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The world can be cruel to the very, very sweaty.

Plus: The great pop-vs.-soda debate and a chat with Missouri's Most Handsome.

With temperatures hovering in the single digits, it's hard to imagine anyone would have to worry about sweating these days. But tell that to the legions of folks who suffer from the excessive-sweating disorder known as hyperhidrosis. Saint Louis University physician Dr. Dee Anna Glaser recently concluded a study that found women were twice as likely as men to seek medical treatment for hyperhidrosis. Her research also revealed that heat and exercise can contribute to perspiration.

Unreal: Why are men reluctant to get help for sweating?

Dr. Dee Anna Glaser: We're not sure, but women are often the medical decision-makers for their families and tend to be greater users of healthcare. Women may also be more traumatized by the social stigma.

Isn't it time society accepts people with hyperhidrosis?

Yes, but there's still a huge stigma attached to it. It starts at the individual level. They're embarrassed by it and feel they're doing something wrong. On the society level, people associate sweat with shiftiness and lack of confidence. The deodorant industry has made millions telling people it's not all right to perspire.

When did we first learn that heat and exercise contributed to sweating?

Those are some new findings. A lot of patients say their hyperhidrosis happens anytime, but we found it's often triggered by warm temperatures and exercising.

Aren't you supposed to sweat when exercising?

Yes, but the question is to what degree.

What are ways people try to hide their chronic debilitating sweating?

You wouldn't believe. People put women's panty liners under their arms. Many will buy three or four pairs of the same outfit and change throughout the day so their coworkers don't notice. They'll sew washcloths into their suit jackets and pants to soak up the sweat.

Wow, gives new meaning to the phrase "never let 'em see you sweat," huh?

You got that right.

How Memories Are Made

It was about seven o'clock on Valentine's Day, and the White Castle on South Kingshighway was looking, well, very red-and-white. Hearts dangled from the drop ceiling, and red and white balloons were everywhere. A string of cupids ringed the soda machine.

Seventeen White Castles in St. Louis offered table service, hostess seating and "candlelit dining" for couples looking to celebrate their Valentine's Day in a cost-efficient and unique fashion. The South Kingshighway location had 24 reservations (yes, reservations were required). In a concession to fast-food necessity, seatings were limited to half an hour.

"Some are regulars," general manager Kathy Derleth told Unreal as she surveyed the crowd. "Some come because this is where they met."

Derleth shrugged. She didn't have any specific Valentine's Day plans herself, she said. She and her husband had already gone out to lunch. Where? "Bread Company," she said, laughing.

In honor of the occasion, each table was decked out with a red plastic tablecloth, a bud vase with a red carnation, a bowl of pretzels and a candle. The servers were White Castle workers who volunteered.

Unreal had no reservation, so we did what we do best: We mingled (or harassed the couples, depending on your point of view). Judith and Joel Ewbank told us their first V-Day visit to White Castle took place five years ago. It was a surprise dealio: Joel just told Judith to dress up. When he pulled into the White Castle parking lot, Judith said, she was pissed. "I thought it was a cruel trick until we got inside," she said. "I had just never heard about it."

"How many people go to Tony's or Balaban's?" mused Joel.

Just then a server came over with a handful of ketchup packets and dropped them on the table. "If you're from south city," Joel said, "this is the place to go."

At another table, a double-date foursome was preparing to settle the tab: $30 for four people. They said FOX 2 had come by and gotten footage of the group.

"We're famous," said Sara Quigley. "Because we're cheap."

Picture This

Brad Kroenig, a 27-year-old St. Louis native who's reputed to be the world's highest-paid male model (upward of $1 million a year, according to Parade magazine), admits that at one point he did carry around a very small phone. "Yeah, people would joke and call me Zoolander," he says.

After graduating from Oakville High School, he was in college in Miami when a friend suggested he give modeling a shot. "I was like, ah, whatever," Kroenig tells Unreal. "But then she took me to meet a couple agencies and the response from one was good."

He returns to St. Louis often to visit family and to check in on his business venture: Caleb's Lighthouse, a bead store in St. Peters he's working on franchising with his chiropractor.

Unreal caught up with Kroenig on the eve of a journey with his parents to Berlin to see a photography exhibit, One Man Shown, which consists of pics of him by the German fashion designer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld.

Unreal: Is Zoolander a touchy subject among male model circles?

Brad Kroenig: Not really. People make references to it, like to "Blue Steel" and "Magnum" [names Zoolander gives to expressions that are supposedly different but actually look exactly the same]. The movie makes fun of things so extremely that it's funny: "Look, there aren't too many expressions you can really give."

Do you have an expression you're known for?

What I'm known for is that I always change. I had long hair, then I had it straightened, then I shaved it off. I've had about twenty different looks. People think that's pretty interesting.

Does it get weird to see so many pictures of yourself?

I kind of go into a zone when I model. I really get into it. Like when I did a James Dean shoot, I watched all his movies, and I did his slouch, the way he walked, everything. So when I do see pictures, it's almost like they're not of me. When I first saw the photos at the Lagerfeld exhibit, I kind of laughed. It's like: "Who is this idiot?"

Pop Go the Weasels

Is it soda, or is it pop?

This not-so-great debate has raged for decades on college campuses like Washington University's, where students are drawn from all over the nation.

After all, regional differences have long been assumed to inform the debate, a suspicion confirmed by a Web site created by a California Institute of Technology freshman in the early '90s called "The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy."

Since then 250,000 partisans have submitted their preferences on the page,, which maps the not-quite-scientific breakdown: Midwesterners are more likely to say "pop," folks from both coasts say "soda," and Southerners generically refer to soft drinks as "coke."

But here's where it gets really interesting. Missouri respondents, bucking geographic trends, overwhelmingly say "soda," according to the survey. (Show-Me state write-in responses include "tarzan slam," "fizzly wizz" and "Crunkjuice.")

Not always the crispest corn flake in the bowl, Unreal wasn't sure what to make of all this. So we consulted our financial analyst, C. Douglass Garrett, who happens to have been tracking the debate and believes the trend reflects St. Louis' status as a national powerhouse in the late nineteenth century.

"I'm convinced that this in some way reflects the similarity in societal importance between the St. Louis and northeastern population centers at the time soda fountains were popularized in the late nineteenth century," explains Garrett, who says he personally refers to sweetened carbonated beverages as "sody."

"The South ascended in importance concurrent with rise of Coke brand in the early twentieth century," Garrett continues. "As for pop, well, who knows? The only thing I know is that people who say 'pop' sound really, really dumb."

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