Teen seeks to manufacture hiccups cure

(CBS News) Nearly everyone gets hiccups, but there's no foolproof way to get rid of them. But a 13-year-old girl may have the solution - on a stick.

They're called "Hiccupops," and the teen who invented them in her kitchen is pretty confident she stumbled onto something big. In fact, 13-year-old Mallory Kievman hopes to get her potentially game-changing product into every household.

Among the most annoying of bodily functions, the hiccups can also be the most frustrating to overcome. Though there has been no shortage of those willing to share remedies.

Common causes of hiccups include eating too fast, drinking too much, or swallowing too much air. While science is still stumped for a cure, the answer - according to Mallory - could be as simple as a lollipop.

Mallory said she thought of the product when she was having problems with hiccups a few years ago. She said, "Naturally, I wanted them to stop, so I researched some rumored cures for hiccups."

She decided to combine three of the ingredients that halted her own hiccups: sugar, water and an apple cider vinegar mix, and came up with the "Hiccupop." ""The ingredients in the lollipop we found overstimulate a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccups reflex arc," she said.

Mallory has not conducted any scientific studies, but found her confections to deliver relief in about 80 percent of the small group of friends and family who have tried them. So far, she's been whipping up her semi-sweet and semi-sour solution to the hiccup from her kitchen, but is determined to see "Hiccupops" in stores across the country.

She needs market research to support the business. So she met with grad students from the University of Connecticut last week who will spend the summer planning a strategy to better manufacture and market the "Hiccupop."

Christopher Levesque, of the University of Connecticut's Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said the lollipops could turn out to be a "huge deal." He said, "With a 100 percent or roughly 100 percent of incidence rate per year, all Americans having hiccups over the course of the year eight to 10 times apiece. That's a pretty significant market."

Curing the hiccups, however, is not a claim Mallory is ready or even authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make. Mallory's been given advice from the FDA that the lollipops should be made as a candy.

But even as a candy, there are doctors who've expressed high hopes for "Hiccupops." Dr. John Birk, of the University Health Center of Connecticut said, "There are some cases where it might work very nicely. The hiccup itself is a reflex arc and what she is trying to do is break that reflex arc up by sucking on the lollipop and stimulating it with sugar and vinegar and therefore breaking up the reflex arc pathway of the hiccup."

For more on the "Hiccupop" and its potential as a business, watch the full report in the video above.

  • Terrell Brown

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