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The Decline of ‘Big Soda’ (2015) (nytimes.com)
32 points by deegles 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

This article is from 2015.

Since then, Philly was able to pass a "soda tax" which went into effect Jan 2017. In it's first year, it raised $78.8M.


I was in Chicago last summer and they had the now-repealed soda tax, or whatever they called it. A penny per ounce. So my fountain drink was something like an extra 16 cents.

Why? 16 cents on a $2.99 drink isn't going to make anyone think twice. It even applied to diet soft drinks that contained no sugar!

It is surprising to me that this is being shown as a failure. That seems like pretty decent revenue, all told. Curious to know what the cost to the city was.

Coke reentered my life with their new Coke Zero formula. I sincerely love it, I just hope science will come up with a cure for the horrible disease this will eventually induce in me.

That's a great article. Really describes how we Americans really are, and how we expect some modern marvel for whatever ails us. Really explains how snake oil salesman are allowed to exist.

Snake oil salesmen are documented as far back as history goes, and in preliterate societies. I wouldn't look to "American culture" or "modern marvels" for explanations.

Not just Americans...

Stupid question: what medical ailment do you reliably get from drinking 60 oz of Diet Coke every day? Frequent urination? Caffeine crashes?

Its about 75mg of caffeine per 20 oz of cola, so even at 60oz you’re not doing yourself any harm. While I don’t drink soda, I’d much rather drink 60oz of diet soda than what I see dozens of people drinking from Starbucks. Unless you’re popping No-Doze along with your cola, you’re not even approaching the potential harm of drinking a frappe’d sheet cake.

I only suggested that because I seem to get an unusually bad caffeine crash with sodas despite having moderate content, compared to coffee. Maybe it's just me.

I can think of a few reasons why that might be. You might typically drink more soda than coffee in a sitting, so you just might ingest more caffeine when you drink soda. It’s also possible that coffee has some alkaloids that moderate the release of caffeine into your system, the same way that tea and coffee do. Finally, you might drink varieties and brews of coffee with low caffeine, such as darker roasts and mild brews.

Yup that's where I blatantly stole the joke from, it's a great one too as it fit my situation perfectly at the time.

Do you mean the new Coke Zero Sugar in the US? I actually prefer the old version as the new one tastes a little more like Diet Coke.

I heard an ad for Coke Zero Sugar and grew confused over why they would add sugar to Coke Zero.

It needed a new name because it has a new recipe and flavor. Despite what indications you might get from the seeming random duration of shelf lives depicted on drink "best by" dates, sodas can easily spend a year or more in channel. So there had to be a clear indicator of whether you were getting the old or new drink.

Sounds like you'll enjoy new Diet Coke Zero Sugar Zero then. All the flavor of Coke Zero Sugar but now without the sugar.

I live in Germany, Coke Zero Sugar is what they called it. They changed the packaging a bid and ran some campaigns but by the amount I see it available everywhere it must have taken off.

I cant stand it either. Switched over to diet dr pep and got the benefit of having more caffeine too.

The sugar replacements might change your gut bacteria in the long term. You probably will not notice this for a long time until there are seemingly unrelated symptoms showing up.

They really figured out something good with Coke Zero. It somehow tastes better than Diet Pepsi without being nearly as sweet.

Last summer Coca Cola Zero Sugar was awesome last summer.

At that point I preferred it to even Pepsi Max.

Then later last year it went back to very ordinary IMO.

Alzheimers and stroke are the ailments that you might hope to be curable soon if that were the case.

The study to which you refer described a minor observational link, did not differentiate by ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status, did not indicate what artificial sweeteners were under consideration, and--being sloppy but presumably at least baseline-honest researchers--made no indication that they believed there to be causation between diet soda drinking and these conditions.

It seems to me that with the lack of resources, and inability to separate out cause and effect of many foods that effect our biology, the rational reaction is to adopt a sort of cargo cult mentality. If we really have no idea whether sucralose is good or bad for us over a long period (or which conditions it even could be good or bad for us), if you want to maximize your healthy outcomes you just avoid it. Its pretty incredible to me just how little we really know about optimizing diets except in extreme situations.

Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt works great for the justice system, not so much for your one shot at life.

Gonna put down that cell phone with its brain-altering radio waves? While you're at it, going to move out to Green Bank so you don't get Wi-Fi'd?

Lots of people believe lots of things that have no material backing. This one is no different from any other.

You like your cell phone. I like my Diet Pepsi. The overwhelming odds--both being evidence-of-absence situations because that bad study, of course, is not the only study that applies to artificial sweeteners--are that neither the radio in your cell phone or the sucralose in my Diet Pepsi are going to have much of an impact on either of us.

I sure am glad that updates on Alzheimer's and dementia research are regularly posted on HN! Sure gives an impression of progress.

I gave up soda, it was tough, I've tried it a few times but finally did it this year.

