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Friday, June 1, 2012

Big, bad sodas...beware!

Although I believe in personal choice and freedoms, I secretly admire that Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban large sodas and sugary drinks. I'm a soda-nazi from way back. As someone born in the early '60s, I remember that soda was served at parties and for special occasions. I recall visiting my aunt Doris during the day at her banquet hall in Hamden, Connecticut. I felt extremely grown up sitting at the dimly lit bar being served an icy Coke in an highball glass with a maraschino cherry and umbrella. Although I had a sweet tooth, I never found sodas very more-ish. My poison of choice was chocolate milk.

The only person I knew who was allowed sodas at home was my friend Leslie whose fridge was stocked with cans of Tab. It tasted repulsive to me, and even at age twelve I questioned why she and her siblings were allowed access to soda any time of day. It must've been because her parents were (shhh!) divorced...another anomaly in my little, sheltered world. 

In my teens, we drank more sodas while eating out and I found that pizza really went better with Coke. In the late seventies, as my mom had to go to work, we ate out at McDonald's more often and of course, soda was the beverage of choice. But it was still served in nothing larger than a 16 oz paper cup, no refills, and lots of ice.

I believe that it was 1980 when the big shift came: Hamden High School got its first vending machine filled with candy and soft drinks. I remember seeing it newly placed in the hallway outside the cafeteria where an administrator, it may have been the principal, gazed upon it with a wide grin on his face. He may even have been rubbing his hands. My first thought was "Now that's a really bad idea." It was clear he was keen on the profits but I knew that allowing kids unlimited access to sugar was pretty dumb. Why didn't he?

The '80s and beyond saw the advent of free refills and outlandish, super-gulp sodas and the super-sizing of America's waistlines. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like everyone had one of those garishly decorated plastic cups from a convenience store. Where did this sudden thirst come from? And why did it have to be quenched with a neon colored Slurpee? I rarely watched TV at the time, so I'm sure I was spared the onslaught of commercials which made junk food consumption seem so sexy. Consumers lost their taste for simpler drinks until bottled water became the new rage. 

So I'm glad that finally, some official wants to highlight the issue that drinking a liter of soda in the form of large drinks  is a bad idea. Even if this proposal just gets a few people to reconsider their portions, it's worthwhile. 

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