I wanna know what’s going on with the beverage/food service industry these days. Just the other day I ate lunch at Wendy’s. The counter attendant took my order – a cheeseburger, fries, medium coke – and gathered all the food on a tray for me. Then she grabbed the drink, a 32-oz soda. I looked at the girl and asked, “is this a medium drink?” Yes.
Now, back when I was a kid, 7-11 began marketing a bladder-stretching behemoth they aptly called the Big Gulp – a 32 oz bucket full of syrup and carbonated water. Ya had to hold the thing with two hands! My friends & I would fill our pockets with quarters, head down to the 7-11, buy some Big Gulps (usually a mixture of everything at the fountain), and settle in for a long session of Tempest or Asteroids. The session was almost always terminated prematurely because of the digestive trauma caused by so much liquid ingested in so little time (the Charleston Chews & Snickers didn’t help either). …And while I’m thinking back on being a kid, I remember McDonald’s selling soft drinks in 3 sizes: small/medium/large (something like 12oz/16oz/20oz, respectively). Back then, 20 ounces was a BIG drink. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the industry began selling a fourth size, extra large, weighing in at 32oz…now called a “medium” at Wendy’s. Back to 7-11, I’m equally as fuzzy on the timing of the debut of the SuperBigGulp – 44oz, for those times when 32 ounces of pop was not quite enough to get you through. Through what, I don’t know. Hopefully not through a traffic jam.
And I’m sure you’ve noticed the soft drink scam at the local Cineplex, right? The old, “yeah, we’ll sell you this 20-oz ‘regular-size’ coke for 3 bucks, but for only pennies more we’ll sell you the 48-oz ‘value size.’ - a much better deal for you.” I always want to reply, “yeah, but I want to see the WHOLE movie.”
Between the king-size vessels and the free refills, I can’t help but get a little paranoid. Why, tell me, why has America become this Soft Drink Nation? I look around and see an overweight, over-caffeinated society, and lemme tell ya, I’m suspicious. What’s IN those drinks, anyway? Sure, we can read the ingredients on the labels…but what ELSE is in those drinks? I wonder: Why do we continue to watch bad network TV? Why do we feel satisfied by simply throwing money at social problems instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting involved? Why have we collectively stopped insisting that politicians be truly accountable for the decisions they make as our representatives? Why do we recycle our junk – buying at garage sales, then selling on eBay to make more money to buy at estate sales? Why do we care what’s happening between Jessica and Nick?
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘there must be something in the water.’ I think it’s more sinister than that, because I think there’s something in the soft drinks, and that means someone’s putting something in there. I’m suspicious of the soda fountain, but I can’t stop drinking what it pours. I think it’s an apathy potion. Because while a part of me thinks we should do something about it, well, is it really that important? I mean, 7th Heaven is just about to start. Nothin’ better than drinkin’ an ice cold Sierra Mist and checkin’ in on the Camdens. Is there?
Hmmm…but now I think about it, I wonder: what’s in the french fries.