I did it with a combo of green tea and the soda water + lemon/lime flavoring drinks. I'll also drink water and add lemon or lime juice.

I feel a lot better not drinking soda. If I need a pick me up I'll drink green tea. If I need something carbonated I drink a soda water/citrus drink.

Now if I take a taste of soda, it tastes awful, I don't think I'll ever go back to drinking it.

How is it giving up soda, if you replace it with soda water/citrus drink? I am a little confused. I guess your reduced your soda intake mostly by replacing it with green tea though.

'Soda' is generally considered to be the sugary stuff (Coke, Pepsi, etc). If you replace with soda water (effectively 0 sugar), then it's not unreasonable to say that you've given up on soda in a non-literal sense.

I think this is a clash of use of American-isms. Soda (stand-alone) is sugared soft drink. Soda Water, is usually carbonated water (sugar free, sometimes flavored)

> I think this is a clash of use of American-isms. Soda (stand-alone) is sugared soft drink. Soda Water, is usually carbonated water (sugar free, sometimes flavored)

IME, consistently, for my while life in the US, “Soda” (standalone) is (in general use, there are contexts where it means something else) a carbonated and flavored soft drink, whether or not it is sugared, while “soda water” is carbonated water without additional flavor.

y, it's mainly giving up the sugar and other bad stuff in coke and pepsi, etc.

soda water/sparkling water like perrier, etc. Just water CO2 and some fruit juice, 0 calories.

zero soda(coke/pepsi/mt dew) intake, now just bottled water, carbonated water/fruit juice and green tea if you need a boost.

I gave up pop a while back. I never drank coffee so breaking the caffeine addiction wasn't too hard after the three day hump. Also, because I would normally drink pop in the evening I get better sleep and actually feel better/more energized than I did when I drank caffeine.

My thought behind quitting was that there was no reason to be caffeinating myself every day. That way when I do need extra energy hopefully my tolerance will be lower.

One thing that I didn't see mentioned in the article are drinks like La Croix. Those seem to be taking the place of soda for a lot of people.

Agreed. I drink diet soda during the afternoon, but during the evening I switch to La Croix, because no caffeine. While there are some sodas that are caffeine free, they've always tasted off to me.

Sadly it was replaced by "bottled flavored sweetened water".

Some certainly has, but not all flavoured waters are sweetened. Particularly, La Croix seems to have picked up a national following in the last few years, alongside Perrier/San Pellegrino waters, cold brew coffee, and kombucha. And even those waters have way less sugar than soda.

I imagine that in the future giving a child any significant quantity of a super sugar liquid like soda might be seen as child abuse. The way it triggers the human brain isn't much different than illegal drugs.

Or the health effects will be held in the same regard as cigarettes. My dad started smoking when he was 12, it wasn't uncommon for kids to do that.

How bad is fresca for me? It's low calorie, and sugar free. It's got to be bad for me.

Even if it's 2015 not a moment too soon, there are 7 teaspoons of pure refined sugar in a 33cl can. The ascorbic acid is the only thing that makes us not throw up immediately after drinking it.

Sooner or later the 3 major addictive components that the food industry uses to grab customers need to be regulated: sugar, fat and salt.

Without regulation it results in an arms race, a new brand comes along and how do they grab customers? More salt, more fat and more sugar than the established brands.

For any progress to be made, there should a tax on these big 3 at once and not going after one product at a time.

My life is filled with pro salt anecdata, so I'm not convinced it's on the same level as sugar.

I'd be interested in seeing your anti salt sources.

Not salt per se, as much as the combination of salt, fat, and sugar leading to over-consumption of food.

If you're looking for a long-term investment trend that will last for many more decades to come, invest in companies that produce water, coffee, and tea. All the displaced soda sales are going to them.

In many (most?) cases, that company making water, coffee, and tea is Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Coke has been particularly prolific in this area.

Yes, true - Vitamin Water, Dasani, etc. have been good for them.


Are there any robust results about the potential long term health effects of artificial sweeteners yet? Last time I looked I had a hard time finding conclusive takeaways.

The rise of energy drinks, then low sugar / sugar free energy drinks killed soda for me. 160 calories of Sprite is just empty calories vs a 60 calorie Kickstart that has caffeine.

Most "energy drinks" are both functionally "soda" (though more expensive) and owned by "Big Soda". Kickstart is a Mountain Dew brand, which is a PepsiCo property. I'm not criticizing, mind--I really like the zero-calorie Monsters and I drink a lot of Diet Pepsi, though I seem to be the only person who likes the sucralose Diet Pepsi formulation whenever the topic comes up.

The only time sugared soda ends up in my house is at parties for mixed drinks, 'cause I still can't countenance Diet Coke in a drink. (Diet ginger ale is pretty okay with Jameson's, though.)

I drink a 10 calorie Monster Rehab almost every afternoon at work. It can't be much better for me.

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