Fact Check: Adrenochrome NOT Stored In Heineken Barrels, Transported By Shell Oil Company

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Adrenochrome NOT Stored In Heineken Barrels, Transported By Shell Oil Company It's Artwork

Was adrenochrome stored in barrels from Dutch beer maker Heineken and then transported globally by Dutch oil company Shell? No, that's not true: The image circulating on social media, which shows a beer keg with the word "adrenochrome" stamped on the side, is actually part of an art display from 2018. The project appears to be a satirization of a QAnon conspiracy theory about the chemical compound. In addition, Shell Oil told Lead Stories that the claims are false.

The claims appeared in a post on Facebook (archived here) published on May 9, 2023, under the title "Ole Insane Billy Boi." The image in the post says:



This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook adrenochrome.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 15 15:08:49 2023 UTC)

The cropped image above comes from a photo of an art display by Natalie Lambert. Although not identical to the picture in the post on Facebook, a similar picture of the display was posted to an Instagram account showing artwork by alumni of Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London. The photo appeared as the eighth slide in the post (archived here) from May 27, 2018. The description says:

by Natalie Lambert @nlnl84
Integrated artwork including promo video, installation, ADC altcoin, adrenochrome kegs, and brand website
Video - see @nlnl84 bio

#csmemerge #csm #fineart #adrenochrome #power #institutionalcritique #blood #sacrifice #harvesting #childsacrifice #adrenaline

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

Instagram adrenochrome.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon May 15 16:38:52 2023 UTC)

The "adrenochrome" barrel is highlighted in either blue box (below), with a close-up of the word "adrenochrome" in the yellow box on the right:

paired images.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon May 15 16:38:52 2023 UTC)

The description for the Instagram post identifies the display as "Integrated artwork." It also makes no mention of Shell Oil or Heineken.

Shell Oil

Anna Arata with U.S. media relations for Shell told Lead Stories in a May 15, 2023, email that there's no truth to the "rumor ... but to be clear, these claims are false." She added:

• This substance [adrenochrome] is not and has never been a product in Shell's chemicals portfolio.

• Heineken is not and has never been a customer of Shell Trading and Supply

QAnon connection

The Facebook post plays into a greater QAnon conspiracy theory of the "deep state" and a purported global cabal of pedophiles who thirst for the blood of children and sacrifice them in satanic rituals.

In a March 31, 2022, Men's Health article, Dr. Joseph Pierre, a health sciences clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who talked with Lead Stories for another adrenochrome-related story, discusses the QAnon connection and its mythical link to adrenochrome:

A central conspiracy theory circulating within the QAnon movement is that deep state Satan-worshipping pedophilic liberals are behind an international child sex trafficking ring. A more fringe aspect of that theory is that they are harvesting adrenochrome from children and then self-administering it as a kind of fountain-of-youth potion.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is often the subject of these QAnon theories, which may be why the Facebook post opens with, "Ole Insane Billy Boi."

There's no evidence the chemical compound holds the promise of immortality or, as another Lead Stories fact check addressed, any sort of hallucinogenic properties. The notion of adrenochrome having LSD-like qualities has a literary basis but not a scientific one. Writer Josie Adams described it this way in an April 7, 2020 article in The Spin:

Aldous Huxley's 1954 essay 'The Doors of Perception', written mostly about his experiences with mescaline, discusses the possibility that adrenochrome is a compound with similar effects to the psychedelic cactus. He has not taken it, and doesn't know how one would obtain it, saying just that it's spontaneously produced by the human body. He describes it as 'a product of the decomposition of adrenaline', which is, surprisingly, correct.

There's a brief mention of 'drencrom' in the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, where it's an optional addition to the cocktail (glass of milk) Moloko Plus, but probably the most cited use of the compound is in Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It might be a novel, but many assumed it was a real thing that people really did. ...

In the DVD commentary on the 1998 Fear and Loathing adaptation, director Terry Gilliam said Thompson told him he made the whole adrenochrome thing up.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to QAnon claims can be found here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks that specifically mention adrenochrome can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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