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Soft Drinks: The Beginning of the End?
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According to the Los Angeles Times, California state Senator Bill Monning on February 13 introduced a controversial bill that could make California the first state in the nation to require prominent health warnings (about obesity, diabetes and tooth decay) on sugary drinks.
Monning sees his proposal as a model for the rest of the nation, so suddenly I see my history with carbonated beverages in a different light.
When my late father was a Webelos Scout leader, he would use an antique cream separator to dispense a multi-soda concoction affectionately known as “Suicide.” Taking into consideration recent health warnings, was the name prophetic? (And has anyone studied the long-term effects of scouts squirting Cheez Whiz into fellow campers’ sleeping bags?)
As a teen, I pored through yellowing newspapers and magazines and discovered cartoon advertising icons “Pepsi and Pete, the Pepsi Cola Cops.” Nowadays a “Pepsi Cola Cop” would probably be someone who profiled purveyors of second-hand syrup.
My college Advertising professor used to emphasize how Coca-Cola products were so ubiquitous in the South as to make Coke a generic name for soft drink, as in “Would you like to go for a Coke?” Debonair chap that I was, I approached an attractive classmate with the question “Would you like to go for a Coke?” Perhaps we went out only three times because she came to be creeped out by the subtext of “We would make a cute couple until we become snaggle-toothed burdens on society.”
I have quaffed my share of carbonated beverages. Selling soda pop and junk food helped finance my teenage hobbies. Soft drink ads probably help support this newspaper. On the other hand, I’ve known way too many people with diabetes and tsk-tsked countless portly kids waddling to the drink dispenser.
So I’m in a quandary about this issue. What’s the best I can hope for to come out of this?
Will the crusaders stop with labeling, or will they segue into ever-escalating “sin taxes” and public shaming? At the very least, they’ll probably commandeer soft drink slogans and indoctrinate us with “You can’t beat the Real Thing - but these dentures are a halfway decent substitute,” “I’m a pariah, you’re a pariah, wouldn’t you like to be a pariah, too?,” “Do the Dew - Your Days Are Few,” and “You’ve got a lot to live and...oops. Guess you DIDN’T have a lot to live.”
Perhaps the legislators will broaden their approach and provide other valuable information for the geniuses who don’t know about weight gain or basic dental hygiene. (“Honest, there is not an invisible person opening the supermarket door every time you approach it.”)
Perhaps parents en masse will suddenly advise “Drink your salad,” and our intelligence agenices will stick with good old waterboarding instead of descending to the level of savages by “7 Upping” terrorists.
Maybe the implementation of the plan would steer away from vilifying beverage companies and take a more positive approach of extolling the virtues of exercise, balanced diet and regular teeth brushing. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Of course in California once they caught the flies, they would put them in a wild game preserve spa.
*Sigh* Makes me long for a good stiff (soft) drink and a chorus of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Perform Dialysis, In Perfect Harmony...”
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.