Teeny Tiny Sodas

I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about New York’s new ban on soda sizes above 16 ounces in an effort to help with America’s growing obesity problem.  The ban will apply in fast food restaurants, movie theaters, Broadway theaters, sports stadiums, delis, cafeterias at work, and most other places selling prepared food.  It will not cover beverages sold in supermarkets and most convenience stores.  The rule would not apply to lower or zero calorie beverages, such as water or diet soda, or to alcoholic beverages or drinks that are more than half milk or at least 70% juice.

I may be in the minority, but I am a huge fan of this.  Throughout the years, I’ve seen fast food cups morph in size; the drink that was a large years ago is now a small or medium in most establishments, with grossly large cups taking the large and super sizes spots.  When I lived in Connecticut, I gained about fifteen pounds in a short amount of time by drinking regular sodas rather than a low or zero calorie substitute.  I’ve watched children (whose parents I was acquainted with) become overweight at early ages because mom and dad didn’t mind if they had a Coke or Mt Dew with their meals and snacks.  We are a fat and sloppy country and I appreciate efforts such as this one to try to assist our citizens.

The majority of businesses that will be affected by the ban are establishments that offer free refills, either by self-serve or by asking a cashier.  This ban is not saying “You are NOT allowed to consume more than 16 ounces of regular Dr. Pepper with this meal!”  It’s simply making it more difficult for you to access those empty calories and damage your health.  When eating fast food, you’re packing on the calories as it is with a burger (300 to 600 calories on average, although it can often push 1000) and fries (anywhere from 250 to 600 on average) or onion rings (400 on average), plus any dipping sauces you choose to use with your side (15 calories per tablespoon of ketchup, but zesty onion ring sauce nets you 150 calories per serving).  It makes sense to try to cut out the empty calories by attempting to get consumers to take it easy on the soda.  In no way is the ban stopping you from getting refill after refill; the trips to the counter will burn some of those unnecessary calories anyway.

At the movie theater, if you are like me and never willing to step out until the movie wraps, perhaps this will push you to order a different beverage at the counter.  I prefer the 20 ounce Dasani bottled water at the AMC theater to accompany my popcorn.  If I’m in the mood for a soda, I’ll spring for a diet, but both my husband and I are always sure to avoid the regular sugary sodas.  A small buttered popcorn at Regal Movie Theater will net you 670 calories (unbuttered is 485) while a large at AMC with a reasonable amount of butter puts you just over 1000.  If you must have a regular Coke, it makes sense to give you a smaller size, limiting the amount of calories you pack on while sitting immobile for two to three hours.  I’m also not above bringing in my own drink if I must; a Vitamin Water Zero is a nice way to cut through all that popcorn butter and salt without giving me thunder thighs.

Restaurants have slowly begun to put calorie counts in clear areas on their in-store menus or on display elsewhere on site rather than just on their website or in a forgotten pamphlet in the corner.  They are not tweaking their items (for the most part, although some have tried cutting down on the size of items) but simply making sure the consumer is aware of what they are about to eat.  It makes the intelligent consumer see that if they have the 1/3rd pound Hardee’s burger with fries, they are consuming half of the calories they are meant to eat per day.  They may be pushed to substitute a salad for the fries, skip the mayo on the burger (one tablespoon nets you 90 calories, lite mayo nets about 35) or make sure to eat very lightly for the rest of the day.  This soda size restriction is a bolder tool to educate consumers, but a tool nonetheless to reduce the amount of obese people and to show people how many calories they are sucking down blindly with their already calorie laden meals.  It puts up a tiny barrier between the consumer and an increase in pant size, but it’s not a barrier they cannot easily step over.

If you are a stubborn person who absolutely has to have 36 ounces of Mt Dew in front of you as you tear into your meal, then order two drinks.  If you are going to ignore all the health risks involved in overeating and consuming more calories than your body is built to handle, why not have it hurt your wallet?  Health care costs are up, in part, because of the expanding number of obese people in this country and the many health issues that come with carrying around pounds of fat your body is not built to carry.  We make smokers pay more for cigarettes that will most likely give them health problems in their future, so why not do the same with people who play Russian Roulette with their health?

