For Cold and Flu Season: Which Cough Syrup Tastes Best?

Categories: Food Fight

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Nature Fusion had points docked for being ridiculously, outlandishly difficult to open.
General holiday stress, wildly schizophrenic weather and two weekends in a row of driving to Dallas-Fort Worth has taken its toll on me: I have a cold.

It happens once a year, despite my best efforts. And I'm not alone: Texas's cold and flu season generally runs from December through February, so I'm guessing a few of you poor bastards out there are down for the count too right now.

It's okay, though: We're all in this together. And, as I told one of my editors, the worst part of being sick isn't the sore throat or the stuffy nose or the aching joints or the mucus sliding slowly and stubbornly past my epiglottis. The worst part is the medicine.

I hate cough syrup. I hate "Cold & Flu" syrup. I hate all of it. If there is anything else in the world more capable of triggering my gag reflex, I've not yet met it.

"How can people get addicted to this stuff?!" I asked my editor over email. "It's disgusting." And then she had a brilliant idea: a taste test to find the least offensive-tasting syrup for cold and flu season.

On one hand, I didn't want to leave the house -- especially to buy any more of the nasty Mucinex that I was already forcing down my throat. But on the other hand, if I went to Randall's to get it, that meant I could also get an Antone's po-boy, which is about the only thing that sounded good to eat. And there was also the remote chance that I could find a decent-tasting cough syrup and realize my dreams of getting well and becoming the first food critic to get addicted to purple drank.

Off to Randall's I went.

I was a little surprised, frankly, that no one at the store had a problem with me buying four jugs of cough syrup and a po-boy. I was asked for my Texas driver's license, which I provided even though it's been expired for well over a year, and that was it. Shit, if I'd known it was this easy, I could have been making meth for years...

Back home, I lined up the bottles and the taste test began.

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The Contestants

Tylenol Cold & Flu, honey and lemon flavor ($5.99): This tastes like fertilizer. I mean, like straight-up industrial-grade fertilizer. How does this even happen? There are no detectable honey or lemon notes anywhere in here.

Mucinex Cold & Flu & Sore Throat ($9.99): It tastes like berry-flavored drain cleaner. I described it on Twitter as being aggressively berry-flavored, in fact, like a fruit bomb Cabernet from California. Except imagine that Cab mixed with Liquid Plumber. Piquant.

Safeway-brand Nighttime Cold & Flu ($4.99): ...cherries? That's all I taste? What...what...what miracle is this?! Is someone screwing with me? This has absolutely no bad aftertaste, no burn going down the throat, nothing. It just tastes like extra-thick cherry syrup. Unreal.

Vicks Nature Fusion Cold & Flu ($7.99): You know this one; it's the one in all those commercials lately, advertising that it's made with all-natural flavors and a bunch of other bullshit. Instead, the ads claim, it's flavored with honey. It certainly tastes like honey, but more like the packets of "honey" you get at McDonald's when you ask for it (and packets of grape jelly, natch) with your sausage biscuit. It's overly honey-flavored. It's creepy. It's the uncanny valley of honey flavors. I dislike this one intensely.

Vicks NyQuil Cold & Flu ($8.99): This is the OG of cough syrups. It has no "flavor" other than A Bunch of Chemicals That Will Make You Feel Better So Shut Up. I appreciate that in a cough syrup. It's a vile flavor, for sure, but less vile somehow for not trying to mask itself in berries or honey. This is a close second to the Safeway-brand Nighttime Cold & Flu.


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31 comments
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There are so many cough syrup available in the medical store but for taking it before you must get the prescription from the doctor that which one will be best fit for your body otherwise it will be some side effect of it.

home remedies for cough
home remedies for cough

Personally i don't like the taste of cough syrup therefore i always prefer home remedies for the treatment of cough..From my opinion ginger and honey are the best treatment for its cure...

Sophie
Sophie

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KAC
KAC

I've always loved the taste of nasty cough syrup. Must be like I like Jager so much too...

