Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why is My Soda So Big?

I don't drink much soda. I don't have a taste for it, fake sugar gives me headaches and it seems like (is) a huge waste of money and calories.  That said, when I was running my most recent 1/2 marathon, at mile 11, someone handed me a small cup of coke and it was the most delicious thing I think I've ever tasted.

Since I had just run 13 miles, I decided to treat myself to a coke on my drive home from the race.  I stopped at Burger King and ordered a small coke.  I was shocked when they handed me a 16 ounce cup that just looked huge.  Even though coke was the thing I wanted most in the world right then, I certainly didn't want that much.  I drank about half of it and started to feel ill, but then I felt wasteful for wanting to throw it out and had a little more.

This is why the whole ban on large sugary drinks in New York seems like a good idea to me.  When you get more than you want, you drink more than you want.

BF and I visited Niagara Falls a few years back and stopped at Tim Horton's on our way across the border (this is a funny story, bear with me).  I ordered a small cappucino because I love those terrible powder + water cappucinos that you get at a gas station or a Tim Horton's and I only buy then on long roadtrips.  In Niagara Falls, Ontario, I ordered a small and received a 12 ounce cup.  Then we crossed the border into New York state and a few hours later stopped for a bathroom break. I decided to treat myself to another Tim Horton's cappucino, and found that when you order a small in America, it's 16 ounces.  Same brand, same logo, same delicious flavor--difference sizes.

 The other side to the argument, in my mind, is that by ordering the larger size, you reduce the amount of packaging used.  If I had gotten a 16 ounce cappucino in Ontario, would I have wanted another once we got back to the states?  Would I have wasted two cups? If someone actually wants 44 ounces of soda, shouldn't they just get it all in one cup instead of buying two?

I go back and forth on this idea all the time, which is odd for someone who doesn't really order beverages other than beer (which comes in a reuseable cup or recyclable bottle/can).  When I order a 16 ounce coffee at a coffee shop, no matter how tired I think I am when I get it, by the time I've had about 12 ounces, the stuff that's left is cold and gross and I don't want it.  Similarly, the last few drinks of my precious Burger King coke were watered down and kind of ruined the experience.  But I love value!

It's a strange debate and I hate to seem like we need to be saved from ourselves, but we probably need to be saved from ourselves.  I've got a pretty well-honed sense of discipline, but I still snack if food is around and I still drink more soda than I actually want.

I'm curious how other people feel about this.  If the government interfering by limiting the size of sugary drinks, or are the just stopping us from killing ourselves?


  1. Drinks are definitely a lot bigger these days it seems. And also where I live, the bigger you go, the less it costs. I'm not sure why! I can get a large drink for around $1 at most places, but if you want a small then it is almost always MORE at McDonalds and the gas stations around here.

    1. Exactly! I remember even back in High School, it was frequently 99 cents for a 2-Liter of soda, but $1.29 for a 20oz. What??

  2. I always order the smallest size at starbucks because i know i just dont need that much coffee. also, i used to work at a movie theatre when i was 16 (um, 12 years ago!?) and the small then is VASTLY different than a small now. I order the small and they're always trying to upsell me and I'm like "are you kidding?! I can't drink that much soda!"
    I dont know about new york...on one hand, i get it, on the other, i feel its a stereotypical nanny law. I'm torn, really.

    1. Businesses certainly won't do it on their own, but yeah, nanny laws... I seriously go back and forth on this one all the time.

  3. The problem is even a ban on big soda will do very little, if anything, to promote healthy choices!