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'BORGs' abound at Waterloo St. Patrick’s Day, but what are they?

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A new youth binge-drinking trend was on display in the streets of Waterloo’s university district Friday.

If you looked closely, you could see many St. Patrick’s Day party-goers drinking from something called a ‘BORG.’

WHAT IS A BORG?

Typically mixed and carried in a large gallon jug, ‘BORG’ stands for ‘black out rage gallon.’

The drink is usually made of vodka and an electrolyte drink like Gatorade – a specific mixture aimed at hydration and inebriation.

“It’s kind of the best way to get through your St. Patrick’s Day festivities,” a student who identified himself as John told CTV News on Monday.

The results, according to John and a fellow BORG enthusiast, were mixed.

“If you’re getting some type of water and hydration in at the same time, I guess that’s the idea of helping you out,” John said. “Me and my buddy over there, we kind of passed out and didn’t go out, so I’m not sure it did a great job.”

“It blew up a little bit just because you are staying hydrated and stuff like that,” another student told CTV. “And me personally, I woke up without a hangover and went to work, so it does the job.”

A student holds up a BORG at a St. Patrick's Day party in Waterloo on March 17, 2023. (CTV Kitchener)

WHERE DID THE BORG TREND COME FROM?

The popularity of ‘BORGs’ has spread online, particularly through TikTok.

“It’s all over TikTok right now as a trend to do harm reduction with binge drinking,” said Aimee Morrison, a University of Waterloo professor who studies social media and online trends.

"You can take pictures of yourself with the jug, it became a type of binge drinking for the gram."

Morrison says the concept of a communal drinking experience has been around for decades, but the combination of binge drinking and wellness makes this trend a very Gen Z phenomenon.

“[The idea is] ‘we’re not going to use Redbull, we’re going to use electrolyte water, we want to reduce the negative downstream consequences of this.’ So they are almost flying a flag of personal safety and health, out of what is the same old risk of over drinking,” Morrison said.

ARE 'BORGs' SAFER THAN OTHER FORMS OF DRINKING?

Canada's health guidelines make it very clear that binge drinking is not safe under any circumstances.

“No amount of electrolytes is going to protect you of the effects of alcohol,” Morrison said.

“The jug is very large, you want to be very careful about how much alcohol you put in it relative to other liquids. It’s the dose that creates the poison and it’s very easy to put way to much alcohol in these jugs.”

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