Can a Lollipop Cure Hiccups?
A Connecticut teen’s invention uses candy to combat hiccups
Mallory, 13, is currently getting her new company up and running. (Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times / Redux)
In the summer of 2010, Mallory Kievman had a stubborn case of hiccups. She tried every cure she had ever heard of—gargling salt water, drinking water upside down, and even sipping pickle juice! Now, almost two years later, she has perfected a cure of her own: the Hiccupop, a hiccup-stopping lollipop.
Mallory, now 13, started out by doing a lot of research on hiccup cures. She learned about experiments from the 1970s—such as testing sugar on the back of the tongue as well as experimenting with cats—that tried to determine why hiccups occur.
The new Hiccupops are a combination of Mallory’s favorite hiccup cures—lollipops, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. After testing 40 different batches of hiccup-stopping lollipops, she finally found a stable formula.
“It triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc,” Mallory tells The New York Times. (A reflex is an automatic action.) “It basically overstimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup.”
Hiccups are uncontrollable twitches that occur in your diaphragm, a muscle across the bottom of your rib cage. This reflex usually stops on its own after a few minutes, but occasionally it can last much longer. For most people, hiccups are not a big deal, but they can be uncomfortable and annoying if they last a long time.
Last year, Mallory’s Hiccupops won a prize in the Connecticut Invention Competition, a contest for kid inventors.
As part of her prize, a group of lawyers will file a patent on her behalf. A patent is a set of documents that say an inventor created something. The patent gives that person the exclusive, or only, right to make the invention.
At the contest, Mallory met Danny Briere, a businessman who is helping her set up a new business selling the Hiccupops. A team of business school students from the University of Connecticut is also helping Mallory market and sell the Hiccupops.
Mallory hopes that nurses around the country will keep her invention on their shelves. The hiccupops may be useful to cancer patients, who can suffer from continual hiccups as a result of their treatments.
What advice does Mallory have for other young entrepreneurs, or business people? She says in an interview: “Carve out a lot of time. And keep pushing for it. If you know you want to do it, you know there’s a specific goal in mind, don’t take no for an answer.”