A little more than a week before Super Bowl 50 trolled the nation with the Carolina Panthers’ imploding offense and #Puppymonkeybaby, the I read an Associated Press report about a small coffee company based in Upstate New York that snagged a 30-second advertisement spot during the big game. Death Wish Coffee — the purported makers of “the world’s strongest coffee” — won a small business competition put on by Intuit QuickBooks. As a result, the software conglomerate produced the 11-person company’s ad and paid for its commercial airtime during one of the year’s most-watched television programs.
The news about the ad and the ad itself, which aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl, informed millions of non-Upstate New Yorkers about its 200-percent-more-caffeinated-than-regular-coffee brand. But by the time I stumbled across the AP article announcing the spot — which featured a viking ship struggling against a stormy sea and soaring down a waterfall into a coffee drinker’s mouth — I’d already pitched this article to my editor. Why? Because my girlfriend had mistakenly posted a meme about Death Wish Coffee’s frightening product on my Facebook news feed, and being the at-least-one-pot-a-day guy that I am, I wanted to try out a cup of the stuff for myself.
The indirect, three-way conversation between my editor, my girlfriend, and me went a little something like this:
ME: I HAVE TO TRY THIS.
GIRLFRIEND: Please don’t do this to yourself.
EDITOR: This is amazing! Do it! But yeah, don’t hurt yourself.
ME: I LOVE COFFEE.
GIRLFRIEND: Please don’t die.
EDITOR: I’m so stoked! Seriously, though, don’t die. Lawsuits are a nightmare.
Was I actually supposed to be worried? Just because the coffee’s name implied that its makers were in touch with their mortality didn’t necessarily mean that anyone would (or could) die from drinking the stuff. And considering my daily average for coffee consumption, I figured my body already possessed a well-fortified resistance to whatever Death Wish Coffee might throw my way.
Even so, I decided to dig a little deeper into the notion of “caffeine overdose” before diving into my first pot of Death Wish.