Flavored Cough Syrup...

As a lad, our pharmacist in Cleveland came up with some prescription cough syrup that was orange flavored. Wonderful stuff! Never seen it since we moved back to Philly in 1967, though…


Any reader of Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series (Clan of the Cave Bear, etc.) will be treated to an agonizingly detailed description of various herbs and plants used for medicines, including willow bark tea for pain (which led eventually to aspirin) and cherry bark for cough.

I think you’ve implied the wrong antecedent for “As a lad” here.
Powers &8^]

He was a precocious tyke. :smiley:

However, feel free to substitute “When I was a lad,” et cetera. :slight_smile:

Your pharmacist probably flavored his concoction orange to distinguish it from his commercial competitors, which were likely cherry-flavored.

An update and a cautionary tale: Since I wrote this in 2008, I quit smoking, so I don’t have the same nasty colds anymore, nor do I have smoker’s hack. (I do have a residual cough because my lungs are healing, but that’s managed with an over-the-counter antihistamine, not with cough syrup.)

Here’s the cautionary tale. Last year, my husband developed a nasty cough. He assumed it was just allergies and kept swigging cold medicine, but the cough became severe enough that it sent him to the urgent care center, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. It took him over a month to completely recover, but if he had seen a doctor sooner, he probably would not have gotten that bad. So the caution is that if your cough won’t go away on its own, or if you’re coughing up blood or something else abnormal, please please please see a doctor. You may have a more serious disease that should be properly diagnosed and treated.

Several months ago, I was looking for Buckley’s Mixture, a Canadian preparation that tastes really bad (and even says so in its advertising! :p) but wasn’t willing to pay $35 to order it online.

That stuff WORKS.

Congratulations, MsRobyn, on kicking the nasty tobacco habit!

I myself am just recovering now from another nasty bronchitis blow-up that had me in the ER December 28-30. (Dopers will remember I did all this two years ago, too.) I waited 4 days while it just got worse and worse before I called for an ambulance to come and take me away. My lesson, which I’m still trying to work on with my primary care doc, is to have an emergency action plan in place, by which I can get myself into urgent care a lot quicker than that when this happens from now on. (I belong to Kaiser. Wish me luck with that.) They shot me up with IV methylprednosolone every 6 hours (that’s like Prednisone on, er, steroids) then sent me home with Prednisone pills.

Since Straight Dopers like knowledge - I thought I’d chime in. I’ve worked for many years in the food business in marketing and new product development. From a flavour perspective there are specific flavours that tend to be best at masking specific other flavours. I haven’t worked in the OTC pharma. business, but my guess is “cherry” flavour best masks the taste of the drugs in the cough syrup. If I was marketing a new syrup, I would want to differentiate it with a unique flavour, but I suspect that’s hard to do as effectively as cherry. It’s probably simple as that.

I do have experience in other food categories: I led product development at a large tier 1 company that made protein bars. You may have noticed that virtually all protein bars are made with chocolate and peanut varieties foremost. (“Cecil - Why do all protein bars come primarily in chocolate and peanut flavours?”)

Yes, these are popular flavours, but the reality is that protein has a very distinctive aftertaste most people dislike. Once you get past 12g to 13g of protein per bar, the bars are inedible for the average person (try one of the “30g of protein” bars and you will taste what I mean). People that are big into fitness and weight lifting will either eat the bar in spite of the taste a few develop a taste for it over time (my daughter trains daily and has come to like the protein aftertaste). Our research found that less than 5% of the general population actually “liked” the taste.

Our company was targeting the broader public and masking the aftertaste was crucial to acceptance. It happens chocolate and peanut are the most effective protein “taste maskers” we found. My team tried many many options. My goal (failed) was to differentiate us from the rest of the chocolate and peanut varietieswith unique flavours.

The first two varieties we launched were chocolate peanut butter and chocolate fudge. We eventually followed it with some fruit based varieties, but they were never as popular as the chocolate & peanut flavours. In focus group taste tests people always noticed the protein aftertaste in the non-chocolate. The chocolate varieties were about +85% of our sales.

I’m not a food scientist, (although I’ve worked closely with them), and I don’t know the science & mechanics of human taste and why this is so, but it definitely is the case.

Link to the article, please?

Why are most cough medicines cherry-flavored? Turns out it’s a column by our own **SDStaff MsRobyn **.

As the dad of a couple of small boys (1 and 4 yrs old), I was a little surprised to find out that a lot of medications can be flavored by the pharmacist, and that they have a menu of about 6-7 flavors (cherry, watermelon, bubble gum, orange, grape, are all ones I recall, and there were a couple more).

So your kid gets an ear infection and is prescribed amoxicillin clavulanate, he can get it in watermelon if you so choose.

I suspect your pharmacist probably just learned that his customers preferred orange to cherry for that particular product.

Delsym and its knock offs are delicious orange flavored cough syrup.

One additional problem I’ve discovered, making herbal cough syrup (and yes, I include wild cherry bark, which doesn’t taste even a little like cherry) is that if your medicine tastes too good, or just too different, people think it won’t be as effective, so it isn’t. I use vile cheap blackberry brandy as my preservative now, because with plain brandy, my cough syrup didn’t taste cough syrupy enough for some people.