As part of my biweekly, ritual self-torture known as Circuit Training, I usually stop at a convenience store on the way to the track to pick up a Gatorade and protein brownie to get me through the anguish of the workout. It's about this point that I would go on a tangent and exalt the glory of the protein brownie, but now is not the time. I'm here to tell you about air. Canned air. No, not air in a can for cleaning your computer. Nope, this is air for human consumption. Can is to air as bottle is to water. Canned air. They sell it. I bought it. Air.
A few weeks ago, I was at the Circle-K checkout counter when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a strange orangeish hue emanating from beside the cash register. I turned my head and bared witness to the immense Tang-colored monolith of a can with tribal tattoo patterns and oxen on the label. Actually, there was only one ox on the can, but I've never had the opportunity to use the word “oxen” in a sentence before. What a bizarre pluralization. I'll probably never have another chance to use that word again. Well there, I just used oxen in two sentences (now three!). Let's get back to the story.
At first glance, there was no way of deciphering what was contained within this magnificent work of art. I examined the can from a distance while still waiting for my turn to checkout and observed the price of the perplexing container: $9.99! Yup, whatever magic lurked within this can was worth ten whole dollars. What could it possibly be? A can of this size, color, and ornamentation must surely contain a substance most worthy of the effort put into its creation. As I reached the checkout counter, I immediately snatched the can to further scrutinize its contents.
The can was light, much lighter than you would expect from a can of this size. In fact, I was completely baffled by its lightness. The weight reminded me of those cheap wooden gliders given out at carnivals and career fairs, the ones that you pop out of a sheet and put together. The company that made the can is called The Big Ox, which explains the ox on the label. Below the company name appears the words “Citrus Blast.” I began to deduce that this was some sort of air freshener until I saw “Power of Oxygen” written just beside logo. Citrus flavored air! “How stupid,” I thought.
The giant Big Ox can
I put the can down and had almost turned my full attention back to the cashier until I noticed the top of the can. There was a mouthpiece where you suck the oxygen out of. I've never seen its like before, not on a can, bottle, cup, or any other kind of container. It sort of resembled a mouthguard you would use in football or boxing—maybe it was the orange coloring that reminded me of mouthguards. Regardless, I was 100% sold; I simply had to try out the cool looking contraption on the top of the can. A similar incident occurred when Gatorade first started selling the sport-top bottles. There was nothing I was doing at the time to necessitate a sport-top bottle; I was just gonna go home, sit on my couch, and watch the History Channel. In fact, the normal Gatorade bottles were cheaper, but I just felt an inexplicable urge to use the sport-top. So, I did. I purchased the $10 can of air and was heckled relentlessly by my friend, who was waiting for me in the car, when I unveiled my new prize.
The Power of Oxygen and assorted warnings about refilling the can
Apparently canned air is the one product that Big Ox is banking on since this is the only product listed on their website. Big Ox claims that the can contains 89% oxygen; as a point of comparison the air we breathe contains roughly 21% oxygen. The canned air comes in four fun flavors: Citrus Blast, Mountain Mint, Tropical Breeze, and Polar Rush. Big Ox states that when inhaling their canned air you should be prepared to “revitalize and energize yourself with [sic] of the most innovative new products on the market.” Big Ox's talking point is that supplementing a few breaths of a purer form oxygen will give you an edge over your competition.
After hanging on to the can for a few weeks, I finally decided to test out a Citrus Blast of oxygen during one of my circuit training sessions. It was around midday; the heat was stifling and summer-ish Florida humidity was suffocating. After completing a set and taking a break, I popped open the canister and attempted to read the directions in my fatigued and rickety state. I was hedging my bets on this air since the only drink I brought along was a 16 oz bottle of Gatorade that didn't even contain Gatorade; it had already been finished by my dad and refilled with Brita filtered water. So, all I was left with was lukewarm water that had a peculiar grapelike aftertaste. This can of air was my only hope at a quick recovery for the next set.
Me sweaty, tired as hell, and trying to read the directions
After figuring out how the contraption works, my long awaited moment of using the mouthpiece had arrived. The technique of using the can is a little tricky for those not experienced at doing whip-its. I finally got the hang of it, took a deep breath of the oxygen while pressing the button, exhaled the air and…nothing. I waited a few seconds and decided to try again. I took another deep hit of the oxygen and, once again, I was still as shit-tired as I had been a few moments earlier. “Maybe if I let it sit for a few minutes, the oxygen supplement would kick in,” I thought. I let my friend try a hit of the Citrus Blast and, like me, she felt just as shitted-out as before.
Ah! A nice refreshing Blast of Citrus.
I drank a few more swigs of my secondhand grape water and performed another set. This is where the heat of the day really kicked in and beat me down. Following the set, we escaped the sun by resting underneath the bleachers. I was desperate for some energy to perform the final set. I decided if two breaths didn't work, maybe I'll just inhale the whole friggin' can and see what happens. It took about 20 deep breaths to finish off the can. For those keeping score at home, that's roughly 50 cents per breath. Once again the canned air had no effect. In fact, taking so many deep breaths just made me dizzy as hell and nearly made me puke.
Maybe there was something redeeming in the $10 can of air. Maybe the Citrus Blast flavor of the air was so unique and delicious that everyone should try it at least once in their life. Well, unfortunately there's not even that. Oh, there's a miniscule hint of something citrusy in the air. I liken it to eating a Creamsicle and inhaling the fumes radiating from the wrapper when you're done. Only the hit of Creamsicle exhaust would be more potent and the Creamsicle you'd eat beforehand would be cold, refreshing, full of carbs—just what you'd want after running a few miles. Not to mention that a Creamsicle costs less than the price of one breath of Citrus Blast. So there it is, to get an edge on the competition don't supplement with Big Ox's $10 can of oxygen. Eat a Creamsicle.
Better than air!