Football games are often lost not by inches but by feet. Cold feet. So when Benny Ricardo of Minnesota beat Green Bay in overtime with a 32-yard field goal into the wind on a damp, chilly day in October, it was not too surprising that he gave some credit to WarmFeet.
WarmFeet is a powder, made in part of cayenne pepper, ginger and mustard, that you sprinkle into your socks. Ricardo used to bundle up with extra socks, which cut off the circulation in his talented toes. For a kicker, circulation in the toes may be more critical than blood to the brain. "This stuff warms the sweet spot of your foot," Ricardo says. "It's like your upper body is in Alaska and your feet are in California."
The alchemist who came up with this concoction is an Englishwoman with a bewitching smile, Samantha Stevens. After moving to Los Angeles in 1965, she eventually wound up living in Aspen. But Stevens never enjoyed the skiing because she had chronically cold feet. She tried everything from wrapping her feet in plastic to fitting her ski boots with battery-operated heaters. "I'd ride up the chair lift and I'd be crying when I got off," Stevens says. "I'd get my feet up in front of the fire in the lodge and not want to leave."
A nagging back injury Stevens received while Boogie-boarding in Malibu was cured by herbal medicine. So the amateur herbalist decided to use herbalogic to cure the common cold foot. Like Goldilocks' porridge, some seasonings were too hot, some too cold.
After three years and hundreds of tests, Stevens finally hit on a combination that warmed feet without making them feel like refried jalape�os. She then teamed up with Divajex, the Tustin, Calif. manufacturer that developed Blue Ice; they were interested in a wintertime complement.
"It's silly to spend $1,000 on your gear and a chichi outfit and then have your feet drop off," she says. "WarmFeet costs just 50 cents a day." If all else fails, you can fill your ski boots with tomato juice and vodka. You'll have one hell of a Bloody Mary.