Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Somewhat Less Than Successful Attempt at Home-Made VIP

According to my wife, I have too much time on my hands. I'd told her that I wanted to make some VIP for the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF).

If you don't know what VIP is, I can explain, but to do so, I need to do major spoilers on the Rock Hudson Doris Day film, Lover Come Back. You've been warned. In the film, Rock and Doris work at competing advertising firms. Rock gets clients the old-fashioned way, by getting them laid. Doris has a radical new-fangled approach, trying to sell the product, but she usually loses out to Rock's tried and true methods.

When Doris loses a new client to Rock, she vows to get even by bringing him before the Advertising Council for his unscrupulous practices. Her star witness is Rebel Davis (Edie Adams), one of Rock's good time girls. To keep Rebel in line, Rock makes up a fake product, VIP, and films some television commercials with Rebel as the VIP girl. Rock Hudson's boss (Tony Randall) is the ineffectual head of the advertising firm he inherited from his father. Effectively, Rock Hudson runs the firm. When Rock is away, Tony Randall makes a command decision. He runs the bogus commercials that Rock had filmed. 

The advertising campaign works and orders for VIP start coming in. Unfortunately, they don't have a product to sell, and this is just what Doris would need to expose Rock's shady dealings. They decide that they just need to invent a product to sell as VIP. They hire Dr. Linus Tyler, a genius scientist who is also a bit of a trouble maker, to invent something they can sell as VIP.

Through circumstances, Rock Hudson masquerades as Dr. Tyler and attempts to seduce Doris Day. Lover Come Back is after all a Rock Hudson Doris Day movie. Of course, Doris learns the truth about Rock (and VIP) right before she about to go to bed with him. She goes to the Advertising Council to bring charges against Rock for selling a product that doesn't exist.

Just in the nick of time, the real Dr. Tyler shows up with what he's been working on, VIP, a pleasant ten-cent candy, but it turns out this no ordinary confection. Dr. Tyler describes it as:
... a triumph of advanced biochemistry. Looks like candy, tastes like candy, goes down like candy, but it enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol. Each one to these [piece of VIP candy] is the equivalent of a triple martini. 
And that was my brilliant hair-brained scheme, make some reasonable facsimile of VIP for TCMFF. My wife may be right. I do have too much time on my hands. I did a little research. It turns out, there is a product called, Wilton Candy Melts. These are small candy ingots that you can melt and mold into candy shapes.  You can find them at Micheals and Party City. They have a mild vanilla flavor, so you can easily add your own flavor. 

To do peppermint candy, you would add about 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract for a 12 ounce bag of candy melts. Now, peppermint extract is peppermint oil in almost 100% pure alcohol, but 2 teaspoons is a very small amount. If I did the math right 2 teaspoons of pure alcohol is roughly equivalent to half a shot hard liquor. Technically, yes. If you ate enough of it, it would be like having a drink, but you'd have to eat a whole lot (like a pound and a half) to get the equivalent of one drink. I'm thinking the aftereffects of eating a pound and a half of candy is not worth the intended effect of having a drink. 

Now, I know what you're thinking, doesn't alcohol burn off when you cook it? Well, yes and no. Alcohol will burn off (evaporate) when you cook it. Alcohol boils at a lower temperature (173°F) than water (212°F), but if you boil water, it doesn't immediately evaporate. Likewise, if you melted Wilton Candy Melts, added alcohol, and removed from the heat as soon as it was mixed, very little of the alcohol would have a chance to burn off. 

Still, the equivalent of one drink per a pound and a half of candy isn't even close to what VIP was in the movie. Peppermint extract though alcohol based was not the answer. I thought maybe peppermint schnapps would work. Most hard liquor is 80 proof. Peppermint schnapps varies from liqueur strength (about 60 proof) to Rumple Minze and a couple other brands (about 100 proof). I got some and tried my first experiment. I took a half a cup of Wilton ingots and a quarter cup Rumple Minze. This breaks down to roughly the equivalent of two shots of hard liquor to half a cup of candy, making enough to fill all six sections of the candy mold I bought. 

Home-made VIP, roughly the equivalent of 1/3 of a
normal alcoholic beverage; you taste every drop of booze
The result of this attempt is pictured to the right. It is a very large mint patty, about a half inch thick, not even close to wafer thin, and two inches in diameter. Though you do taste the mint what you mostly taste is booze. As I write this, the ones we didn't eat last night sit on a table. I can smell the alcohol from about four feet away. The VIP from Lover Come Back is described as quite tasty and unusually refreshing. These things are kind of like eating a small hockey puck made out of dried cake icing and mint flavored booze. 

I will continue these experiments. After all, I do have too much time on my hands, but ultimately I will have to admit that I am not the genius that Dr. Linus Tyler is. This country will have to continue without what Dr. Tyler says it has long needed:
... a good ten-cent drunk


  1. Ha! I LOVE this movie and have always wondered about the feasibility of VIP.

    Aren't there powdered alcohol products these days? Wouldn't that be easier? have too much time on your hands.

    Lesley/Second Sight Cinema

  2. Actually, I didn't know that such a thing as powdered alcohol existed until you mentioned it. I did some research. Powdered alcohol seems to be in limbo. The ATF approved it, but then almost immediately retracted it saying they needed more study. In the meantime, many states are moving to ban it including California as of January. Plus, looking at the pictures online, it seems like the amount of powder to make a single drink seems to be more than would fit in a reasonable-size mint.