Why elves are not allowed to drink too much coffee

exhausted elvesThe rush is on at the North Pole, Santa and his team of elves are frantically putting the finishing touches to this year’s Christmas.

The final batch of toys has been assembled, but now each gifts needs to be wrapped and labelled correctly, so it is delivered to the child for which it was intended.

The elves are exhausted

2011 has been a particularly challenging year.   Funding is down, global warming has meant that the North Pole community has had to contend with several water leaks plus the number of humans has slid past the 7 billion mark.   7 billion people means the number of good boys and girls has grown again this year.   Even with outsourcing the job to factories in China and India, it is hard to produce sufficient toys for all the good boys and girls around the globe.

Both Father Christmas and the elves are also another year older, so keeping up with the pace is a challenge.  The elves get up go, has got up and went.  They tired and grumpy….

The North Pole needs a lift

Just like you, the North Pole residence has turned to a little pharmacological intervention. 

At regular intervals the work force downs ribbons and scissors to enjoy a “caffeine break”.  Some of the elves sip a steaming cup of coffee, but others prefer a little bit of cola.

elf caffeine break

Santa Claus keeps an eye on the elves energy drink consumption, because he knows too much caffeine in such tiny bodies, can take his work force from bored and tired, to freaked out zombies unable to sit still long enough to find the end of the sticky tape.

Caffeine and little bodies

Elves, like human children are small containers. 

Pouring a cup of coffee or a can of coke, into a small container, can produce BIG results.

The small “container” effect

The best way to illustrate this point is to imagine you put the same amount of green dye into two different containers – the first containe is a 1 litre drum filled with water, the second is a 10 litre drum filled with water.

 green drums 1

The dye is not as green in the big container, because it has been diluted in 10 litres of water, in the 1 litre container the colour is stronger, because it has only mixed with 1 litre of water.

green drums 2

The dye represents caffeine.  When you give a cup of coffee to a smaller person, it mixes in a smaller volume, so the resulting concentration of caffeine is much higher, than when a very large person drinks exactly the same cup of coffee. The large person has a bigger volume of water in their body, so the caffeine is diluted.  

Elf sized doses of caffeine

The elves are never allowed to drink out of Santa’s cup or wolf down a full can of coke, so that sanity prevails in the workshop.   Santa restricts their caffeine intake to 60 – 80 mg of caffeine a day i.e. the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee or 1 can of coke ALL DAY !

Santa also makes sure that his little helpers don’t drink caffeine towards the end of the day.  Caffeine tends to stick around for a little longer in little people, so it is important that the elves don’t end up being wired when it is time for bed.

Moms protect your little helpers

A little caffeine is not the big health hazard that it is often proclaimed to be.  It improves your mood, productivity and energizes your muscles, so you can go further for longer plus it can protect you from diabetes.

But too much hypes you up and interferes with your sleep, so it is important to get the dose right.


The sleigh is loaded and the elves are fast asleep – ready for the big day tomorrow.

sleeping elves

 MERRY CHRISTMAS from Spoonful of Science.


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