On 1 April 2006, the company ThinkGeek, which specializes in numerous caffeine products, introduced their latest invention: Buzzaire. Buzzaire was a caffeine inhaler, and soon the Internet community was expressing great desire for caffeine inhalers so that they could get their caffeine buzz, a full 150 milligrams in one asthma type inhaler, without having to ingest the stuff. You may already be suspicious given the date of the introduction of caffeine inhalers. Indeed the product was a spoof, never existed and was an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke.
Not everyone was aware of the joke and talk of caffeine inhalers persisted through much of 2006. Included in the lore of these mythical misting products was that Starbucks® planned to release a mint flavored inhaler in late 2006. Those who were wise knew this was an attempt to revise the April Fool’s joke occurring earlier in the year. Much of the talk on caffeine inhalers died down by 2007, though there are still blogging references to them.
Though a joke on the surface, there might be some sense to the idea of caffeine inhalers as used to treat asthma. When a person with asthma is without their inhaler, one recommendation is to drink a cup of strong black coffee, which may help minimize an asthma attack. There’s no clear evidence on whether a real caffeine inhaler would be as effective as a cup of coffee, but it might have some medicinal use.
Just about the only thing that comes close in real life to caffeine inhalers is the medication, caffeine citrate. This medication delivered by IV (intravenous line) has a very serious purpose, very much unlike nonexistent inhalers. It is used in some premature infants to stimulate breathing when apnea (when breathing stops) may occur. Also many of the medications delivered in actual inhalers, especially albuterol, can make people feel shaky and jittery, much like you've had a massive caffeine dose.
The imaginary caffeine inhalers invented by ThinkGeek, though, were not intended for medicinal use. They were meant as a caffeine delivery system that would almost immediately get into the blood stream, and they’re sort of a joke on the way people depend upon caffeine. Who has time to drink a cup of coffee when you can just inhale caffeine instead? You can turn a coffee break into two quick puffs. Perhaps it’s a commentary not only on caffeine dependence but also on the “on-the-go” lives of most people.