Hatcher writes op-ed
for Durham Herald-Sun


School of Communications faculty member Anthony Hatcher published a humorous op-ed essay headlined "Capitalizing on the New, Improved Kudzu" in the May 31 edition of the Durham Herald-Sun.

The column takes a satirical look at new research that has indicated that taking the kudzu vine in pill form while consuming alcohol hastens drunkeness. Theoretically, this will decrease alcohol intake, possibly preventing alcohol poisoning. The kudzu research is real; Hatcher's "news stories of the future" are pure speculation.

The essay is below:

A news story out of Boston reports on a study that shows that taking pills made from the ubiquitous kudzu vine can curb binge drinking. The study is similar to one conducted in 2003 at UNC-Chapel Hill. Fewer beers lead to faster drunkenness when mixed with a dosage of kudzu, theoretically reducing the chances of consuming too much alcohol at one sitting. Now that the annoying kudzu plant has been proven to have some actual value, watch for a literal turf battle to take place over who gets to exploit its uses. Some possible future news stories:

MILWAUKEE - Anheuser-Busch released a statement today saying that after July 4 all of the brewery's beers will contain kudzu. "We want college kids to drink responsibly," the company said in a press release. "With kudzu, students will drink fewer beers. Even though that may hit us in the pocketbook, our number-one concern is the health of our consumers." The statement also said that the former large size 40-ounce beer can known as the "40," will now be known as the "80."

TURKEY, N.C. - Scientists from around the country have descended on North Carolina's rural coastal plain in order to harvest kudzu for laboratory experiments, much to the chagrin of local residents. The plant often covers huge swaths of forests, taking on animal shapes, like large topiaries on the roadside. "I like to point out the giraffe, dinosaur and elephant shapes to my little boy as we drive by the woods," said Sarah Little, owner of Little's Chicken Heaven, located on NC 24. "When all the kudzu is gone, there won't be anything to look at, except the trees. My commute is going to be real dull."

RALEIGH - Researchers from NC State University say that, as a land grant university, its labs have dibs on all kudzu growing wild in the state, even though earlier research on the plant took place at UNC-Chapel Hill. "They don't know anything about crops over there," according to Shem Heyboy, associate professor of crop science at NC State. "That's our purview.

"Perhaps somebody over there at the liberal arts 'flagship' university could write a poem about kudzu," Heyboy said, making quote marks in the air with his fingers as he spoke.

WINSTON-SALEM - Executives at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company said today they are making a new cigarette out of kudzu. "It's a natural progression," said P.U. Kanseruss, executive director of public relations for RJR. "We brought tobacco to prominence and helped create jobs to enrich this region, and we should be able to do the same thing with kudzu."

In a related development, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-NC, has proposed a kudzu buyout for Southern landowners.

SEATTLE - Starbucks has created a drink it calls "a refreshing alternative" to the parade of lattes and cappuccinos already on the menu. Kudzu Kola is a fizzy concoction of kudzu extract, Perrier, caffeine, and vanilla flavoring. "We've sold literally dozens of them," says Starbucks spokeswoman Shirley Pompus. "They're extremely popular in Southern states, such as California and Colorado." The drink is available only in grande size, and sells for $7.

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. - Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette, who draws the syndicated cartoon strip "Kudzu" in his home office in this small town, has created a story line for the strip that shows the kudzu plant as a remedy for hangovers. Bootleg copies of the strips are circulating on the internet. Four area writers are claiming in lawsuits, and at cocktail parties, that Marlette's drunken characters are thinly disguised caricatures of them.

CHAPEL HILL - Three fraternities at UNC-Chapel Hill have requested that the university ban kudzu pills from campus. The pills are available free of charge in the University Health Center.

"We are against putting foreign substances in our bodies," said Greek spokesman Biff Barfman. "We consume only natural foods," he said. "You know, like barley, hops, malt, stuff like that."

BEIJING - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today signed an agreement with a foreign supplier to import kudzu tablets from China. "It was simply an economic decision," said a spokesman for the company. "We are committed to keeping prices low for our customers." The kudzu tablets will be placed behind the pharmacy counter, along with pseudoephedrine allergy pills, often used by methamphetamine addicts to make homemade drugs.

Wal-Mart plans to restrict the sale of the tablets to two bottles per customer. "Wal-Mart wants to be a good neighbor," the spokesman said.



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Last Modified:  5/31/05
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