I had never seen soft drinks before I joined sixth standard.
Coca Cola cans hit the shops, and everyone was trying it out. It was a novelty drink, a point of fascination. Anything new to hit the market is met with fascination. Facebook. Smartphones. In the 1990s, Coca Cola was the novelty that struck the public. My friends and I tried it innocently. Apparently so did the rest of the Chennai population (if not all of India). Before we knew it, stocking soft drinks to serve guests was the new social norm. And without anyone’s conscious knowledge soft drinks became an integral part of our lives.
Fascination of the Fizz
When you open a soft drink can, it opens with a fizz.
When I purchased a coca cola can in sixth standard, I was with a friend of mine. “I don’t want you to share your soft drink with me, but I want to open the can. I love the fizzing sound when I open the can”, he told me. “You’re welcome to share it with me, but I want to experience the fizz myself”, I replied.
The fizz was a genius marketing move, if other kids had the same fascination as my friend and I.
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg reports how Pepsodent introduced the fresh mint taste in toothpaste, which does nothing to protect our teeth, but makes our mouth feel good. Coca Cola can’s fizz provides a similar ‘aha’ consumer experience.
I Drank One Mountain Dew a Day in Second Semester of College
Mountain Dew has to be the best drink ever invented.
It is elixir on earth.
Anything that tastes good is likely to be bad for you.
I didn’t know this at the time.
Every day when I went to college, before my sophomore math class, I would purchase a cold Mountain Dew from the vending machine.
It was so frickin’ awesome.
So awesome that when I reminisce those good ol’ mountain dews, I feel thirsty for a Mountain Dew now.
I’ve had teeth issues plaguing me all my life, and was lucky to be introduced to Dr. Dean Phass. When he heard I was drinking one Mountain Dew a day, Dr. Phass’s friendly smile disappeared. “All that sugar is so bad for your teeth”, he told me. This was news to me. I didn’t realize that soft drinks were bad for your teeth.
I took Dr. Phass’s word seriously and cut down on my Mountain Dew consumption.
“You Don’t Drink Alcohol? Thats Fine, Grab a Soft Drink”
I don’t drink alcohol.
When I go to parties, the host asks me if he can fix me a strong drink. When I confess that I don’t drink alcohol, he is very understanding. “That’s all right”, he smiles. “Just have some soft drinks”.
Now, try telling the host that soft drinks are bad for your health, as well. He’ll look at you as if you’re an alien from another planet. He’s made a concession to refrain from judging you for not drinking alcohol – and the goody-two-shoes that you are, you don’t drinks soft drinks?
Who do you think you are?
Advertising Genius has Popularized Soft Drinks
The major soft drink companies spent Rs. 900 crores on advertisement in 2021.
That is a lot of money.
They are masters in leveraging the power of advertisement.
Normal people feel they are immune to advertisement – “Advertisements work on others, never on me.”
The pros know better – advertisements work on everyone.
And with 900 crores worth of money spent on advertisement across various media outlets, the average consumer will consume soft drinks more often than not.
Carbonated Water with Plenty of Sugar – How Can That Be Good For Health?
Going back to the basics – how can soft drinks be good for us?
Soft drinks are just carbonated water with sugar. Lots of sugar. And caffeine.
Let us do the math – 2 + 2 + 2 equals soft drinks are bad for health.
A vast majority of the population suffers from obesity, diabetes and other diseases that were not present 100 years ago. The focus on research and cure for diseases is good, but shouldn’t we pay more attention towards preventing these diseases?
And isn’t food the obvious place to direct our focus?
We Have a Duty to Care For Our Body
Our body is a temple.
We have a duty to feed our body with nourishing food, so that the body takes care of us. We have, however, been conditioned to like food and drinks that may not serve us well.
A reboot is in order.
Knowing what is good for us and what is not is a good first step. Knowledge doesn’t automatically translate into action. We must give ourselves ample time (several years even) to work towards a diet that serves us well.
Consuming soft drinks occasionally and mindfully is a good first step.
Image Credit: Angelina Yan from Unsplash