Nick & Choose 4: Kinoki Pads

Published Oct. 8, 2008

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Kinoki Dokey
Detoxifying foot pads cleanse you of 20 excess dollars.

I first saw the infomercial for Kinoki pads on a red-eye back from Vegas. After three days of treating my body like a military test subject, I was a quivering vessel of pollutants and pain. I would have clubbed a baby seal with a sack of newborn kittens to feel clean again, and here was the devil in the voice of a cheery spokeswoman extolling the wonders of pads “based on ancient Japanese reflexology” that would ride me of wastes, chemicals and cellulite. Wasn’t really worried about the last one, but I felt the first two in spades. Strapped for cash, the pads went unordered and—with my sputtering hippocampus—were soon forgotten.

The memory resurfaced a few weeks ago when my ex-roomate visited and a friend from Manhattan came to join the ruckus. That Friday we downed IPAs at the Four Winds until close, and Saturday saw a liver blitzkrieg of drinks at Kingston Station, the Hub Pub, Max & Dylans, Silvertone and Lobby. It was a perfect storm of pollution—and the ideal time to see if Kinoki could right our ships.

The Kinoki box ($19.99 at CVS) recommends a two-week cycle with pads on both feet “or other body part” on alternate nights, or on alternate feet every evening. Application is recommended an hour before bedtime, followed by eight to 10 hours of rest, to which my night-owl friend Al remarked, “No crap, if I slept 10 hours a night, I’d feel significantly better regardless.” Undeterred by his cynicism, I stuck a pad to my right hoof and dreamt of being free of thulium, thallium and other elements no doubt responsible for all my life’s failures up to this point.

I’ve got two alarms, and I normally hit the snooze twice on both of them. But that Monday, I was up immediately feeling fairly bushy-tailed. My dupable side attributed this to the once-white pad, now brown and smelling of jerky. My more rational side remained skeptical but began to sway the next day, when my friend Adam e-mailed from his office to say he felt energized as well. This seemed like proof. Time-stamped no less. There are many places one could expect to find Adam at 9 am. His desk isn’t one of them.

Intrigued, I began applying adhesives with reckless abandon—the preferred approach to alternative medicine. I wore two every night. I stuck another on before going to the gym. One evening I even placed pads on my foot and right above my liver. But in the morning, all I had to show was a glowing rectangle of stomach rash. I was expecting my liver to create an inescapable black hole of filth, but the pad remained unsoiled. Something was amiss, so I consulted the Internet. On YouTube, I found a fellow pseudo-scientist with a similar yet converse problem. “I put the pads on my testicles, and the next morning the pads turned black,” wrote scubajenjen. “This would suggest my balls are impure, and they are not!!!” Obviously further testing was needed.

So I spat on ’em. Sure enough, they darkened. Around this time, a friend also directed me to an NPR report that began, “What kind of moron would believe that a toxin-sucking foot pad would really work?” Hey, screw you Sarah Varney of member station KQED. But as she and UC Berkeley scientists discovered, Kinoki is useless; it only takes steam to discolor the pads.

“It’s a scam, man, “Adam concurred later. “One would think after consuming copious adult bevs they would look darker or smell different, but it was the same regardless if you were imbibing or not.” I must agree with my friend and his idiosyncratic diction. Twenty bucks is a lot for a small psychophysical benefit. The smart buy is a case of beer. Even if it’s bad, you’re sure to feel something.

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