New Yorkers may wean themselves from sugar, but it will never happen here. Philadelphians will give up a limb before they’ll part with their 96-ounce Pepsi’s or Mountain Dew’s.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week proposed a ban on the sale of sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces at thousands of restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, sports venues and bodegas. If passed, the anti-obesity measure could kick in by spring.
Smart money says the New York measure will pass, if for no other reason than Bloomberg, arguably America’s most health-conscious mayor, is a proven closer. Having won bloody wars against smoking (in bars and restaurants, city parks and beaches) and trans fats, sugar will be like Grenada for Bloomberg.
Still, 16 ounces is an arbitrary number. Slobs who routinely ingest soda by the keg will simply buy two—or three or four—16-ounce cups at a time. Not only will the extra containers be bad for the environment, they will slow down the already borderline-catatonic vendors.
On the other hand, if the prospect of juggling multiple cups or making repeated trips to the snack bar cuts down on sugar consumption, and therefore makes a dent in obesity, that is a good thing.
Quick sidebar: If you lock down super-sized soft drinks in the name of public health, why stop there? What about those 40-ounce bottles (“40s”) of malt liquor so popular in the hood?
Unlike with our neighbors to the north, there aren’t enough spoonsful of sugar in Philadelphia to help Mayor Nutter’s medicine go down.
Nutter’s proposed city tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages—including soda, iced tea and chocolate milk—has gone nowhere since he announced it in March 2010. The soda lobby has made sure of that.
Tax it, limit it, ban it altogether, doesn’t matter. Philadelphians are fat, happy and full of sugar, and they intend to stay that way. SunnyD trumps orange juice. Funnel cakes are better than sex. How else to explain a city in which Cheez Wiz and Krimpets are food groups?
Given how much Philadelphians love to drink sugar, it’s nice to fantasize about how an extra two cents per ounce in taxes could help the bankrupt public school system, for example. Not gonna happen. Locals won’t give up their sugar or pay extra for it, and that’s that.
Philadelphia, the place that loves you back, especially if it’s big.