I understand that I’m being extreme here, but underneath the surface, they are both the same exact thing.  If a person wishes to damage their health, after receiving the education to fully understand what kind of damage their doing, then they should definitely be inconvenienced in life and in their wallets.  How many frequent fliers have been annoyed by an obese seat mate and had their space encroached on for the entire flight?  How many people have had to deal with a rude smoker going through cigarette after cigarette at the table close by while trying to enjoy a meal?  Why is it wrong to be concerned with the rights of people living healthy rather than the “rights” of people treating their bodies like trash?

I do understand that there is a lot of upset because it feels as though the government is sticking their hands where they shouldn’t in controlling what we can drink.  But they are not controlling what we can drink.  Sodas aren’t all being switched over to diet.  Establishments aren’t getting rid of all regular sodas, Icees, and other non-diet options.  You can still go to the grocery store and get a case of regular Fanta and drink it all in one night if you wish.  All this ban is doing is making it more difficult for the general (and sometimes uneducated) public to blindly damage their health and bodies.  Is that so wrong?

Bloomberg spokeswoman, Samantha Levine, stated “we’ve heard these claims of pending apocalypse before when we proposed bold public health initiatives, and they have been proven false.  Critics predicted the end of tourism and that businesses would sink when we banned smoking in bars and restaurants, yet we’ve grown tourism to record levels and the restaurant and bar industry continues to grow.”  Some will hate the ban, some will frequent food joints less, some will just buy two drinks, and some will declare it all a failure.  Some businesses will see a slump, some will see an increase, and some will notice no change.  Life, as always, will take this ban and treat it as the small speed bump it is; we will learn to take a tiny bit of effort and just roll over it, finding that we’re just as good on the other side.


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on September 13, 2012, in Food, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. This post actually brings up a very interesting discussion. How far is too far when it comes to the group regulating the individual? It isn’t so much the ban itself that is controversial as it is what the acceptance of such a ban means for the regulation of free choice. A tax on things that are “bad” for you is one thing…an outright BAN is quite another. Being too sedentary isn’t healthy either. What about passing a restriction on how many hours of TV programing are “allowed” in a 24 hour period?

    I see what people are trying to do….my question is, should they really try to do it?

  2. I am with Thomas on this. I will have to respectfully disagree with you on this one JB. There is no end to the number of “good things” that laws are intended to provide. As wiser minds before me have stated, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I could write a whole post on this, but Im on the road for work and just read this over an omelette at Dennys so I dont have enough time now. Politicians will happily pass millions of similar laws and unfortunately for you, many of them will override the decisions you as a parent thought youwere once free to make for your child, and as an adult, thought u were free to make for yourself.

    Show me someone that thinks only 4 hours of TV is good for a child and I will show you ten people that think it should be 3 or 2 or 1 or none…and will pursue a law to force you to believe what they believe, and that is true for what you eat, how much gas you use, what your AC is set at, what kind of car you should drive, which hairsprays and makeup are safe for the environment, how much you should be recycling, what kind of paint you can use in your house, how many toys your kid should have, what your child should be taught even if its against your personal beliefs, how big a house you should own, how much you should donate, the type of milk you can drink, how much air you must maintain in your tire, how efficient your emergency generator is, how long someone is allowed to breast feed, at what age a kid has to go to school, how long a kid should play Xbox, what playground rides are unsafe, and on and on and on…and there are an endless parade of politicians and people and lobbyists with endless “good ideas” that will happily strip you of your right to make any decisions on your own and instead follow life as laid out for you by the “well intentioned.”

