“Better appreciate it while you can!” said the old man while he added salt to his popcorn.
The friendly stranger was referring to the massive 32 oz. cup I was filling to the brim with Coca-Cola. My date and I were about to watch a three-hour long epic movie and it was decided that an epic amount of snacks were needed to go along with it. We had bought the large soda/large popcorn combo to share.
“Uhg, I know it,” I said. I shook my head disapprovingly, emphasizing my exasperation at the situation. The old man put down the extra sodium with a slight shake in his hands and flashed me a big yellow toothy grin.
“Men my age are too old for a babysitter; thank god we got that Bloomberg to do the job instead,” He said. He let out a little laugh with his heavy breath and lumbered over to where his wife was waiting for him in front of his movie theater.
Later that night, after I had gone home, I was wide awake and thinking about the so called “soda ban.” The soda ban is the recently passed New York City law championed by Mayor Bloomberg which would no longer allow movie theaters and restaurants to sell sodas and other sugary drinks in larger than 16 ounce serving sizes.
I finished about half of the soda I bought at the movie theater, which happened to equal 16 ounces of coke. I am by no means a regular soda drinker; I could feel the sugar and caffeine dancing along my blood stream. Even though it was two in the morning and I was wide awake suffering because of soda, I was still furious with the idea that I would no longer be able to buy my 32 ounce soda. Mayor Bloomberg is taking away my RIGHT as an American consumer to suffer from sugar highs.
My boyfriend then called me. “I saw you online on Facebook. I have work early tomorrow but I can’t go to sleep because of the coke.”
“Greg, do you realize that as we speak, we are getting closer to the day when we will no longer be able to buy super sized sodas? The New York Time’s says that 60% of the city’s population doesn’t agree with the legislation. That can’t be right, it has to be 80% or higher.”
“Who cares? Does the ban do anything anyway?”
The short answer to this is no. While restaurants and movie theaters will no longer be able to sell what have passed as “medium” and “large” sodas any longer, it does not stop consumers from buying liters of the junk at the grocery store. The men, women, and children of New York who are addicted to the feel of sugary drinks can still get their fix. If you want a large soda at a McDonald’s or a motive theater all you have to do is buy two regular sodas.
Bloomberg hasn’t yet taken away our right to get fat the way we want to get fat—he is only succeeding in making us feel inconvenienced about it. The “ban” is nothing besides symbolic. The ban tells us that we should take the affects of sugary drinks seriously—over consumption can lead to diabetes and obesity—and the best way to make us listen is to make us outraged. The inconvenience, and the dramatic conversation around it, might just lead some Americans to a kick a bad dietary habit.
“I care Greg. I love the jumbo popcorn/soda deal,” I say. My voice drips with indignation. I am glad he cannot see me. While my face may be furrowed and serious looking, my legs are jittering under my desk.
“Pssht. Well alright, but I’m never going to drink Coke again. I like going to sleep at night. Like a human.”
After I got off the phone I bicycled my legs while lying on the floor, aggressively fighting my unwanted sugar high. The coke and the popcorn rolled along my stomach providing me with the uncomfortable thought that nothing I had consumed that evening was good for my digestion, health, or weight. My stomach gurgled in agreement. Perhaps I’d be better off without the soda as well.