I do not ah-choose you
Credit: Photo by Kat KInsman

I love TheraFlu. It's like hot Kool-Aid that makes you feel better, and if you dabble in the nighttime formula, it can make you feel kinda fabuloussszzzzzz… what was I saying? Oh yes—TheraFlu. I find this cold remedy so monumentally soothing that if it weren't for all the pesky potential liver damage from excess acetaminophen, I'd have a cup for breakfast and another mid-afternoon. It's got a bright fruitiness with an undertone of menthol in a flavor concentration that's a good deal bolder than a citrus tea is, and like a hot cup of lemonade would be if it weren't viscerally creepy to drink hot lemonade. You're in for a treat if you've got the kind of sniffles and glurge that can be treated by chugging a mug of delicious TheraFlu rather than downing a spoonful of gnarly syrup or swallowing a few joyless capsules. But there's no reason for it to come in a K-cup.

I did a double-take when I heard an ad for TheraFlu Power Pods come on in the other room, and came charging in to back up the DVR. They are just like they sound: disposable K-cups that a cold or flu sufferer can slip into their earth-ruining machine of choice (they're compatible, but not affiliated with Keurig and Mr. Coffee) to brew up a quick cup of medicine-laced water. I'm not a coffee snob by any stretch, but I do have my meager standards and taking the time to make a pot of drip coffee or French press is one of them. But fortune—or at least a diligent PR professional—chose to smile upon me this flu season and I remembered that there was indeed a single-serve Keurig machine in a box under my desk at work. Callooh callay!

Credit: Photo by Kat KInsman

One trip to Rite Aid later (and $16 less flush), I was ready to brew my TheraFlu pods. GlaxoSmithKline both learned things and didn't from Procter & Gamble's Tide Pod fiasco last year and managed to swaddle the actual pods away from fumbling child fingers within colorful pouches that look for all the world like they might contain a glittery, sweet, scrumptious Ring Pop. So it's maybe a wash on the child-proofing front, but these contents are actually meant to be consumed—after a two-minute brew, of course. Plus cooling down time and yeeeoowwwwch—that's the first palpable difference between the Daytime Formula Severe Cold TheraFlu Power Pod and my usual powder-laden paper and foil packet tipped into faucet-hot water. I admit to usually being too lazy or impatient (or possibly just freaking sick) to heat up a kettle to boil, so the machine-brewed medicine was one thousand times more scorching than my usual, and I blistered the tip of my tongue by sipping too fast. Lesson painfully learned.

Aside from that—nada. The experience and effect was indistinguishable from that of a packet, which makes me wonder why, other than having a new format to market, would this product need to exist? It's not of any particular benefit to consumers, other than maybe saving us the labor of dragging out a kettle or pan to heat some water. Rather, it was more expensive per dose (around $2 a pod to a packet's $1.33 at my local drugstore), threw a plastic pod and sleeve into the environment, and required the machine to be flushed through with an additional eight ounces of water to clean it out. A promotional video for TheraFlu Power Pods touts that the product is "faster and more convenient" than I suppose the packets that the rest of us rubes use, but I'm gonna stick with those. I guess I just wasn't meant to be a pod person.