Pepsi’s Sugar, Childhood Obesity and Twitter’s Swiss Cheese
Having just concluded my second book (which will be released in February), I found it an enjoyable change of pace to once again cover the diverse and at times thought-provoking headlines from the world of social media.
While I must admit that I first heard the news of the Pepsi throwback beverage in which the company announced that it would once again use “real” sugar in its flagship and Mountain Dew brands on the NFL Channel on TV, the social media factor was quite notable.
So much so that Pepsi made the following announcement:
“Due to all the Throwback tweets, Facebook fan pages, videos, blog posts, pics & pleas, Pepsi Throwback is back for a limited time only! From December 28, 2009 to February 22, 2010, Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback will be available again with the same formula and real sugar, but this time with an even more rad vintage look!”
This is of particular interest to me as I remember a conversation not that long ago with my wife’s uncle who worked for the beverage company for many, many years.
Sitting poolside at his Montreal home enjoying what else a Pepsi (although I prefer Coca Cola . . . shhh), I remember sharing with him my belief that pop always tasted better from a glass bottle. Of course at the time of our discussion pop, as it was called when I was a kid, being available in glass bottles was a distant memory.
His response to this proclamation from an obvious cola connoisseur was surprising. Basically, the container had nothing to do with the flavor (although if anyone has ever taken a sip out of the old cans in which beverages such as these were distributed, you might be inclined to disagree), but was instead linked to the steadily declining use of real sugar over the years as a means of cutting costs and squeezing out higher profits.
Yes of course sugar is more expensive, but at least it was the “real thing” so to speak.
What I find interesting is that despite the low-key, gradual introduction of a sugar substitute over time, the infamous “high-fructose corn syrup or “HFCS,” bold announcements of a return to a “purer” product is a little surprising and perhaps even a little audacious.
After all, HFCS causes significant damage from both an environmental and health standpoint. “Author of Your Children Are Your Own Fault” Larry Winget’s reference to the astonishing high frequency of childhood obesity comes to mind.
What is even more amusing is the fact that a return to sugar is by no means a bold step into a healthy living diet. Even though it produced “half-hearted rejoicing” on the part of nutritionists when the throwback version was first introduced last year, one has to wonder how the bottler will be able to revert back to the present-day corn syrup version at the end of this latest special run.
It is hard to imagine that Pepsi was a concoction by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in 1898 as a digestive aid. The only thing that is digestive about the current version of “Brad’s Drink,” is that it makes us fat.
This of course is the perfect segue into Larry Winget’s Facebook post, in which he observed “How is it that you can starve your kid to death and it’s called child abuse, yet you can overfeed your kid and it’s masked under the guise of love? Overweight children are 1/3 more likely to die prematurely.” Larry’s strong response is largely prompted by his findings that 27 out of 29 children battle obesity. A situation of which I am certain has been assisted by the advent of the Big Gulp and the “Up-Size” your drink and fries campaigns of many fast food restaurants.
Ah over-consumption . . . brings back memories of Olestra! You remember Olestra, the fat substitute that was “accidentally” discovered by Procter & Gamble in 1968. Adding no fat, calories, or cholesterol to products, when foods containing the additive was consumed it supposedly reduced blood cholesterol levels significantly.
Without getting into the specific details, there were two very significant side effects. The first is that it led people to consume (or over-consume) foods such as potato chips believing that Olestra would counter-balance any negative elements of these tasty snacks. There was of course the second side effect which was the ever pleasant issue of experiencing (and this is a fact) anal leakage. Or as Ray Romano so eloquently stated in a routine, what a delightful thing to have happen at a party.
Anyway, and getting back on track, there is a serious problem with eating habits in this country that even a return to the pureness of good ole sugar won’t remedy.
Finally, what about Twitter’s Swiss Cheese? Alright, I have to confess that the title is geared more to fit in with the first two topics which means that it doesn’t actually have anything to do with food.
I wanted to get the Twitter story in here because a major pet peeve of mine is the way in which my Twitter account can be hijacked out of the blue by parties unknown, who then post a message without my knowledge or approval.
Apparently this is a far too common occurence, with the only solution being the frequent changing of one’s password.
This leads to the obvious question, how can Twitter ever expect to move beyond the realms of a social exchange to a serious business tool if its security can be so easily breached. Come to think of it, Swiss Cheese is an appropriate analogy.