Monday, June 4, 2012

Soft Drinks..How Much Is Too Much?

When I was a kid soda came in either a twelve ounce can or a ten ounce bottle. You could get it in a quart bottle, but that was for when you were having a party or for adults to mix highballs with. I remember when the sixteen ounce bottle came out, followed by the liter, two liter and three liter. The one thing I don’t remember was anybody (short of my mother) telling me how much I should or shouldn’t drink.

I’m beginning to believe my generation is the last of the purist coffee drinkers. I believe this to be true because when I go to a coffee shop and see somebody five or ten years younger than me ordering a coffee drink, it’s basically everything but coffee going into that cup. You name it and they’re putting it in there. From caramel to cupcake batter and everything in between, there is no limit to the amount of calories you can put in one of these things.

When I have a coffee in the morning I have roughly twenty four ounces to start with, and by the time I have forgotten where I’ve put my second twelve ounce cup I’ve maybe had eighteen ounces total. In that coffee I’ve perhaps added twenty to thirty calories worth of half and half and no sugar. So my total calorie intake for two cups of coffee is maybe twenty five calories. I realize I’m probably on the low side of coffee consumption so let’s say with sugar and some flavored nondairy creamer the average person takes in fifty to sixty calories worth of extra goodies in their morning coffee regimen.

Roll out the Trenta… or at the very least roll out whoever is drinking one of these things cause damn...this person is gonna need a wheelbarrow! The Trenta is the latest size from Starbucks and at thirty one ounces and up to 560 calories per drink with nonfat milk, who the hell needs to eat breakfast! With whole milk or half and half, one of these puppies can hold one fourth of your daily caloric intake! Add a 4 ounce bagel with an ounce of light cream cheese and congratulations, you’ve just come a Tic-Tac away from getting half your average daily caloric intake…and you haven’t even punched the clock yet.

Right, I know kind health conscious people… “But Pav, I don’t drink coffee in the morning!” So which one are you? The eighteen year old reaching for that twenty four ounce can of energy drink?! Good for you, you’re only getting three to four hundred calories. I know you’ll need that energy for doing the kinds of important things eighteen year olds do, like saving the planet by playing Call of Duty until 4am or swapping spit with any poor girl who’s willing to swap spit with you. Too bad you can’t muster enough energy to pull those pants up, or manage the strength to turn your hat so it’s facing forward.

You there with the coke in your hand, yeah that’s right I see you...I know you’re only going to drink one can in the morning right?! Of course you just need it for the caffeine, we all do. Oh I see you need a little more than the average person so you up and got yourself forty-four ounce tub from the local sip n go mini mart…good for you…That’ll be 532 calories, you want that on your ass or underneath your arms? No problem…keep the change!  

No, of course I know you’re not the kind of person to reach for an energy drink or a soda …you’re older and much too wise for that.  Besides what would the people at the gym think if you were taking up an exercise machine (to text your friend Tiffany about that awful outfit Jaimiee was wearing and could you believe that knock-off Coach bag?!) and you were holding something other than a nutritious smoothie?

Well at upwards of six hundred calories, they’re happy to know you’re gonna need that gym membership for a while. With all that sugar they are probably also thinking maybe they should keep a good supply of diabetes meds on hand and place it next to the power protein shakes they’re hawking. Look, I didn’t tell you all of that to make you feel bad. I’m saying there are lots of choices to be made in the morning. Most of us are well inside the reasonable range and the examples I gave are extreme.

I myself could probably opt for a little skim milk in my coffee, or drink it black. I could also dress up as Julius Caesar and run around trying to make people kiss my ring. Unfortunately the former will mean an additional two or three hours of wake up time before any human being could stand to be around me. The latter would probably just end with a vicious beating from a band of eighteen year olds making their way to the energy drinks or on their way to make-out with some hapless victim of their awkward charm.

Either way the choice is up to you right?! Well... maybe not. How about if I was waiting for you down at the local coffee shop? Then after you got your venti double mocha caramel frappe latte extra sprinkles with chicken wings and a waffle thrown on top, I ate the chicken wings and dumped eight ounces of that drink down the drain. Then smiled and said “it’s too much…you’re welcome!” I know… sounds like it’s time for Pav to get yet aother beat down.  

