Rethinking Soda at the Movies

soda at the MoviesSince I choose to do those things that amuse me most, I find myself in lots of crazy places. A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Brooklyn Independent Television’s show, Intersect, talking about Mayor Bloomberg’s sugary drink limit with host Brian Vines and fellow guest Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. At minute 23:05, I talk Brian Vine out of thinking big portions of soda at the movies are a bargain. Here is our conversation:

BV:   I was just at the movies two weeks ago and split a, what had to be a 60-ounce something, between the two of us. The thing was gone, and this was the debate we had afterwards, that if the mayor would have had his thing, we would’ve had to buy two drinks – and I believe in my health, but I more than that, I am cheaper than I am healthy – so we would have had to buy two different drinks to get the same thing, but we wouldn’t even be allowed to buy the thing if this law passed. So it hits you in the pocketbook because cheap food is usually bad food…
MH:   That’s not food. DON’T CALL THAT FOOD!
BV:   What is it then? It’s empty calorie things….
MH:   It’s empty calorie stuff. You cannot compare….
BV:   Cheap drinks. It’s enjoyment. It’s cheaper though….
MH: Well, for instance, I’m a fun gal, but one thing about me is I do not order anything at the movies. I have unhooked the idea that sitting in a movie means eating. Talk about cheap! I’m not going to that concession stand. I’m not buying any of that stuff!
BV: It’s relative. (laugh)
MH: So let’s get it all straightened out, okay, and that’s what the dialogue is about. It’s testing those ideas people have: “I need my soda!”  Well, why do you need your soda?
BV: Thank you for unhooking me, because it’s not cheap. Soda isn’t cheap at the movies.

Your thoughts: Will Brian Vine quit drinking soda at the movies?

Looking in People’s Shopping Carts

“Judge not lest ye be judged” notwithstanding, who among us has not looked into the shopping carts of others and thought, “What a bunch of crap!”  Well, I have proof that other people’s shopping carts are, in fact, truly that crappy. The proof is this list of the top 260 U.S. Food (and other supermarket items) Sales for the latest 52 weeks ending June 10, 2012 compiled by the SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm.

Number 1: carbonated beverages (soda!) $11,679,250,000 in sales last year. Number 4: salty snacks (chips!) $8,759,148,000 in sales. And because almost one third of Americans don’t know how to cook, frozen dinners and entrees are #9. Also in the top ten, are beer (#5) and wine (#7), but cigarettes fell from #10 in 2011 to #12. Ice cream is #11, cookies are #17, and chocolate candy is #23. Addicted to sugar? I guess so.

But where are the vegetables? Number 30! Okay, bagged salad is #27, but frozen plain vegetables are #44 and tomato products are #80. Hot cereal, more likely to contain whole grain, is #98, but cold cereal, more likely to be sugared and refined, is #8. And, friends of nutrition, dried beans are sadly #151 directly under the moist towelettes.

Meanwhile, SNAP benefits [food stamps] can be used on any food, and the currently estimated cost of obesity is $190 billion a year.

Your thoughts: What’s wrong with this picture?

See Supermarket Categories by Dollar Sales

Serves 3 Over Ice – NICE!

There are some things we would rather forget and I’ll bet Coke would like to forget this.This picture was taken from a poster at the New World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta. Judging by the outfit and decor, it is nearly 60 years old. It was included in a recent presentation by the New York City Department of Health in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Maximum Size for Sugary Drinks: Proposed Amendment of Article 81.”

Mike Bloomberg wants to ban the sale at restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, and concession stands at sports arenas of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 ounces. Bloomberg says the proposed ban is a way to fight obesity in New York City, but opponents say that soda is unfairly singled-out as the cause of a multidimensional problem. In fact, the premise that soda causes obesity is unproven. The most that can be said comes from the CDC: “Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes. U.S. dietary guidelines issued in 2010 recommend limiting the consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars.” Save them for a special occasion.

Many people dislike Mayor Bloomberg’s healthier-than-thou arrogance, but I like his attention-getting style. But whether you are for or against the mayor’s proposal, the poster shows that even Coke agreed a “big” 16-ounce soda is enough for three people. His proposal is simply a handy reminder that today’s food portions are out of control. Presently in NYC, you can’t even buy a soda that is smaller than 16 ounces — not even on the kid’s menu; 16 ounces is usually the “small” size, while 32 to 64 ounces is the “large.” Studies show that when people are given larger portions, they simply eat more without realizing it. It is especially true when it comes to beverages. This quote from Michelle Obama’s address to the National Restaurant Association Meeting in 2012 is a good one. She said, “…no matter what you do, it’s important, truly important, to keep portion sizes in check, because we all know that the size of a meal is just as important as the ingredients it’s made of.” And so, next time you see a 16-ounce soda, remember that it “serves 3 over ice – nice!” Coca-Cola said so in writing. Ouch.

Your thoughts: Where do you stand on the 16-ounce sweetened drink limit?