Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Study reveals Fireball whisky never root cause of excessive vomiting

By Morning Wood Staff

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(Garbage Can’t/Morning Wood)

By Loe Toller-Antz

AMHERST – A new study released by the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences has revealed that Fireball Cinnamon Whisky has never been the cause of excessive undergraduate vomiting.

The popular spirit – noted on its website as the whisky that “needs no introduction” ­– was found to have no determinable relation to any instances of bile spewing often associated with excessive alcohol consumption, according to the study.

Fireball whisky, which is 33 percent alcohol by volume, has never been consumed in excessive quantities by UMass undergraduates “because it tastes like candy,” nor has it ever caused students to “yack,” “vom” or “hurl,” the study confirmed.

To complete the study, UMass public health faculty members Jaclyn Daniels, Clark Hennessy and James Beam collaborated with graduate public health students Rebecca Crown-Royal and Evan Williams to survey voluntary participants about their alcohol consumption and specific experience with Fireball at the University.

The professors and graduate students conducted surveys and interviews of approximately 17 thousand people throughout the course of the last nine months in order to get the comprehensive results they were pursuing. Participants consisted of current UMass undergraduates and baccalaureate alumni who received their degrees after 2007, the year the whisky was rebranded from “Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Whiskey” to simply “Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.”

Hennessy, Daniels, Beam and their graduate assistants discuss in the study’s abstract their desire to investigate the rampant rumors that UMass undergraduates regularly overindulge in Fireball whisky (and pay the gastrointestinal consequences).

“We kept hearing these horrendous stories – our graduate TAs would often share them with us, or we’d overhear them ourselves amidst the undergrads – and we wanted to delve into it more deeply,” Daniels said. “The strange thing was that the further we examined this alleged trend, the more we began to realize that the gossip simply wasn’t substantiated by fact.”

Participants in the study were asked about their “poison of choice” at “parties,” “chillax sessions” and during a “typical weekday or weekend,” and were also questioned about whether Fireball had ever been involved in social occasions that resulted in them “blowing chow.”

Responses to the study were varied but united in their near-omission of Fireball. None of the several thousand participants suggested that the particular beverage had a distinct presence in their current or previous undergraduate drinking habits. Roughly 31 percent of participants were adamantly against the notion that they have or had ever associated themselves with the whisky.

“I stayed away from that stuff,” Josephine Cuervo, a Northampton resident who received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from UMass in 2009, said. “And it really never caught on in the party culture. You would never see anyone going through a personal of Fireball. Students simply did not drink it, let alone drink too much of it.”

Testimonials from the interviews indicated that even those students who have drunk Fireball unequivocally refrain from excessive consumption of the whisky and have thus never experienced any form of nausea, heaving, gagging or otherwise projectile expulsion of everything they ate within a given day or evening – all of which had been rumored to be common occurrences among UMass undergraduates.

“I know when to stop with Fireball,” George Guinness, a UMass senior studying theater and English, said. “I’ve never been in a situation in which I just get caught up in that sweet but burning taste and forget that I’ve downed three quarters of the bottle in an hour.”

Angie Orchard, a UMass junior double majoring in economics and sociology, also expressed her historically positive experience with the cinnamon whisky.

“Last year I drank a comfortable amount of Fireball, just enough to feel the slightest buzz,” Orchard said. “It definitely didn’t get anywhere near the point where my friend would’ve had to hold my hair back over the toilet in the second floor bathroom of Brett while I just exhaled spicy puke. No, there’s never been anything like that. I’ve never had any trouble with Fireball.”

In a short addendum to the study, the researchers stated their additional conclusion that the frequent post-weekend strewing of empty Fireball miniature bottles (“nips”) across the UMass campus has no connection with excessive undergraduate consumption of the whisky.

“The most likely case is that students are purchasing the bottles, pouring out the contents and discarding the empties as some kind of periodic practical joke,” Daniels said. “We’re not currently sure why this happens.”

Daniels and her fellow faculty are considering the possibility of a collaborative follow-up study with the public health and sociology departments to determine the root cause of both the “nip” littering behavior and the source of this debunked Fireball rumor mill.

Loe Toller-Antz can be reached in a few minutes. He has to run to the bathroom because he does not feel well. That’s not the smell of cinnamon on his breath. Trust him.

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