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