Oiling the Snake

Oiling the Snake

 I’ve found myself doing something I hate, trying to convince you good people to buy our gels by using a bunch of buzz words you see in the grocery aisle…

Did you know that our gels are vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, gum free, free of fillers, all natural, organic (not certified yet, we’re working on it…), contain superfoods, non-GMO, made with real ingredients, no stabilizers, soy free, dairy free, BPA-free…(I’m starting to run out of “frees”….), silicate free, melts in your mouth and not in your hands, low glycemic index, no added colors, free of preservatives, fat free (this is one of my favorites. I love how they market Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids as “fat free” because it is pure sugar), cholesterol free, free of trans fats, etc. I’m sure there are hundreds more, and frankly, I’m hoping that listing all of these helps with my SEO and that I rope in more of the voodoo health crowd (welcome voodoo health people, if you’re reading this! Look at all the amazing features of our products! Please buy now!)

Sounds impressive, right? But to be honest, I care very little about any of those “claims” because (with the exception of those that have a legitimate allergy or medical issues with some of the above), they are largely meaningless. In fact, it is absurdly difficult to tell people that something is healthy or natural without using words that have become so watered down and conscripted by “big marketing” that they are meaningless. Even the prior sentence claims that things are “healthy” and “natural”, two words I could use on a box a candy and be allowed to sell. Perhaps you have seen us wrestle with this on our website and our packaging as we describe our products as “made from plants”, “ingredients from nature”, and “our ingredients grow out of the ground”. But it’s true! We take the world’s greatest grains (sorghum) and smash it into a fruit (apples, pineapples, lemons), add a little spice (ginger, cinnamon, salt), and produce a product with 15 vitamins and minerals, whereas our competitors have almost none. I’ve been asked how we managed to get so many vitamins and minerals into our gels, and the dumb, simple answer is that we just use plants that have a bunch of vitamins and minerals in them. It is infuriating to me that the food world has become so convoluted with “health products” that are less healthy than just eating a dandelion out of the crack in my sidewalk….

Okay, okay, one too many caffeine gels this am. This post is getting too sales-y which I promised I wouldn’t do in these things. So a quick plea, and then a history lesson, then I’ll send you on your way (you are still reading this and listening to that obnoxious 40hz binaural beats from last week, right?....). Here is my plea: read the ingredient lists of the foods you eat first. Seriously, ingredients > macros. Don’t look at calories, and fat and protein ratios first, just read the ingredient list. And if you don’t know what one of the ingredients is, research it! Educate yourself! Your brain muscle is the most important muscle you can work in 2023 (except for the glutes… damn you Tik Tok). That ingredient might be amazing but new to you (shout out to sorghum), or it may be terrifying and derived from hooves of baby seals (like all our competitors’ products, don’t check on that, just trust me J ). The ingredient list matters, it really does. I won’t tell you here that everything has to be plant-based, because there are lots of amazing ingredients that aren’t plant based, and some that are plant-based that are literally poison (e.g. cyanide… if you see that on the ingredient list, please call the police right away). But the ingredient list tells you what you are eating, and from that, a person can develop their own, independent sense of how healthy it is, how environmentally taxing it, how far the ingredients might have come from, and maybe even inspire the name of your friend’s daughter (hi Rosemary!). Travis steps down from soapbox.

Now, a history lesson, aka how to oil a snake… the awareness of “snake oil” in the western world showed up in the late 1800s when Chinese railroad workers used oil from Chinese water snakes to treat arthritis and bursitis after I’ve been working on the railroad all the live long day (sorry, so so sorry, I had to do it). Unsurprisingly, and like most health labels when they originate, the product was actually quite effective, as Chinese water snake oil has higher concentrations of omega-3s than salmon (good bye salmon in the fridge, hello Chinese water snakes for dinner!). Americans, looked at this relative effective cure and thought “there is gold in dem der hills”, and proceeded to start extracting oil from rattlesnakes, because they were cheap/free, plentiful, and….. ‘murica? Now, this was beyond a bad idea, partly because rattlesnakes have no omega-3s, and upon further reflection, because they are g%^* d((*n rattlesnakes! So after enough “cousin Cletus”s died, Americans wised up, largely stopped oiling snakes and instead just put whatever they wanted in a jar and sold it as “snake oil” (if this is feeling eerily similar to the supplement and “health” market in the US, it should). And boy were these new “snake oil” recipes something. Recipes would include things like: mineral oil, vinegar, urine, turpentine, camphor, mercury, boar sperm (omg gross), xanthan gum, and sucralose (okay, you caught me, those last two aren’t real, but they are in tons of products you eat all the time!). To think, a quick glance at the ingredient list could have solved a lot of problems (hmmm, think I’ll pass on turpentine and sperm energy shot…..).

The peddlers of these worthless tonics, became known as “snake oil salesmen”, and the rest, as they say, is history. Luckily none of these salesmen made it to any acclaim, wealth or stature and are……...wait, what?! John D. Rockefeller’s father, William Rockefeller, was a snake oil salesman?!! Our entire nation’s infrastructure is built on snake oil seed money?! Okay, Origin Endurance is officially closed… come buy Travis’ Tinctures and Tonics, an “AI-engine” will ask what is wrong with you then send you a tub of magic powder that will fix whatever ails you. Come to think of it, there are a bunch of companies doing that right now (I’m sure you can think of a few). I guess we will just keep slamming plants in athletes’ mouths… J

Sorry for the long ramble. Read those ingredient lists. Appreciate all the support.

See you out there,



A Post-Script for the real fans: I know that these last few posts have had lots of parentheticals (I’m not oblivious (except when I am (life is kind of busy right now))). As penance, I have promised the team to donate $1 to charity for every parenthetical I use in these posts. Which got the team thinking… We really want our product to do good for the world and the people in it. We’ve tried to do that so far by making our products packed with nutrients, and using products that are low impact on the environment, but we also want to make a financial/physical commitment to our future. As we continue to grow, we are exploring things like registering as a B Corp, participating in programs like 1% for the planet, or “one for one” business models. We want the path we choose to be impactful to the planet and meaningful to you all, our customers. If any of you have experience helping companies navigate this, and want to offer some free advice, please email me. And broadly, if you have ideas, causes, or favorite charities that you know of, please, please, please email me (travis@originendurance.com) your suggestions. We are really, really excited about the good we can do in the nutrition space but need your helping landing it in the right place!