    Even today on Mishs blog, Congress is extending a law from the Patriot Act that allows Americans to have their emails read and stored, without a warrant. They even argue that having any oversight of this power or reporting any of their actions would be an invasion of the publics privacy. Get that? In other words they can read whatever they want on anyone they want and store anything they want about you but anyone overseeing this would be invading your privacy. Now remember, this all for YOUR protection against the evil under your bed. Which is a good idea, no matter what the Government has to do to us to provide it. There are a million more good ideas, like this one and like the soda ban, just waiting in the wings to regulate, manage, oversee, analyze, protect and control you.

  3. The main reason I don’t have a problem with this law is that it’s not regulating what we do in our homes, how we shop for groceries, how we eat in sit-down-and-be-served restaurants, how we get drunk in public, or anything else that would be considered extreme. For me, it’s very much like the ban on smoking in certain areas. You can’t do it here, but you’re free to smoke pack after pack elsewhere. Same with the sodas; you can’t pig out at McDonald’s, but you’re free to go home and do it. OR you can pay an extra buck and get two sodas if you’re that hooked on your Coke.
    That being said, I totally get where you and Thomas are coming from and I expect that many other intelligent people out there feel the same way. What pushed me to write this blog were the people who share your opinion BUT who have the mental capacity of a gnat and make godawful arguments in opposition to this law. They act like this is the end of the world and now no one is safe anywhere, that Burger King is going to go out of business and movie theaters everywhere are going to go into bankruptcy. This blog is aimed at them. I guess I got lucky that the comments thus far are from you guys and not one who would leave “OMGGGGG your fridge is next!!” and other nonsense.
    I suppose I’m optimistic in thinking that this law is truly to help the general public (those who aren’t quite intelligent enough to help themselves) and NOT the first step on a slippery slope to the government sticking their hands where they shouldn’t be going. Only time will tell I guess.

    • Finally off the road – so I can re-read all this again…

      Hm. Well. It’s a bit off topic, but parallel. The premise for the smoking ban was that second-hand smoke has, at least theoretically (and I would argue common sensically), some negative health impact on those around you when you smoke.

      Personally, I was not in favor of this ban, and I have never been a smoker, but I respect the right of smokers to do what they want with their own bodies – no different than I respect the right of beer drinkers (which also can have a negative effect on themselves and those around them; drunk driving, assault, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, murder, dialysis, etc…), or dare I say…a woman’s right to choose, where perhaps we could consider the effect of the transgression on the other “individual” being immediate, and quite terminal in every instance – as opposed to the minimal or more likely, nonexistent effect, on a second-hand smoke inhaler (and as a reminder, I am pro-choice, so my views on this, soda and smoking are all consistent – all based on individual freedoms.)

      Alternatively, I think the tons of carcinogenic exhaust clouds chugging out of everyone’s cars around me, say at a stoplight or in a parking lot, or drifting in the air all around me all the time, are killing me significantly faster than any smoke the random smoker exhales near me.

      I also felt that if people did not want to be around smokers, they would not frequent establishments that allowed smokers to smoke. The free market and a nation of laws where private property rights mean something (not so much here anymore but for argument’s sake…), there would be a natural solution to this problem.

      People that smoked, or did not care about breathing smoke, would visit establishments that allowed smoking. In essence, it would give the smokers a place to socialize together without society’s “down their nose” hatred. In offices, restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, etc… where private property is the supreme law, the owners of those businesses can choose to allow, or not allow, smoking – much like that restaurant in the news recently that did not allow children, and as a result saw their revenue increase as people wishing to have a child-screaming-free dinner packed the house. Those who did not approve of what this owner did, increased revenue at other venues that welcome children. Very simple. Very free market. A self-balancing mechanism. In the case of smoke, the ire of customers and their exodus to cleaner establishments, or the lack of ire in which case they stay, would determine for the property owner which course of action to pursue, in the name of profit.

