If you’re a child and you’re ill, that’s wicked. Being small and being ill is great. Not proper ill, but like, a bit ill - that’s fun and good.
The reason for this is because when you are ill you finally have an excuse to drink some medicine, baby! You get to have a big gulp of something that is nicer than any food or drink that you are allowed in your day-to-day life - you are allowed to let a smooth globule of pink slime slide down your gullet and gift to you a taste sensation unrivalled in the flavour arena.
Drinking medicine is so much fun, but it is unfortunately usually restricted to small doses - it’s not a top idea to pin a whole pint of Calpol, for example. But just a coupla teaspoons of that sugary nectar, and holy hell, are you on a one-way train to Saliva Town. Kids’ medicine, the tastiest food of them all.
But which is tastiest?
Good job you asked, because here they all are, from your childhood, ranked from grossest to MOST BEAUTIFULLY TRANSCENDENT:
17. Cod Liver Oil
Get yersel tae fuh. What the hell is this absolute nonsense? It’s oil, from the liver, of a cod. Get a cod, take out its liver, and then extract the oil from it and drink it. Put some oil, that’s been in a dead cod’s liver, and put it in your mouth. Well done, you don’t have rickets now.
Absolute farce, the lot of it, gross, sickening farce of the highest and most disgusting order. Giving this to children is the equivalent to killing them.
Powdered drinks are quite good if you are in America, and they are called “Grape Kool-Aid”, but when you are in the UK, and they are called “Dioralyte”, they are not good, they are hateful. This is for two main reasons:
1) When you drink one - particularly if you have the unflavoured variety - it makes you want to violently hock it big style onto your pillows
2) If you are drinking Dioralyte, you are tightly in the tense and unpredictable grip of the “trots”
An all-round unpleasant experience, it must be said - an experience worth suppressing, if at all possible. And considering your current situation, it would be nice to suppress at least something.
15. Milk of Magnesia
This looks nice, because it looks like milk. I like milk, kids like milk, heck, most people have liked milk since they were a baby - and if babies like it, you know that shit’s tasty, cowboy (hello rusks). Thing is, this is not milk. This comes from the udder of no beast, but from a science lab, a scary one that makes fake milk and then forces children to chin it.
This “milk” is advertised as tasting of mint, an ostensibly pleasurable flavour, but think about it: a mint drink. A drink, a liquid, that is just mint. It’s foul, isn’t it? Imagine drinking your milk, and not only is it extra thick for some reason, it also tastes of mint - it all works together to create an altogether entirely unpleasant experience. Milk? My udders!
Look, let’s stick with the lemon-flavoured one here (because the blackcurrant one that was introduced in 1995 wasn’t that bad - had one the other day in fact, for banter), because it’s - how do I put this? - rancid.
Much like a job, Lemsip is extremely difficult to hold down, despite the fact that there’s a comforting pair of hands cradling a steaming mug on the front of the packet; a misleading bit of propaganda intended to make you think glugging back a warm mug of the stuff will be in any way cosy. What an absolute lie - someone call the advertising standards authority! I think the number is 999!
13. SuperTed multivitamins
These were fun and I would request them often and incessantly at the behest of my mother, who knew that should I absolutely deck a whole tub of them I would most likely be a “bit ill”. As such, I was allowed only the recommended daily allowance.
Thing was, the taste of these is hard to justify - they weren’t all that great. They were simply shaped like a superpowered bear, and that was enough for me to want to eat them all day, every day. To fill up a bath with them and eat it right down to the plughole.
Unlike most medicines on this list - this is designed to actively stay in your mouth rather than being swallowed. As such, early production meetings would have been wise to focus on the taste - best not to have a lump of foul-tasting goo stuck to your gums for an hour.
So what did those meetings acheive? Well, they made it taste like goddamn sambuca - the shot that you want to swallow the quickest out of all of them.
Thankfully, a small globule of Bonjela does not contain 40% alcohol, so it is a little easier to handle, meaning the chance for spurting it all out through the gaps in your fingers as you desperately clamp your hand over your mouth is greatly reduced. Unlike it was last Saturday, lightweight.
Now we’re sort of getting into “good” flavour territory. Orange - that’s nice, isn’t it? Like, nobody’s favourite thing is orange-flavoured anything, but it’s a pleasant enough taste. Chocolate Orange - not the best chocolate, but it’s alright. Orange Quality Street - not the best Quality Street, but it’s alright. A literal orange - not the best fruit, but it’s alright. Anyone whose favourite flavour is orange is not to be trusted - your best bet is to jam a steak through their heart, just to be safe.
Anyway: Haliborange - not the best medicine, but it was alright.
Strepsils are a fun thing to suck because they make your mouth and throat feel all funny. They don’t taste that exciting, but they make your tongue do whoopsters, and as a child, it’s all about that kind of gimmick, ain’t it? Popping candy - what is the point of that? Well, it’s to whip up your gob a boing-boing, and that is, I’m afraid to say (and also admit that this very simple pleasure follows you well into adulthood) all that is needed.
So, want to make your mouth go all cold and fizzy and ruin the taste of anything else for an hour? Kick a Streppo into your trap and brace for the squizzy-wizzy.
