When I was a baby my parents once put orange soda in my bottle. I know there was a reason–the doctor told them to–but I do blame this in part for the fact that I am addicted to soda. Or “pop”.
We always called it “pop” in Indiana when I was growing up. I started saying “soda” as a teenager because I think the word “pop” sounds ridiculous. I am not a fan of onomontopaea as nouns. (It’s also why I never would buy Meow Mix for a cat.) I suppose I could stay partially true and use “sodapop” but that always sounds too New Englandy for me. And makes me think of The Outsiders.
Pop was a treat when i was growing up. It came in 16oz. glass bottles. Most of our suppers were Water meals but there were three–pizza, tacos and lasagne–that were Pop Meals. That meant the four of us kids could split two bottles of pop between us. I often begged for one of those suppers not because I was such a fan of that food but because I craved Pop. When I was in Jr. High I started being able to have a whole bottle to myself and was occasionally allowed to have a whole bottle as an after-school snack.
I think of this rigid attitude to soda drinking a lot now. Every time we go to any restaurant I see small kids with big glasses of soda. One time in the grocery store the bakery clerk told me* that he drinks an entire two litre bottle as a serving with his meals.
I’m not looking to blame the “obesity epidemic” on soda. First, I don’t think there’s an epidemic, any more than we’d say there is an epidemic of Black or Asian people. Second, I think the shift in agricultural / industrial economy to technological/service economy has more to do with this than anyone wants to admit. Many of the folks who are fatter are the children or grandchildren of those who were farmers and factory workers. We are the genetic children of those who kept trim by doing extraordinarily demanding physical labour day in and day out. We learned to cook and eat from them, too. So a lot of us enjoy the types of meals our grandparents used when they burned three and four times the amount of calories we do each day. I think that’s one reason there’s such a class issue to weight. It’s harder to use money, neighbourhood and education level as a shorthand for class. But weight we still have.
I say all of this because I worry constantly that Soda Is The Next Cigarettes. I’m afraid that if RA lets me live to 70 I won’t be able to order soda in a restaurant–or that if I do I’ll have to pay liquor prices.
Funnily enough, I hear that smoking is again trendy in the young. I actually blame this in part on the wide ban on cigarettes. By driving smoking largely underground, kids don’t see how actually gross it is. They don’t get how tacky it looks and smells because they don’t have to walk by smoking sections in restaurants or through a smoky breakroom at work. And since my generation largely stayed away from smoking this present generation of kids doesn’t see a lot of grisly lung cancer deaths the way we did. To them smoking is a cool Mad Men thing to do. So by making it go away, the Nanny State has made it popular again. I hope that Nannystaters take this lesson to heart and leave me and my soda alone.