But this is exactly what the city of New York is trying to do as a service for its people. Don’t think it’ll ever happen? Remember Trans-Fat? “Yeah but Pav, trans-fat was bad!” Well of course it was people, and we had been eating them for years. Remember when margarine was so good for us?! I wonder if I could make an artificial heart from the dozens of tubs of that crap I ate growing up?! Furthermore, drinking anything I’ve mentioned is bad in the amounts they are served in.  

So what happened to trans-fat? Public outrage was so great that they’ve stopped putting it in damned near everything. That wasn’t good enough for some folks and so the city of New York decided to pass a law banning it. What was the point? Is banning something in the interest of public safety a good thing? Well why stop at trans-fat and soft drinks? Pins and needles are sharp, let’s either get some safety tips for them or ban them outright, someone could prick themselves for the love of tangerines!

Professional kitchens are awful places filled with dangerous equipment, and I should know… I've burned, cut and nearly maimed myself with everything from a simple knife to a buffalo chopper and everything in between. You see where I’m going here?! Right… let’s get all that shit out of the kitchen! It’s a damned mine field in there… let’s make it safe for kitchen workers right now.

I’m sure Mario Batali will thank me when he brings out a bunch of uncooked dirty carrots with the tops torn off and unpeeled to the delight of his adoring customer base. Think of the money he can save on kitchen staff and awful things like water (drowning hazard) or cutlery. Thank heaven there will be no meat either as uncooked meat is not only unappetizing and tough to chew… but also pretty damned dangerous. Just ask anyone who has eaten 16 ounces of chicken tartare.

I know this all seems pretty extreme, but trust me when I tell you it’s for your own good. Besides, who would know what’s best for the people than the government. Having just enough Native American blood in me to say so, but not enough to get checks from a casino I can tell you their record is at best pretty sketchy. After all, these are the same people who decided trans-fat was good for us in the first place.

I know it would be great if we all cut down on calorie intake and lost a few L B’s. But that is a decision to be made by the individual. If you want to eat bacon cheeseburgers until your fat little gravity challenged head pops off your shoulders I say…”Bon Appetite!” If you wanna chug-a-lug one hundred ounces of whipped cream as a morning snack…chug on big man.

The danger isn’t in making one law for our own supposed good… the danger is in the precedent that has been set. Something as awful as pink slime has shut down three of its four plants just due to public outcry. It didn’t need a law banning it! Of course the public is still scarfing down Mechanically Separated Poultry products (That’s the “other” pink slime) in record amounts…but that’s beside the point.

The bottom line is this…When it comes to whether something sells or doesn’t sell is based on the demand for that particular item. If the public likes a particular widget, they will buy it. If it doesn’t then they won’t. Be informed and let the market dictate what gets bought and what doesn’t. Adam Smith wrote in “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” ~“Never complain of that of which it is at all times in your power to rid yourself.” Self-rule governs all, and people will always act in their own self-interest.

Caveat Emptor means “Let the buyer beware”… it doesn’t mean close your eyes and let the government decide for you. Otherwise, we’ll all be buying six hundred dollar toilet seats and driving on bridges that lead to nowhere... And if we follow the former Soviet Union’s model…we will be doing this in cars that suck.


  1. Spot on again my friend. How much regulation do we need? Too fucking much already.

    1. If I wanted to drink a gallon jug of trans-fat.... the only thing I expect to hear from the gov't is....would you like a straw?!

  2. I couldn't love this blog more! So tired of people not taking responsibility for their lives and blaming the government! the gov't can keep OUT of my cheeseburger, thanks!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed. If the government wants to do something useful...they can start making balloon animals and stay the f'k out of people's lives and out of the corporate world....maybe go play in traffic or something...

  3. "Go play in traffic" . . . that was my play yard as well!! Can't agree more! And all these 100 cal packages, I suppose they are good, except people just eat about 8 of them...Helping the consumer should only mean informing them accurately so that they can make up their own minds!