      Other places would open up, advertising their smoke free atmoshphere, and those who don’t smoke or don’t like breathing smoke, would pack the house. If it came to pass that there were more non-smokers than smokers in the relevant population, the smoke filled places would either go out of business for lack of customers, or become smoke-free to draw back in the customers who fled to cleaner air, in the name of profit.

      This would all happen on its own…no laws needed.

      The other argument was that the staff had no choice if they did not want to work in a smoke filled bar. But that is not correct. Everyone has a choice. They can go work somewhere else doing the same job, or somewhere else doing a different job. In fact, they can go work at the new bars and restaurants that open up to cater to the people and families that are looking for a smoke-free venue and are abondoning the smokey places. If it comes to pass that smokey places are having a hard time attracting labor because nobody wants to work in that environment, then they will either have to pay more money in salaries to bring labor back in, or go out of business for lack of staff, or change their business model to one with cleaner air.

      If someone tries to argue that the employee has a right to keep their job, and if they don’t want a smokey place to work, that they should have that right – then I would say they are simply trampling one person’s right in liu of another. The smoker has rights to smoke. The bar owner has rights to offer a bar that allows smokers. The employee, the smoker and the bar owner all have equivalent rights. Who is anyone to say whose rights are more right than others rights? That is the path to Statism, where others get to decide who will decide who has more rights than others.

      I think that if a private business owner wants to pay, and can afford to pay, $30/hr (let’s say that is three times the local labor rate) to hire staff just so he can keep his venue smokey, and there are people who are more interested in making $30 an hour than they are concerned about the condition in which they work, they have a right to make that decision. Who am I to tell them they are not allowed to choose? Who am I to say that in a free country where two people, of their own free will, without coercion, can not enter into a mutually voluntary agreement where one is willing to work in a less than healthy condition, but in exchange for significantly more money? If they do not have that right, then they are not free; they are simply slaves to what other people decide is in their best interest, regardless of what their own personal interests are. That is a nanny state, that is Statism, and that is what is happening in this country, and in a nanny state, for every law you make to control someone else…someone else is making a law to control you…and in the end, we all become slaves to each other.

      There are many people that choose to work in inherently dangerous jobs. Fishing, logging, air line pilots, farming and mining are the most dangerous jobs, even above police and firemen. I don’t see any bans going on in those industries. The pay reflects the risks and people CHOOSE to participate in them anyway, for profit, and despite the risks. This is freedom in a free market.

      So we must choose. Are we free….ABSOLUTELY free…from each other, or do we all get on our knees and tell other people what they should do, and allow them to tell us what we should do, by force of law, at the end of a gun?

      You would have to admit, that the moment you believe that you have the right to force someone else to do, or not do something, that they must also, to be fair, have the right to force you to do, or not do something. Once you open that box, you are subject to what’s inside – and what you find inside is the judgement of others that you have judged, who are anxiously waiting to do unto you, as you have done unto them. That is the antithesis of freedom. And you know what else? There are way more of them, than you. Consider that.


      Freedom – the freedom to pursue the life of your choosing based on your own efforts, initiative, talents and education, to make as much or as little as you want, to be anything from a janitor to the President of the United States, to buy a small house in the country or a mansion in the Hollywood hills, to live a slow and happy life or a fast and happy life, or to be fat or thin. The concept and practice of Freedom, comes with a price.

      The price of freedom is the possiblity of failure.

      That some people are left alone, and free, to make bad decisions and hurt themselves or lead, “less than perfect” lives, or never be able to afford a house, or send their kids to private school, or buy a big screen TV, or get a Ferarri, or cruise the French Riviera or the million other things people complain about their lives on a daily basis, most of which is attributible to their own long line of bad decisions.

      That is not my problem. That is not your problem. That is their problem. If we assume control of them and make all their decisions for them, then they and others will assume control of us. If we can tell them not to smoke or buy large sodas because its bad for them, then they can look at what we drive, our the house we own, or the money we make, or how many toys our children have, or the quality of schools we send our children to, or the nice vacation we take, or how many TV’s we have, or how nice our rental is,…and you know what…they might not like that just like we didn’t like them drinking too much soda. And we have now given them the right to pass laws on us to correct what they see as a “wrong,” just like the laws we passed on them to correct what we saw as a “wrong.”