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Sorry I didn't get to this sooner.  I haven't done anything but Alka-Seltzer cold & flu for the past 20 years.  Here's the thing:  You pour two pills in water.  You wait for them to dissolve.  You guzzle it down fear-factor style.  It hits you much easier than any of these nonsense syrups do, and I'm pretty sure I've never been carded for it, nor do I have an affinity for syrup.  That said, Jager always tasted a bit like my childhood Nyquil...

anon
anon

You used to be able to get the pure DXM version of robi,  circa 98-2000.  good times i think.

Britt
Britt

I like the flavor of TUSSINEX you get from doctor, it seams to work the best too.

Ginny Braud
Ginny Braud

I always like that orange triaminic shit...OR DIMETAPP. My mom would have to pull the dimetapp bottle away from me....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm purple.

Ed T.
Ed T.

Too bad that Ugly Chris couldn't concoct up some Miracle Tablet that made this stuff taste like something other than a random mix of industrial chemicals. Who knows - maybe that will be the theme of next week's QuickFire Challenge?

Ed T.
Ed T.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make us a mixture of Coca-Cola, lemon juice, and honey. It didn't cure the cold any faster, but it sure did help cut through all the mucusy crap and the sore throat.

Sean Beck
Sean Beck

I've always found Theraflu to be extremely disgusting.  

Patrick McKinnion
Patrick McKinnion

Complete and total wimp.   Do a taste of Buckley's Cough Remedy, and get back to us.

I've never found anything that worked better.

Or tasted worse.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I don't know about cough syrups, but Sambucol, which is elderberry extract, tastes yummy and is supposed to help your body fight the cold virus. :)

William Philpot
William Philpot

Recreational use isn't done straight like a shot at a bar. You have to mix it up with some Sprite, slush it around until the thick syrup has thinned out some, then put it in a nice cold cup of ice. So I heard.

But yeah, if sick I go for the Alka Seltzer style cold and flu stuff.

Megan
Megan

You're supposed to be so stuffed up that you can't taste it.  Also, original NyQuil reminds me of black licorice.  My husband will only take cherry NyQuil (or whatever generic equivalent I buy him at the store).

KING
KING

Maaan, hold up. This article would function so much better in Rocks Off under the Ask A Rapper headline.

Matthew
Matthew

i'd guess the codeine assuages any bad taste.

RW
RW

The last time I had a cold I bought a homeopathic honey cough syrup from Whole Foods. It was the best tasting cough syrup I've ever tried.

Christine Ha
Christine Ha

I'm wit you on the sizzurp gag reflex. Robitussin was always the grossest. Have you tried Delsym grape flavor? My Pharmacist friend recommended it, saying it was the most effective OTC syrup. I was surprised to find that the night-time grape flavor was also quite delicious. Their daytime flavor is orange and not quite as good but still tolerable. Check them out.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

Seriously, try this next time, and say I'm wrong.  I'll give you $20-50 based on your answer if I'm wrong, but it's like my hiccups solution.  I tend to be right more often than wrong.

Mag
Mag

For me it was a shot glass of whiskey, lemon juice and honey.  the lemon juice and honey for the cough and the whiskey to sleep.  I still take.  It sure tastes much better than the store cough syrups.

Joseph Mueller
Joseph Mueller

Buckley's...keep a bottle on hand and you'll never get sick again out of fear of having to taste that vile crap again.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Is Buckley's available here in Texas? I've never heard of/seen it, although I fear nothing can be as bad as Delsym.

anon
anon

Yeah, and it's done with prescription cough syrup...promethazine with codeine. The codeine is what makes you lean, which is why they call it lean.

Ed T.
Ed T.

I didn't think you could get the original NyQuil anymore. I'll take either that or the cherry flavored kind over any of this other stuff.

Helen
Helen

Comment of the day, dude. I toast you with my sizzurp.

PS - bronchitis sucks ass

Etcetera
Etcetera

That's because there wasn't any actual medicine in it. :)

Kghoutx
Kghoutx

as someone born in Scotland, I second your remedy.  My dad says you need a "hot toddy and a warm body" - honey, lemon juice,hot water and whiskey - followed by tylenol

anon
anon

you can get it here in texas, though I'd recommend you pinch your nose while taking it...it's what I imagine satan's semen tastes like...

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