Coca chewing gets a stylish new look with bubblegum flavor and TikTok followers

Chewing coca has emerged as Bolivia’s newest fashionable trend, with flavors ranging from bubble gum to passion fruit and TikTok stars promoting it.

For centuries, Andean villagers have chewed coca leaves, the primary component of cocaine, to combat the effects of hunger and high altitude. Bolivia allows people to consume coca leaves, and the plant is revered by many people in the area.

But what was once thought to be a rural custom is now sweeping Santa Cruz’s high society. Ingenious locals are adding sweeteners and flavors to the traditional “bolo” of coca leaves and baking soda.

A Santa Cruz businessman named Cristian Ferreira claims that the practice became more popular after people observed the energizing and mood-altering effects it had on Bolivian agricultural workers.

Businesses now create unique designs, try out novel flavors, and, like Luis Alberto Vasquez, deliver to upscale events all over the city.

“Today, everybody uses it, from doctors to police, it’s a natural energizer,” Vasquez said. “It eases stress and takes away tiredness. It helps at work so you can be more relaxed.”

Cycling teams and other sports teams have joined the cocaine craze, and sports shops and gyms now sell “kuka” pills, which are concentrated coca pills that have the same effects as bolos without the chewing required.

Since the start of the pandemic, Daniel Novoa, also known as “Boloman,” has amassed 200,000 followers and more than 31 million views on the social media video platform TikTok with his humorous videos about using coca.

“More than anything my TikTok is a work tool,” said Novoa, who also sells bolo through his channel. “I make content that I can get a smile out of while I sell my product.”

The United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs classifies coca leaves as a controlled substance, but Bolivia was able to make an exception for its people’s long-standing practice of chewing the leaves.

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Strategy, Sustainability, Uncategorized

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