Hey, Coca Cola: Big Tobacco called, they want their playbook back.
Seriously, I’m trying to figure out what the point was behind this interview with Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America (yes, that’s her title). I guess it’s better than working behind the scenes with one of Rick Berman’s phony front groups, like the “Center for Consumer Freedom” — except of course Coca-Cola is operating in that shadow realm, too. But whatever.
Anyway, I’m sure it will come as news to no one that Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America thinks sugary sparkling beverages are so waaay awesome and there’s no scientific evidence that they’re harmful to your health! None! In fact, this is what Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America feeds her family! For realz!
Now, before I dive into this, I think Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on supersized soft drinks is a tad too authoritarian for my tastes. But I understand his frustration, because even though we all know better, millions of Americans still drink this crap. So clearly the whole “education” route hasn’t worked. As for me, I say: tax the shit out of it. Tax all of it, just like we do cigarettes and alcohol, put the money toward health and nutrition programs. There’s no reason for the bad stuff to be more affordable than the good stuff. That’s the definition of “doing it wrong.”
But all that aside, I also think it’s incredibly lame to give Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America, a platform to spread misinformation and corporate propaganda. Get a load of this:
Q: Is there any merit to limits being placed on the size of sugary drinks folks can buy?
A: Sugary drinks can be a part of any diet as long as your calories in balance with the calories out. Our responsibility is to provide drink in all the sizes that consumers might need.
That’s utter bullshit. There are 273 calories in a Snickers bar. You can also eat 273 calories worth of chicken and broccoli. Let’s see which one has more nutritional value. Perhaps Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America would like to eat one of these for lunch every day for a month? Let’s see which she picks.
Q: But critics call soft drinks “empty” calories.
A: A calorie is a calorie. What our drinks offer is hydration. That’s essential to the human body. We offer great taste and benefits whether it’s an uplift or carbohydrates or energy. We don’t believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration.
Again, bullshit. If you want hydration, drink water.
This was my favorite:
Q: How much Coke should a kid drink a day?
A: We don’t make recommendations on what kids should drink. But a 12-ounce can of Coke has 140 calories, the same as a lunch-box-size bag of pretzels.
Those are our options? How about some apples and almond butter?
The entire article goes on in this “perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet” vein, an absolute sop to the Coca-Cola Corporation and Big Food. I can’t imagine why USA Today did this. Were they afraid of losing ad revenue? Seriously, when the Summer Olympics are upon us, let’s ask how many of athletes include 32 oz. Coke as part of their training diet. I’d say, none.
I don’t drink a lot of soft drinks, obviously. Maybe four times a year I’ll get a hankering for a sugary Coke or a Dr Pepper. If I do, I try to find the Mexican Coke, made with cane sugar not corn syrup. It just tastes better to me. Mr. Beale, on the other hand, used to be a Pepsi fanatic. He’d guzzle the stuff by the gallon. Once while at the beach I had one of his Diet Pepsis. It tasted nasty and was so salty, it never quenched my thirst. In fact, I found myself craving another one almost immediately. That’s when I realized this shit is like crack in a cup. No, it’s not part of a healthy balanced diet. No it’s not okay in moderation because there is no moderation. Once you start you can’t stop.
And what’s really not okay is you guys presenting your crack in a cup as a perfectly wholesome, normal thing for people to consume on a regular basis. It’s really not okay for USA Today to print this corporate propaganda and pretend they’re offering “news.”
Mark Bittman’s column on this issue is a must read.