What’s New & Weird in Baby Formula, Cars, Beer, Gluttony, and More

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Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Two capsules of the Nestlé luxury baby formula.

I’m not sure why you’d want to buy a beer for a friend—or your dad—on Facebook. But you can now do so. Here’s a roundup of odd and interesting consumer news and trends.
Nestle has come up with a luxury baby formula system called BabyNes, which may sound like an infant sea monster in Scotland, but is actually similar to the now ubiquitous single-server coffee dispensers, only the special “capsules” produce baby milk formula, not java.

Luxury pet products are all the rage, according to the NY Times. Vendors at a recent Pet Expo were selling tons of “human-grade” pet foods including doggie treats that taste like ginger snaps, mini-treadmills (so dogs could get exercise without dealing with the riffraff outside), “mountain spring water” for dogs selling at $3.30 a bottle, and a $28 candle to counter the odor of a flatulent dog.

In what seems like the natural followup to Viagra, the hottest market for tiny, caffeine-packed energy shot drinks like 5-Hour Energy is the aging Baby Boomer. The drinks are now displayed at Costco near the wrinkle cream, and featured in a series of ads with John Ratzenberger (Cliff from “Cheers”) holding a bike and saying that “not having the energy to do the things I enjoy isn’t” fine, per the WSJ.

Minority kids get an average of 13 hours a day of “screen time”—absorbed in front of computers, hand-held devices, and TVs. While Asian, Hispanic, and African Americans are plugged in fro roughly 13 hours a day, white children average 8 hours and 36 minutes.

African American and Latino kids are also far more likely to drink bottled water exclusively—20% do so, compared to 10% of whites.

A new study indicates that working moms are happier with their marriages and home lives when, oddly enough, they’re handling a heavier workload at the office.

Gas prices are still high. But because people expected gas stations to continue charging more and prices actually dipped a bit, drivers have gotten less pessimistic about prices at the pump. In a new Kelley Blue Book survey, more than half of car shoppers anticipate that gas prices will stay the same or drop over the next 30 days. The price of gas is also less likely to affect what car the individual decides to buy.

On the surface, it might seem curious that a car executive would suggest a $1-per-gallon gas tax hike. But that’s what the CEO of General Motors just did.

Despite the concerns about gas prices and fuel economy, American muscle cars (Mustang, Challenger, Camaro) outsold hybrids (Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, etc.) last month.

Job referral rewards normally aren’t frothy. But a San Francisco-based startup called Hipster was so desperate to fill an engineering position—or desperate to get attention—that it is offering $10,000 and a year’s supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon to anyone who helps the company land the right employee.

Why would you want to buy a beer for somebody on Facebook? Probably just because you now can do so. A new app lets you buy a cold one for a friend at T.G.I. Friday’s. One watchdog spokesperson calls the app “horrifying” because it encourages drinking, especially among the young people who’d be most inclined to buy something via Facebook. Speaking as a dad, I think it’s equally horrifying that T.G.I. Friday’s is suggesting that anyone celebrate Father’s Day by purchasing Dad a beer on Facebook.

Seven teenagers really wanted to get the most for the money in a 24-hour all-you-can-eat pancakes deal at a California Denny’s. For $5 each, the teens collectively ate 301 pancakes within the allotted 24-hour period. That’s 43 pancakes and 14,000 calories per person, at a per-pancake price of 11.6¢.

A new study in Australia links drinking lots of coffee with hallucinations. Experiencing a mild “psychosis-like symptom”—seeing and hearing things that aren’t there—is more likely to occur after someone absorbs the caffeine in several cups of Joe. Guess that means that we’re going to have a proliferation of seniors wandering around hallucinating while hopped on caffeine. Let’s keep them away from the Viagra.