in NZ we have our last immunizations at age 10 or 11) went into seizures and was in a comma for three months.
    My daughter has never been sick other than the fevers caused by the immunizations, if you wish to call that sick. She’s played with sick kids, rolled around in the mud, and spent early mornings playing in cow shit in the pits as I milked cows. She is far from sickly, and it’s amazing how good cow sh*t was for her nappy rash.
    I think parents today are obsessed with medication. They pump their kids full of pills and potions with the illusion that it’s “best”, very rarely (if at all) questioning the doctor that’s doing this. Kids on ritalin to calm them down is the best example of this, and I am not talking about children who actually have a medical condition that means they need this.
    This attitude could be born from my medical history, or possibly it’s from finding out that one of my best friends was fed ritalin crushed up and mixed into her food by her mother to calm her down, all because a doctor said she was a little to hyper. I don’t know, it just seems like it’s all out of control.
    As a note, when my children get sick I will be taking them to both a western doctor and a homeopath. Now, if you’ve ever been to a homeopath then you’d know that those herbs taste absolutely disgusting. Do I care? No. It’s important someone gets better, not that I give them pills to mask the sickness and pander to their taste buds.
    [Edited for content by David W. Boles]

  14. Hi krome —
    I’m with you all the way on the over-medication of children but I do support childhood immunizations. Those shots have saved many more lives than they’ve ruined.

  15. Lets put it this way, in America I will be having to immunize my children because the laws here are very different to that of New Zealand. BUT, the immunizations are different too. A lot more research and testing goes into American immunizations, making them a lot safer than the ones in New Zealand.
    For the past year New Zealand has been pushing the meningitus vaccination, this is crap. The reason I say this is because it has not been properly tested, and yet is being labeled safe. There is no way I’m injecting my kid with that when it hasn’t been through appropriate testing.
    In New Zealand they use scare tactics and false information to promote immunizations. After a lot of reading online I found out that in a lot of cases there is little to no proof that a lot of immunizations have any benefit to a persons immune system, or that the benefits are very short lived.
    Now, both my children received special prem vaccinations. Because they were both prem their lungs were under developed, which places them at a higher risk of particular problems becoming dangerous quickly, such as whooping cough (which can be very serious in babies anyway).
    There’s a lot about immunizations that bother me, from the debate of when to begin (which is different the world over) to what to actually give a child (again, this differs between countries). So I’ve picked out the ones that I feel have the research to back it, and are safe to give my children, instead of blindly jabing them with whatever the doctor says I should.

  16. Okay, what the hell?
    First, why on earth are people giving children flu vaccines?
    Secondly, what the – insert relative offensive word here – mercury!
    This is disturbing, very disturbing.

    Excellent find, Gordon.
    “Tylenol Children’s Oral Suspension With Flavor Creator” is a real product.

  18. It’s especially funny (and not funny at the same time) because on the front page of the x-entertainment page the link to the article is titled ‘Medicine is Candy!”

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