Jello Shots: They Seem So Harmless. Even Rats Like Them.

A tray of gelatin shots prior to refrigeration
Image via Wikipedia

So it’s the Halloween weekend, which means that a number of adolescents will be overindulging in orange and black jello shots.

Before we turn our backs on this carnage of brain cells, it’s interesting to think about the idea that rats don’t like alcohol.  You have to deprive them of food and water before they imbibe.  But if you put the alcohol into a jello shot, they will spontaneously start munching.

So human beings, especially those that like alcohol, are at huge risk for overindulgence.

It’s bad enough that this Holiday celebrates dyes and candy (how does that relate to the spirits?)  Can we not make it another excuse for debauchery?  Remember, jello shots and small children with dark costumes don’t mix well.  Stay home if you must indulge.


Subst Use Misuse. 2011;46(6):828-35. Epub 2010 Dec 21.

Jello shot consumption among older adolescents: a pilot study of a
newly identified public health problem.

Binakonsky J, Giga N, Ross C, Siegel M.


Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of
Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


We investigated the extent of jello shot consumption among underage
youths. We conducted a pilot study among a nonrandom national sample of 108
drinkers, aged 16-20 years, recruited from the Knowledge Networks Internet
panel in 2010 by using consecutive sampling. The prevalence of past 30-day
jello shot consumption among the 108 drinkers, aged 16-20 years, in our sample
was 21.4%, and among those who consumed jello shots, the percentage of alcohol
consumption attributable to jello shots averaged 14.5%. We concluded that jello
shot use is prevalent among youths, representing a substantial proportion of
their alcohol intake. Surveillance of youth alcohol use should include jello
shot consumption.

PMID: 21174500

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Nov;85(3):562-8. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

Brain ethanol levels in rats after voluntary ethanol consumption using
a sweetened gelatin vehicle.

Peris J, Zharikova A, Li Z, Lingis M, MacNeill M, Wu MT, Rowland NE.


Department of Pharmacodynamics, University of Florida, Gainesville FL
32610 USA.


A novel procedure for initiation of voluntary ethanol consumption in
the rat was evaluated in terms of ease of initiation, consistency, and
resulting brain ethanol levels. The “jello shot” consists of 10%
ethanol in gelatin along with a caloric source (Polycose). Initiation of
“jello shot” consumption in Sprague-Dawley rats required no food or
water restriction and resulted in initial daily (8.4+/-0.6 g/kg body weight)
and eventual hourly (1.1+/-0.1 g/kg body weight) intake of ethanol comparable
to other procedures using either alcohol-preferring or non-genetically selected
rats. Rat intake of ethanol via “jello shots” recovered quickly from
environmental alterations and surgical implantation of a guide cannula. During
1-h free access sessions, consumption of the “jello shot” occurred
during the initial 10 min and resulted in a dose-related increase in ethanol
levels in nucleus accumbens measured using microdialysis. These brain ethanol
levels were comparable to those achieved using other self-administration methods.
However, when 0.5 g/kg ethanol was gavaged either in “jello shot” or
saline, there was about a 20% decrease in brain ethanol concentrations after
gavage of the “jello shot” compared to saline. Even so, lack of a
need for initial food or water deprivation and the rapidity with which stable
self-administration can be achieved both suggest utility of the “jello
shot” as a completely voluntary ethanol procedure.

PMID: 17140644


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