Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Life as a Pepsi Addict

My name is Rufus and I am a recovering Pepsi addict. I was powerless before carbonated and caffeinated sodas, often blowing through five or six dollars a day on Dr Peppers, Mountain Dew variants, or my drug of choice, Pepsi Cola. Like a nerdy computer programmer, I was seldom seen without a soda of some sort, or as they call it here in Ontario, “pop”. When I went to France for six months, the closest convenience store went out of business, two events I’m convinced were related.

It all stems from my childhood. My mother drinks an incredible amount of Diet Coke each day, which is a step up from when we were kids and we always had Coke Classic in the house. I guess my switch to Pepsi was teenage rebellion, but I’ve probably had three “pops” a day, at least, since I was sixteen. I also remember regional variations, like “Teem”, and Claire will attest that I still mourn the loss of Surge.

I’ve heard for years about how sodas aren’t good for you; each one has four teaspoons of sugar, or more often these days, copious amounts of corn syrup. They give you cavities and make you fat and impotent. I used to find this very irritating. After all, I did give up cigarettes, binge drinking, and most drugs. What’s the problem with pop?

But, I’ll admit that living in a town with a great number of older diabetics (Hamilton has a diabetes center), has had an impact. I’ve been “scared straight”! Also one reaches a point when approaching middle age in which you either change your bad habits or live with them forever. I was more determined to change a habit than improve my health, frankly.

Compared to quitting smoking, quitting pop was a tremendous ordeal. I don’t believe that “cold turkey” works, and so I’ve really just weaned myself down to a single weekly Pepsi. Believe it or not, just the first day was miserable. Making it through 24 hours without a Pepsi, something I’d not done for about 20 years, was agony; my head pounded, my heart raced, and I pretty much felt like I was trapped in a closed elevator. After I did that, however, it was easier to add a second day, and a third, etc.

My timing might be good. Last time I was in upstate New York, everyone was up in arms because the state wants to add a “sugary drink tax” to sodas. The voters are outraged. Of course, the state has a longstanding budgetary shortfall that everyone complains about too; while the voters rise up in outrage every time the state tries to raise taxes or cut any entitlements whatsoever. Last time I was there, people were protesting an idea to cut trash pickups to every other week. I guess my point is that American voters are crybabies.

But, as for pop, I’m on the wagon. Or, at least, I’ve become a “social drinker” instead of a “problem drinker”. I don’t know when someone’s going to give me a plastic chip, but it’s good to know that an aging dog can unlearn an old trick. Now, I just have to cut down my Internet usage to a reasonable amount.


gregvw said...

Oh my. It hurts my insides just to think of drinking so much soda. Up until my early teens, I drank it in huge portions as well, but the change in the Coke formula ended my childhood love for Coke and I switched to other sodas.

When I was working on my M.S. I drank exclusively Surge and in fact nearly filled my office (a disused dark room) with empty Surge bottles.

Now, I have pretty much lost my taste for the stuff. It's just too sweet. Diet soda has never been to my liking and I have a pretty strong dislike for artificially sweetened things in general.

You probably already know that in Europe, sodas are sweetened with sugar instead of HFCS.

Rufus said...

Yeah, I drank a lot of real sugar pop while in France. Now that I'm drinking coffee all week and Pepsi on Saturday mornings, I'm definitely starting to understand what you mean about the excessive artificial sweetness.

Anonymous said...

3/day is not a habit, it's a passing curiosity.

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