June 24, 2012
I was in an airport last week (not that unusual, I’m afraid), where I passed an advertisement encouraging me to “Get a sweet fix”. Seemingly in answer to the question I posed at the conclusion of last week’s blog, the billboard was promulgating a “special”. It turns out that the “special” is two Krispy-Kreme donuts and a 20 ounce bottle of Coke. “Now, that just ain’t right,” I catch myself saying. Of course I suppose that if you happen to be a cyclist who is just preparing to launch into one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France, the 640 calories you would get from two Krispy-Kreme donuts and a 20 oz. Coke might come in handy. And it’s not like all those calories are coming from sugar. According to Krispy-Kreme, 220 calories from the donuts would be coming from fat. But then, if you were a cyclist preparing to launch into one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France, you probably wouldn’t be walking through an airport. But perhaps I’m just obsessing over a minor detail on that point.
All of which got me thinking about that unforgettable tune from my youth:
What happened to that funny face
My little tomboy now wears satin and lace
I can’t believe my eyes you’re just a teenage dream
Happy birthday sweet sixteen
That was Neil Sedaka, but I was actually thinking about another New Yorker, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has proposed a regulation that would limit the size of sugared beverages sold in New York City to sixteen ounces. A 16 oz. Coke still has 194 calories, all from sugar, so I think that this still pretty well qualifies as a sweet sixteen. But the Mayor’s idea is that the limitation would nudge residents toward more healthy diets.
Of course, this eminently reasonable suggestion was met with outrage on the part of the Great Satan otherwise known as “the food industry”. According to them hinting to people that maybe 16 oz. of liquid sugar might be enough for one meal by requiring that those who absolutely insist on consuming a diet guaranteed to bring on the early onset of Type II diabetes purchase a second serving is obviously a violation of rights secured for American citizens by the original Founding Fathers in our Constitution. And I’m talking about the original Founding Fathers here, not that knock-off group of posers currently inhabiting the sacred halls of Congress.
I’ll be off to Washington DC later this week to give those buffoons a good piece of my mind. And maybe I can score some donuts and a Coke, too.
Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University