Lately, my source of caffeine at work has been Scho-Ka-Kola. Half a tin of this stuff gives you a little more caffeine then a cup of coffee. If taken first thing in the morning, it can make a bad day a lot better. Since I try not to get too hooked on caffeine, I limit myself to two times a week (i.e. one tin). I am a little ashamed of this given the cost but I have not got up the willpower to kick the habit yet.

I first discovered this heavily caffeinated dark barely sweetened (the description calls it bitter but I think that is over-selling it) while searching for a source of contingency caffeine. The idea was to find something that I could take when I had been dragged through 20 miles of the high peaks by people younger and in better shape then me only to leave long past bedtime with nobody in my vehicle who could stay awake enough to drive. Being a history nerd, I thought that chocolate that the Germans issued as part of their “Iron Ration” might fit the bill but who still made that?

A quick internet search indicated that the stuff was still made but at first my research indicated that it is way to expensive for anything other then a novelty. On Amazon it sells for $9.96 a can. But for some reason Varusteleka (a company in Finland of all places and the link at the start of this post takes you there) can sell it for $3 a can if you buy 10 at time. At first the goal was only to try some to see if it was worth keeping around for contingencies but I got hooked on it and so now it has become a twice weekly habit. The primary advantage for me stems around how lazy I am and the fact that I don’t like coffee.

What would happen before Scho-Ka-Kola is that I would try to make myself a cup of tea. Odds are, I would not be able to do that first thing in the morning because I would be too busy. Then I would get some time to heat up some tea in the microwave and then I would get busy again. The microwave would be forlornly beeping at me and annoying the office assistant who was closer to the microwave then I was. Eventually I would get the tea and work on it between crisis. Most of the time I would drink the bulk of my tea cold and often later then when I wanted to get my caffeine in me.

With the Scho-Ka-Kola, I can wolf down half a tin down while reading emails and in a few hours my whole day will be better (I don’t metabolize anything fast). Varusteleka will tell you that it is “Not recommended for children, pregnant women, or those with a high sensitivity to caffeine” and I normally consider myself highly sensitive to caffeine. But if you drill down into the numbers, a tin of Scho-Ka-Kola has 200mg of caffeine in it. According to my sources, an average cup of coffee has 95 mg of caffeine in it. So if you only eat half a tin per day you are barely getting more caffeine then by drinking 8 fluid ounces of coffee. In other words, Varusteleka is overselling the caffeine just like they oversell the bitterness of the chocolate. That is all right for me. I don’t need it any stronger then it is. But I suspect that people who drink a couple of cups of coffee a day would find that it is pretty lame fare.

For my purposes, Scho-Ka-Kola is pretty much perfect except for the price and the tins. At a $1.50 a day, there are much cheaper ways of getting the same amount of caffeine. As for the tins, they are awesome but it seems like a shame to throw them out. And if you use a can a week, soon you have so many cans you don’t have much choice. I would rather it come in a cardboard box and be cheaper over all then come in the tin. But these issues have not been a deal breaker for me so far and I suspect that I will keep buying it until it gets so expensive I can’t stomach it or the supply dries up. It just works so much better for my life and tastes buds then all the alternatives that I am aware of.


This is the link.

Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the ‘best by’ date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor. You’ll know when you open the package if the food has lost quality. Many dates on foods refer to quality, not safety. See FSIS’ Shelf-Stable Food Safety fact sheet for more information.

This thing about “if it is past it sell date throw it out” probably applies to open stuff or easily spoiled stuff like milk, but otherwise the sell by date is more a product of lawyers and not science. Often times it is a reflection of how far they have data for as opposed to when they know it will be bad. For example, Mountain House was only allowed to advertise that there food was good for 20 years after they had stored the food for 20 years and then tested it in a lab to see if nutrition data still met the claims on the packaging. Other sellers of similar products don’t say there food is good for 20 years and I am going to guess that is because of lack of data and not because there is some magical difference between different types of freeze dried foods.

In any case, you would not eat food that tasted/smelled bad just because the packaging said it was still good and you should not throw out food that tastes/smells good just because the date says it is bad.

Links For Today


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