9. Halls Lozenges
These are very similar to Strepsils, although they possess two main differences:
1) They are a bit less “mediciney”
2) They are a bit more “tasty”
Also, I didn’t feel it warranted an official number 3, but they were also a more interesting shape, which to the simpler humans amongst you (me, absolutely me, I like the way you can put your tongue right into the middle of it), matters with a severity akin to the fraught line between life and death.
The third in this little three-tiered cough lozenge diversion, Lockets are the best ones because when you crack into them, they explode. Not enough to force a jawbone to lodge into a wall or anything, but once the hard outer shell is breached, a gooey splurge of sugary mucus reams into your mouth and the true potential of the cough drop as a concept is revealed. Menthol and honey fill your cavities, and “DAMMIT” you shout, “I AM SO GLAD I DON’T EVEN HAVE A COLD AND AM EATING THESE AS SWEETS.”
7. ANOMALY: Olbas Pastilles
These things are quite disgusting, but have somehow found themselves quite high up the list. How has this happened? Well, it has happened because these terrifyingly strong little hard-nuts are extremely addictive to eat. This is not because of the taste - because as I just mentioned, it is foul - but because of the make-up of the actual pastille itself. For example, think of the chewiest sweet on the market - Rowntree’s Fruit Gums, a sweet many find too hard to enjoy - and then multiply it by a big fat TEN.
This is how chewy these things were - extremely difficult and challenging to eat, and prone to inducing intense jaw-ache. Better eat another one then. Better go through it all again. Test your mettle. The chew is too much to resist. You must chew. Chew to your death.
Chewed a rank lozenge until your mouth fell off
6. Benylin Chesty Cough
Here we go! We are fully in the realm of you-can-only-see-the-whites-of-my-eyes-because-I’ve-just-taken-a-gulp-of-this-and-they’ve-fully-rolled-back-into-my-brain - this is where it all heats up. Oh Ben! Ben Y Lin - what a sugary fellow you are! Climb into my mouth and crawl down my neck - it is your duty to provide me with this taste sensation.
You better believe I could drink Benylin “as a drink”. You see, liquids that you only have a tiny bit of are not usually classed as “drinks”, but I would put enough Benylin into a glass for it to be officially recognised as a drink, and then I would drink it. I would drink it like a glass of milk, complete with a satisfied “Aaahh” at the end, and then a nearby friend would point out my “Benylin moustache” and we would both laugh, me playfully patting them on the back, before fainting and being rushed to A&E.
5. Bassetts soft and chewy
Right, well, these are just sweets, aren’t they? They are shaped like Fruit Pastilles, and they also taste like them. I remember being shocked that these vitamin tablets masquerading as candy had slipped through the net somehow - these were sweets, for kids, but they had stuff in them that you could probably overdose on? Can you overdose on vitamin C? On zinc? Yeah? If you ate a whole packet - like you would some Fruit Pastilles - you’d probably do yourself a downstairs disservice, or at the very least, an upstairs one. Dangerous, yet so very delicious. Like spiders.
4. Pepto Bismol
Oh hello old friend! The classic American taste of the wintergreen plant - or, root beer, basically. A medicine, that comes in a bottle, and tastes like root beer. A recipe for trouble, sure, but also a recipe for lying by saying you’re ill even though you’re not, simply because you must taste the beautiful pink nectar, and you must do it now.
Good trick is to place your head on a hot radiator for ten minutes immediately before sprinting to your parents and complaining of “a temperature”. This of course may lead to you irreversibly scarring your actual face, but hey, you might get a sip of the naughty juice! Worth it!
Nobody can describe the flavour of Amoxicillin, for it is indescribably delicious and tastes like nothing else on this planet. Is it berries? Strawberry? Bubblegum? It all depended on your own unique interpretation of the wondrous goo.
Just an absolute all-purpose medicine - got a headache, have some of this; got an upset stomach, have some of this; hurt your knee, have some of this; snuck into the school nurse’s office and found the stash, have some of this and be discovered an hour later unconscious and grey.
Maybe you don’t remember this, because when you first have it you are very small, like a proper absolute baby and everything. However, if you do remember it, then lucky you, because wooo-weee tiger, this stuff was made of tongue-punching angels. Seriously, consider the following:
Tell me - look me in the eyes and tell me - that you wouldn’t look at something that says “BABY SYRUP” on it and think “Well, obviously that tastes extremely nice. I must drink it immediately until I am violently sick.”
1. CALPOL, BABY! RIP MY GODDAMN CLOTHES OFF AND POUR IT ALL OVER ME UH UH UH UH
I don’t know - just pour this all over me. You know that scene in Flashdance where she tips all that water over herself - that’s me, but it’s Calpol, and then instead of dancing in it, I put the whole audience on edge by kneeling down and just sucking it all up off the stage and wringing my clothes above my head into my open mouth. You could fill up a water bed with Calpol and I’d clamp my lips around the nozzle and empty that stupid bag into my stomach until it split. If there was a slip ‘n’ slide down a hill, but instead of water and washing up liquid, it was Calpol, I would be able to propel myself uphill, from the bottom to the top, just by the power of the suction from my mouth. Yes of course I’m naked. This whole thing is disgusting, a public display of my love for Calpol which will almost certainly get me arrested, but THAT’S HOW TASTY IT IS.
Calpol is the tastiest thing that humans have ever created and I want to replace my blood with it.