I’m a child of the pop culture generation that has been targeted the most. Seriously, the eighties and nineties was all about pop culture. The TV and Radio had all of our attention. Even the books we read had a communal feeling as we all worked through Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis. Of course there were alternative media we could turn to, but as children we were spoon fed pop culture. I ate it up (obviously). To be fair though so did most people I know.
I’m sure I was excited at the prospect of Flinstone Vitamins. Around age four I started taking them on a daily basis. I remember liking the Dino pills the best. Thanks to the rerun culture of the UHF stations, I was very familiar with the Flintstones. My favorite part of the credits was where Dino was thrown outside. My second favorite was the rack of dinosaur ribs knocking over the car. I’m sure I begged to start taking these vitamins, and take them I did.
I loved them and took a single pill every single day. Until the bright idea dawned upon me that if one pill is good for you, more pills must be better. Granted as an adult we all have that friend. The one who says well if one glass of red wine is healthy for the heart – I’m a champ because I downed the whole bottle. While our livers can recover from drinking too much wine on occasion, vitamins can be a bit trickier of a thing. I ended up testing this theory.
I was around five years old when I put my many vitamins plan into action. My parents were headed out for something. I remember it being a school play, but I think I’m wrong with that. After dinner I had my normal vitamin. Now this was the earliest of the eighties so things like childproof bottles didn’t exist yet. While my parents were getting ready I went into the kitchen and climbed up on the counter. I then opened the cupboard and opened the bottle. Then I took it upon myself to eat most if not all of a complete bottle of Flinstone Vitamins.
A few minutes later my parents came down and I showed them that I ate all of my vitamins. They of course did what any reasonable parent would do – they flipped out. They got on the phone and called poison control. Poison control did not have a good answer, but there was some concern about the amount of iron I had taken. The concern was so great that they rushed me to the Amherst hospital to get my stomach pumped.
Being five years old I assumed they were either going to cut a hole in my side and pump out the stuff directly. Then the second thought was that they would stick a tube down my throat and suck it all out. Neither scenario seemed appealing to me at all. So I did what every five year old does and through a fit and fought everything the whole way. I remember being in the ER and the stomach pumping ended up being nothing mechanical at all. They started by handing me a metal bowl. Then they gave me a spoonful of liquid (syrup of ipecac). Then for what seemed to be hours I was heaving it out of my system. It was not a fun time.
I can imagine what it would be if there was a kindergarten activity that night I missed. I would have been the first peer to those other kindergartners that ever went through an overdose. I would have been the hard edge kid from the wrong side of the tracks. All the girls would have loved me and the guys would want to be me. I would be the kid other parents would be wary of allowing their kids around. Granted it was Flinstone Vitamins, but what other substance can you really joke about a child getting an overdose on? Besides, for those that know me, I’m so not that kid. Heck, I think just by posting this article – anyone reading this article knows I was not that kid.
That moment was a turning point for things. Around that time period I became a very picky eater. I still attribute that to the trauma of getting my stomach pumped. As I aged I got better with things, but I seem to remember it being a night and day difference for tastes. The idea of hard chewable vitamins themselves churns my stomach. I haven’t had them since that day, but I can remember the flavor that enticed me to eat a whole bottle. That memory of flavor is enough to make me nauseous.
I fought my wife for years on taking vitamins because of that incident. Occasionally I will take gummi vitamins that don’t taste anything like the chewables. Still, it’s a battle because of that experience. The funniest thing though is that when I used to give blood, they would always comment about how high my iron level was. Granted, as an adult who understands metabolization and common sense, I know that their is no way the vitaman of overdose of youth changed my body to produce excess iron decades later. You would need gamma rays or be a full blown mutant for that type of thing to occur. The best advice I can add having been traumatized by this myself – if you think you want to eat Flintstone Vitamins because they taste good – Yabba Dabba Don’t.