Airborne vs. Emergen-C

I’m writing this post with the bitter bitter taste of irony in my mouth. A week ago, I started taking 2-3 servings per day of both Airborne (at work) and Emergen-C (at home) because my wife and kids had colds going on their second week. Wouldn’t you know it, Thursday I wake up with a terrible cold! Here it is Friday and although I’m at work I still feel like crap. But — on to the topic at hand: which is better? Airborne or Emergen-C?

Airborne: Seth Godin would like the fact that it was created by a second-grade teacher, as it makes for a memorable story. It’s a “plop-plop-fizz-fizz” drink in the style of Alka-Seltzer, only you plop one tablet, not two. After a minute you’re ready to drink. Nutritionally, Airborne has the same amount of vitamin C as Emergen-C does, but seems to lack some of the other additives, specifically B vitamins for energy. That probably accounts for the lower calorie count per serving, 10 vs. 25. It tastes fine, if not great, and goes down well.

Emergen-C: This is a packet of powder that you drop into a cup of water. Again, after a minute, you’re ready to drink. Emergen-C has more of a “punch” to the taste, maybe due to added fructose. As I mentioned earlier, Emergen-C has lots of B vitamins for energy. I think they intend to differentiate their product from Airborne by being the “Energy Drink” in addition to the “Immune System Drink”. Biggest gripe with Emergen-C? The powder stays grainy, and I usually end up with a fair amount of undissolved powder at the bottom of the cup.

The winner? I have to hold off on a final conclusion. Assuming that there is no difference nutritionally, Airborne is the clear winner for taste and ease of use. However, I wonder if the addition of the B vitamins (and other items) to Emergen-C doesn’t add something very useful.


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