Super Troopers is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and written by and starring the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. The film follows five Vermont state troopers as they play pranks on civilians and each other while trying to stop drug smugglers. One of the film’s most iconic scenes involves Farva (Kevin Heffernan) chugging an entire bottle of syrup during a breakfast competition at a local diner. This leads many viewers to wonder – did the actors really drink syrup in that scene, or was it staged with fake syrup? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.
What the Cast and Crew Have Said
The cast and crew have given somewhat conflicting answers over the years about whether real or fake syrup was used for the scene. In one interview from 2001, Kevin Heffernan stated that they used real syrup but only filled the bottles halfway so he wouldn’t get sick. However, in a 2016 interview, director Jay Chandrasekhar said they used bottles filled with flat Coca-Cola to avoid a sugar crash.
Steve Lemme, who played Mac, also recalled in one interview that they tried real syrup at first but it made Heffernan sick, so they switched to a syrup substitute. The property master for the film confirmed this account, stating that they used a combination of real syrup and a non-sugary imitation syrup made from food coloring and water.
So while there is some debate around the details, it seems that real syrup was likely used for at least some of the takes, but a fake syrup was also substituted at times. The sheer volume of syrup consumed in the scene made it impractical (and unhealthy) to only use the real thing.
Examining the Scene Itself
By breaking down the syrup chugging scene frame by frame, we can look for clues as to whether real or fake syrup was utilized.
When Farva first unscrews the syrup bottle and begins pouring it into a glass, the thickness and viscosity of the liquid appears consistent with real maple syrup. It moves slowly and leaves behind a coating on the glass, suggesting it has the syrupy texture we would expect.
However, when Farva begins rapidly gulping down full bottles, there are reasons to be skeptical that this is pure maple syrup. For one, real syrup would likely be far too thick and sugary to consume so quickly without gagging or becoming ill. The liquid appears thinner and less viscous when he drinks straight from the bottle.
Additionally, while maple syrup is sticky and coats surfaces it touches, the syrup does not seem to stick much to Farva’s mustache or face while he drinks it. Real syrup would likely leave behind much more residue and stickiness.
Finally, when Farva finishes drinking the bottles, he often crumples or smashes them. The bottles appear to be lightweight plastic or thin glass that would not typically be used for real syrup packaging.
The Verdict from the Scene Evidence
Based on the questionable viscosity, lack of stickiness, and lightweight bottles, it seems likely that at least some of the bottles and shots of Farva drinking syrup were faked using a non-sugary substitute. However, the initial pouring shot may have used real syrup for close-ups. So the final scene as it appears in the movie was most likely a combination of both real and fake syrup.
Were There Health Concerns from Drinking Real Syrup?
Drinking large volumes of real maple syrup can indeed be unhealthy, risky, and result in a major sugar crash. Here are some of the health concerns the cast may have faced if they only used real syrup:
– Consuming too much sugar at once can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and nausea as blood sugar spikes and then plummets. This “sugar crash” effect would make filming difficult.
– Maple syrup is extremely high in sugars and carbohydrates with very little nutritional value. Consuming high amounts provides empty calories and essentially no nutrition.
– The viscosity and stickiness of real maple syrup could pose choking hazards, especially when drinking fast from bottles as shown in the scene. This could be a safety issue.
– The high sugar content in real maple syrup leads to a heightened risk of cavities and tooth decay. The actors’ dental health may suffer.
– Consuming large amounts of sweet foods can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea because of the abrupt changes in osmotic pressure.
Health Benefits of Moderation
Maple syrup does offer some health benefits when consumed in moderation, however. These benefits would not apply from drinking bottles of syrup rapidly:
– Contains beneficial antioxidants like polyphenols
– Provides some trace minerals like zinc and magnesium
– Substituting small amounts of syrup for white sugar can reduce glycemic impact
– Contains compounds that may help reduce inflammation when consumed in normal amounts
Overall though, any health benefits are negated by consuming high volumes like in the Super Troopers scene. Moderation is key.
The Potential Sticky Mess
In addition to health concerns, the cast and crew would have encountered some very sticky situations if only real maple syrup was used for filming the scene:
– The diner and tables would be left extremely sticky with dried syrup residue. This could attract bugs and vermin between takes.
– Cleaning off the sticky syrup thoroughly from surfaces, props, costumes, and the actors themselves would require time-consuming effort between scenes.
– Syrup spills would be very likely, damaging equipment and electronics like microphones and sound mixing gear. Sticky syrup could even get into the camera.
– The bottles and glasses would need to be thoroughly washed or they’d be covered in ants and flies. Dealing with insects would add difficulty.
– Many takes would mean multiplying these cleanup efforts. The time and resources needed for cleanup would become burdensome.
Avoiding a Sticky Situation
From a practical filmmaking perspective, the mess and complications of real syrup would be very undesirable. Using fake syrup for some shots was likely the easiest and most efficient route for the production. This allowed them to minimize cleanup while still getting the comedic effect they wanted for the scene.
The Actors’ Dietary Habits and Restrictions
Another consideration is that the actors themselves may have had dietary habits, preferences, or restrictions that made ingesting large amounts of sugary syrup undesirable or even impossible:
– Kevin Heffernan, who played Farva, has said he avoids eating too much sugar and tries to follow a protein-focused diet much of the time. Consuming bottles of pure syrup goes against his normal dietary habits.
– Steve Lemme has said he tries to limit his sugar intake for health reasons. The extreme amount in this scene could cause stomach issues or headaches.
– Paul Soter joked in an interview that he lost a filling during one take of drinking syrup, suggesting downsides to using real syrup.
– Some actors may have dietary restrictions due to health conditions like diabetes that would make consuming that much syrup dangerous or inadvisable.
– Religious or ethical dietary practices may also prevent some actors from ingesting animal products like honey or gelatin that are sometimes added to syrups.
Working Around Dietary Needs
Using a sugar-free syrup substitute that resembled maple syrup would allow the production to work around any dietary issues or preferences the actors had. It ensured they could safely perform the scene while maintaining their normal nutritional habits off-camera.
Shooting a Funny Scene While Avoiding Pitfalls
In summary, by relying on a combination of real maple syrup and fake syrup substitutes, the Super Troopers crew was able to walk the line between authenticity and practicality when filming the iconic syrup chugging scene.
The use of real syrup provided enough moments of genuine sticky indulgence to sell the comedy and shock value. Yet the fake syrup allowed them to minimize health issues, cleanup problems, waste, and conflicts with the actors’ diets.
It was an ingenious compromise that allowed the hilarity of the scene to come through on screen while avoiding many of the potential pitfalls and drawbacks of only using real maple syrup. This clever filmmaking allowed them to deliver an iconic scene that still delights audiences today.
Analyzing the available evidence, it seems likely that a combination of real maple syrup and fake syrup was used when filming Farva’s syrup chugging scene in Super Troopers. While opinions differ on the exact details, the consensus is that some real syrup was used for certain shots and takes. However, a non-sugary syrup substitute was also relied on for other portions of the scene to avoid health problems, sticky cleanup, waste, and dietary conflicts. By blending both real and fake syrup creatively, the filmmakers were able to achieve the perfect comedic effect while avoiding many of the potential drawbacks of only using real maple syrup. This allowed them to deliver an iconic and hilarious scene that remains beloved by fans today. So in the end, it wasn’t 100% pure syrup, but it was 100% funny!