      What I mean to say here is that there are millions of “good ideas,” most of which will be good ideas for most OTHER people, but not to you, because it benefits them, and either does not benefit you, or takes something from you. Unfortunately, having started down this path, they will have the “right” to pass these laws despite your objection. This is majority rule. This is when the seven wolves and one sheep vote on what’s for dinner.

      Again, we are either ALL free from each other, or we ALL agree to be slaves to each other.

      It is a slippery slope covered in crisco and butter with a deep, dark black hole at the end of it.

      THE PRICE OF STATISM – (The deep dark black hole at the end of it)

      Statism – the freedom to pursue the life of our Government’s choosing, so that most people will not make bad decisions and hurt themselves, because Government will control most of the decisions that everyone used to make by themselves.

      Everyone will be subject to what everyone else thinks is, “fair” and “reasonable” and “right.” You will only be free to pursue the life of your choosing within the acceptable definition of the majority of those around you. If you make too little, you will be helped by those that make “too much.” If you make, “too much” then you will have to help those that make, “too little.”

      Laws and penalties will be created in response to a million “good ideas,” all of which support a healthier, more equal society where we all agree to help each other. Sounds like paradise.

      LIFE UNDER STATISM (Paradise)

      In order to reduce incidents of cancer, drunk driving and obesity; smoking is prohibited, drinking will be strictly controlled and soda usage will be monitored. Happy Meals will only have apples and/or broccoli with 95% lean turkey burgers and sweet potato fries with no condiments. “YUMMY!!!” says our new ‘Affordable Care Act’ mascot, Healthy Hugo the Hamster! Run hamster, run! Look at him go!

      In the interest of cleaner emissions and lower gas usage, tires will be fully inflated at all times within 3PSI of the tire limit. This is a ticketable offense if you are pulled over for any other infraction. All police will have pressure gauges distributed to them for patrol use. Rebates are available for air pressure pumps for use at home (paid for with ticket revenue). Make sure all pumps are CARB compliant in California to ensure low emissions.

      Every house will have maximum electricity usage caps, low flow toilets and showers. Water and natural gas usage will be strictly controlled to “protect our natural resources.”

      Recyling is mandatory and fines will be submitted monthly as per the “Recycle for America Program” managed by the Department for American Conservation. Any garbage collected not in a recycle container that contains more than 5% recyclable material will be levied a fine of 20% of your monthly garbage invoice. More than three such fines in one year will require a $500 penalty. All monies collected will be used for educational materials on recycling and as rebates for low income families that need assistance with their garbage collection costs and program and enforcement funding.

      To that end, irrigation will be severly limited so the Government asks that you particpate in their new, “Hardscape to Save Mother Earth” program which encourages home owners to abandon the wasteful practice of gardens, flowers, fruit trees and hedges for the more conservative, green and eco-friendly water saving practice of hardscaping; mastering the craft of using a variety of rocks, gravel, sand and cactus to create beautiful resource-preserving properties. Sign up now at the “GO GREEN!” Government website for more information. Rebates available for low income families. Apply on our website.

      Tax penalties will be imposed on those who buy, “too much” house. The definition for “too much” house is defined by the Department of the American Dream in their “Homes for the Homeless Program.” The penalty will be redistributed to a “low income housing fund” for applicants that wish to purchase a house but do not meet the minimum income or downpayment requirements. You can feel good about helping others afford the American Dream.

      From: The Department of the American Dream – “We Love What YOU Can Do…for others.”

      All individuals wishing to buy a car not meeting CAFE standards of 50mpg will be permitted to purchase the vehicle but assessed a $5,000 penalty to be redistributed to a fund to assist those who can not afford cars, for the purchase of a hybrid car, through the Government’s new, “Green Cars for Poverty Program.” Without this program, many impoverished citizens would have no means of getting to a job interview, or a job. Your contribution creates jobs!

