Four Out Of Five Big Food Execs Agree

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.

And this:

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.


Filed under corporations, food, Media

18 responses to “Four Out Of Five Big Food Execs Agree

  1. Southern Beale:

    One of the local gasstationvarietystoremoneywirin’ places is offering a QUART of your favorite soft drink for 79 CENTS.

    Like you, I do not drink a lot of soft drinks. When I DO eat at a place like KFR (Kentucky Fried Rat) or SMackdonalds I always get water, it always seems to catch them unaware. “Water? bottled? No? Just from the soda machine? Um, okay.”.

    • ThresherK

      That sounds perilously close to what the restaurant industry calls a “tap water incident”.

      Such a phrase explains why Coke, after realizing Americans can’t hardly swallow one more ounce per day per capita of Coke-Proper, invented Dasani and Powerade.

  2. Oh you just reminded me of this: yesterday Mr. Beale and I went to our local multiplex to catch a movie. I ordered a small bottle water. The clerk asked — as she’s instructed to do, as they all do — “do you want a slice of pizza or some nachos with that water”? I laughed. I mean, really: IF I WANTED FUCKING PIZZA I’D HAVE ASKED FOR IT.

    Jesus. I can’t be mad at her, it’s what Regal Cinemas demands their counter clerks do. If they aren’t shoving their frankenfood at me, they’re asking if I want a large instead. Again: IF I WANTED A LARGE I’D HAVE ASKED FOR IT.

    The way retailers shove food in your face all the time is disgusting. Love him or hate him, but Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” pretty much debunks Ms. Sparkling Beverages North America in 2 hours.

    Corporations need to stop treating us like we’re children.

    • themadkansan

      …I don’t think it’s so much “treating us like we’re children” as the absolute molecularly-ingrained drive by corporations to MAEK MOAR MUNEH!!!!111, which is where the concept of upselling became holy writ and required procedure of front-line employees around the globe.

      And woe be to the drone who fails to upsell at =every= conceivable opportunity…

      • I know, I know. We’re just big fat wallets to be raided to these assholes. They don’t care they’re selling us poison.

        Since this was on my mind, we want to yet ANOTHER movie yesterday, and the theater was really crowded so this time it was a manager working my concession line. I ordered my small water and he asked if I wanted a piece of pizza. And I said “IF I WANTED PIZZA I’D HAVE ASKED FOR IT” and he grumbled “I have to ask” and I said “I KNO YOU DO BUT I THINK IT’S STUPID.”


      • themadkansan

        I know too, and I generally make it known that I’m not mad at them, but that I DON’T LIKE BEING UPSOLD IF I WANTED SOMETHING I WOULD ASK FOR IT DAMMIT!!!

        this is one of the many reasons I could never hold a customer-service job again, even if I had to – I. WOULD. NEVER. UPSELL. ANYTHING.

  3. SiubhanDuinne

    My late ex-husband used to have a Hershey Bar and a Coca-Cola for breakfast every day. Just revolting. (However, honesty compels me to confess that my own breakfast in those days was black coffee and a couple of cigarettes.)

    Oh, and I also order just a bottle of water at movie theaters and have exactly the same conversations and reactions as you.

  4. I suppose if a 12-oz. Coke has 140 calories, a super-size would have over 500 calories or anywhere from 17% to 25% of a person’s daily caloric needs. I think the youngsters that eat at MacDonalds are starting to look a little bit pudgy for their age. Maybe it’s my imagination. If kids had more outdoor play and bicycle riding time, it would be okay to have a few cookies now and then.

    I remember when our parents were children and a coke cost a nickel, they came in a 6/12 ounce little bottle. To my mind, a 12-oz. bottle today looks just as small. Yesterday I thought I would celebrate the avocado season with some nice guacamole and a Mexican Coke. Turns out you can get Mexican Pepsi as well. This was a rare treat. The Pepsi was sweeter, if any of you can remember that far back. Nice commie sugar from Cuba.

    • Yes and you can get Mexican Dr Pepper too. And if you can’t find the Mexican brand name, you can get cane sugar-sweetened soft drinks at Whole Foods.

      I used to like Hansen’s sodas, the Mandarin Lime and Grapefruit were favorites. Those are (or were) cane sugar sweetened. Can’t find them anymore around here. Still, I just don’t drink a lot of carbonated beverages. Beer not included, of course. 🙂

      • themadkansan

        the one vice I allow myself anymore is Pepsi Throwback, when I can find it – an at-times frustrating procedure out here on the Great (hate) Plains…

        I’ve limited myself to it for long enough now, that if I drink a ‘normal’ soft drink I can immediately taste the metallic whang of the cornsyrup, along with the weird ‘coated’ feeling on my tongue, palette, and roof of my mouth.

      • Yeah, I can’t really describe it but there’s this weird aftertaste to corn syrup, kind of a coating on the back of your mouth that’s just so nasty

      • themadkansan

        yupyupyupyupyup; same general reason I cannot STAND diet drinks – whatever outlandish chemicals they use as “sweeteners” taste like powdered aluminum to me…

      • And then there’s the actual aluminum they put the stuff in, which probably leaches into the beverage. Years ago I read that they thought Alzheimer’s was caused by aluminum in the brain — don’t know if that’s still the case, this was ages ago — but we all got freaked out and started ditching the aluminum in our diets. I just never went back.

      • themadkansan

        actually, the insides of those cans are coated with resin, otherwise they’d =never= hold pressure. I used to have to do the same thing to the aluminum pump bodies I machined – aluminum is a porous material, and the hydraulic fluid would leach out right through the metal at pressure if it’s not sealed. Machined parts would go into a pressure vessel, then it would be filled with a water-soluble resin and pressured up for several hours in order to drive the resin into the pores of the metal. Then they would be placed in a heated vessel to activate the resin, after which they were ready for use.

      • Oh, well OK. Well there are some cans (not aluminum I guess) that they coat with a plastic to keep metal leaching into the food. Tomatoes and stuff like that.

      • themandkansan

        In the US at least, steel cans are usually plated with tin to prevent chemical reactions between the stored foodstuffs and the steel – tin is resistant to corrosion, but can still leach into stored food if the contents are acidic enough (tomatoes, for example) and the cans sit for too long without being used.

        Some places make the cylindrical part out of aluminum and crimp steel caps on the ends – these kinds of cans are usually coated inside with BPA.

  5. I appreciate your sentiment SB but I think you may be using a flawed strategy. If you could come up with a study that showed sugary drinks increased the frequency of homoerotic thoughts or a desire to learn Spanish you might make some headway.