Today we look at rumors of a new kind of meth called “Strawberry Quick” that looks like Pop Rocks and tastes like strawberry and is being targeted toward children.
This is generally regarded as a hoax, but details are convoluted, and the story appears to be influenced by the existence of strawberry-flavored cocaine, which is real.
Let’s take a look at a variation of the warning which has been circulating online for about six years:
…There is a drug going around the schools …It’s known as Strawberry Quick …or strawberry meth …it looks like pop rocks that kids eat, smells like strawberries &… also comes in other flavors like chocolate, etc….. Please tell your children not to take candy from anyone even a classmate because this drug that looks like pop rocks is actually crystal meth rocked up with strawberry flavor & can kill them :'( …PLEASE RE POST!!! So all parents are aware of this ……Thank You! This is happening all over the country… :(..
There are slight variations of the warning above, and two different graphics have been circulated along with it.
2006: Precursor to the Rumor
A year before the strawberry meth rumor began, TMZ reported that a new trend in Hollywood was use of strawberry-flavored cocaine. It was also noted that flavored cocaine had been around at least since the 1980s. TMZ wrote, “Law enforcement sources tell TMZ that strawberry flavoring is added to the drug to give it its fruity flavor.”
We were able to locate several news reports in the 1990s of cocaine seizures including flavored varieties of the drug.
Origins of the Hoax: The Original 2007 Report
Four months after the TMZ report came the first report regarding strawberry meth in January 2007 from Carson City, Nevada:
A new kind of methamphetamine that has a strawberry flavor and bright pink coloring was seized for the first time in Carson City during a search of a Como Street apartment on Saturday, an official said.”(We are) concerned that this new type of meth will be more attractive to a younger crowd and may surface in schools,” said Sgt. Darrin Sloan, commander of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Team. “Parents and teachers, please be aware of this new kind of drug that is making its way into our culture.”
2007: The Rumor Spreads
After the above bust and accompanying warning were made public, the Strawberry Quick hoax was born. The warning spread from community to community without any evidence that it was happening on any large scale. DrugFree.org contacted the Carson City sheriff’s office to confirm that it was strawberry-flavored meth. The office could not confirm whether the meth was flavored or simply colored.
Below is a news report from the Carson City area which issued a warning about strawberry meth shortly after the bust.
A response to the strawberry meth rumor was issued in 2007 by DrugFree.org, which stated:
Flavored meth is somewhat akin to the Loch Ness Monster: everyone has heard of it, but firsthand sightings are hard to track down and verify. Various media reports around the U.S. have raised the alarm about the dangers of this new drug, but invariably concede that no cases have been reported locally.
2008 Flavored Cocaine Bust
A high-profile bust in 2008 reported that flavored cocaine had been seized. It is possible that this story helped fuel the strawberry meth rumor which had been spreading for about a year at this point. The DEA press release stated:
Some of the seized cocaine includes flavors such as strawberry, lemon, coconut and cinnamon. The arrest and search warrants were served without incident. The street value of the cocaine seized in this investigation is estimated to be approximately $272,400.
“Attempting to lure new, younger customers to a dangerous drug by adding candy ‘flavors’ is an unconscionable marketing technique. Cocaine is cocaine and jail time is jail time, no matter how you flavor it,” stated DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gordon Taylor.
In January 2009, Arkansas officers reported finding strawberry-flavored children’s drink mix alongside materials used to make meth. William Bryant, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Little Rock district office told CBS that it was “not widespread.” It wasn’t confirmed if the strawberry mix was actually added to meth.
2010 DEA Response
The strawberry meth rumor surged again in early 2010 and DEA spokesman Michael Sanders responded (as reported here by Claire Galofaro):
Still, Sanders said, the DEA has never heard of anyone adding strawberry flavoring to meth, and are not aware of any children admitted to hospitals in dire condition because of it. He noted that on at least one occasion they found colored meth, but determined that the person cooking it added the dye to skirt law enforcement rather than lure kids.
“Parents do need to worry about their kids using meth [and other drugs: the gateway drugs are marijuana and pharmaceuticals], even if it isn’t flavored,” DEA spokesman Michael Sanders said in an e-mail. “The idea of manufacturers and traffickers luring kids with candy-flavored drugs may capture the public’s imagination, but plain old meth is bad enough.”
In late 2012, a photo of a flyer posted by a doctor’s office in Jacksonville, Illinois included the strawberry meth warning and was circulated heavily online. This prompted the response of Jacksonville, Illinois police chief Tony Grootens, who claimed it was “likely a hoax” and that his department had never encountered such a drug.
There has been no evidence that meth of any color or flavor has been specifically marketed to children. Flavored cocaine has been found and suspected to be targeted at younger drug users, and not specifically children.
It isn’t clear if there has ever been a verified case of strawberry-flavored meth. Pink-colored meth does exist, as does strawberry-flavored cocaine. Strawberry meth – if it even exists – isn’t widespread and children are not being targeted.
The most likely scenario is that pink-colored meth was mislabeled as strawberry-flavored in 2007 Carson City bust. This was perhaps influenced by reports of strawberry-flavored cocaine, and ensuing warnings of “strawberry-flavored meth” were premature.
- Hollywood’s New Fruit Addiction (TMZ: September 24, 2006)
- Strawberry meth seized in search (F.T. Norton, Nevada Appeal: January 28, 2007)
- Meth Ado About Nothing? Flavored Meth and Cheese Heroin Stories Smack of Fearmongering (DrugFree.org: June 22, 2007)
- Designer Cocaine-Candy Flavored Drug Seized in Undercover Investigation (DEA: March 10, 2008)
- Candy-Flavored Meth Targets New Users (Jon Gambrell, CBS News: February 11, 2009)
- Officials say e-mail claims of ‘strawberry’ meth little more than urban legend (Claire Galofaro, WJHL: January 22, 2010)
- Facebook Hoax Concerning Jacksonville Area (Dewitt Daily News: December 14, 2012)