      All fast food and junk food purchases will be penalized with an “obesity prevention tax” of 20% that can only be rebated to the consumer based on the maintenance of a minimum level of health to be reviewed annually by a government licensed “Affordable Care Act” Doctor who will provide you with Form HWB-29K to be submitted with your annual tax return. Failure to submit form or maintain a healthy lifestyle means forfeiture of your rebate to the State in order to fund ongoing Government grants for the study of obesity in America and the President’s recently announced and well received, “War on Obesity.”

      It was recently determined that wood burning fireplaces add measurable levels of CO2 to the atmosphere and trace elements of toxins (per EPA) are released during the burning of wood in these fireplaces. The EPA has determined that wood burning poses significant health consequences to the inhabitants of these homes, especially the children, and as a result, all homes with wood burning fireplaces will no longer be allowed to burn wood in them and the selling of wood will only be permitted to licensed wood distributors for government approved purposes (and to government employees who hold a DRF-1 exemption card).

      Restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve more than one alcoholic drink, of no more than the equivalent of one shot of alcohol, to any one individual during one sitting. Please use the Government CONV-45T conversion card for the various alcohol equivalent calculations.

      All those persons wishing to buy alcohol from a government permitted alcohol distributor must apply for a ALC-RT5-7B alcohol permit. A background check will be peformed to ensure that you have never had a felony, or a DUI or any other infraction involving alcohol and that alcoholism does not run your family, and that there are no outstanding government leins or requirements on you, and a card will be issued to you in the mail from the Department of Citizen Health and Well-Being. This card is linked to a database that when swiped, will allow you to buy one “ALC” per week. An ALC is equal to one six pack of beer every two weeks, two bottles of wine every two weeks, or one bottle of hard liquor per month. The reselling or redistribution of this alcohol is forbidden. Failure to comply will result in the cancelation of your ALC priviledges, as will any infraction involving alcohol, or failure to file a tax return, register your car or pay your property taxes. Anyone arrested for an alcohol related infraction after having consumed alcohol on your property will also result in the revokation of your permit. From the DCHWB, “We want to thank YOU…for saving lives!”

      Get the idea? These are all wonderful, excellent, beneficial ideas that support the health and well being of citizens from coast to coast. Makes me proud to be part of the USSA.

      We’re slipping down the slope towards these at record speed as we speak.


      Freedom, and the free market, is a beautiful, self-balancing mechanism.

      However, the free market doesn’t get anyone elected, and that is what is important here. Politicians spend their time coming up with new laws because they sound good on the surface, it makes for good sound bites and video clips on the 6 o’clock news, it gives them something to stump about as they campaign around their town, county, state or the country as to all the “good” they’ve done and why they should be re-elected.

      The “good” of course is 90% for others and not for you. If you work hard and do not need government help, you and your opinion and your vote are absolutely USELESS to a politician.

      Politicians need to justify their existence and the truth is, we do not need, and have never needed, much Government at all. For 90% of our history, Government was teeny-tiny and did almost nothing, while the United States was free (from Government) to become the most prosperous and powerful land in the world with the highest standard of living ever achieved. Our greatness was achieved when Government was small and insignificant. Our self-destruction is being achieved at the same speed as the growth of Government.

      Sodas. Seems so small, doesn’t it? Really not worth talking about. But therein lies the beautiful evil of it. Freedom is not lost by the wrecking ball, it is lost a spoonful at a time. Quietly. Slowly. Imperceptibly. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh……..

  4. These sorts of laws are so difficult to argue against because of the intention behind it. That’s what makes this such an interesting post.

    Having said that, I think we are WAY past the first step on the slippery slope. In fact, sometimes it seems like we’re almost near the bottom. Then again, I’m more of a pessimist. 😀

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