Drink ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

Well, it’s that time of year again. The NBA finals! (Sound of cheering fans.) Who will it be this year, the Warriors or the Rockets? Perhaps the East will dominate with the Cavaliers or Celtics. Who knows? Either way, we are in for some great competition. (I hope no one sprains a pinky finger. That would be devastating.) The thing is, although those teams are great, they really don’t know what heavy competition is like. I am of course, referring to the ultimate competition, (Dun Dun Duuh), The Grocery Store Drink Aisle.

Drinking is serious stuff nowadays. I mean, when I was a kid we drank Kool-Aid, dad drank Miller’s, and mom had a cup of coffee. There was the rare occasion when Coke or Pepsi showed up in the house, but that was like the heavens opening up and a blessing bestowed by God. Sweet drinks were just not done.

Now if you look down the soft drink aisle there are over fifty brands and flavors, like Mountain Cool Baja Fruit Blaster Infused with Yummeration. Don’t let the name fool you this mess translates down to sugar and water.  Speaking of water, there is an entire second aisle for water, and iced tea. I don’t get it at all. Water is just water. How can there be 500 flavors? And if you’re still thirsty after all that, there are additional aisles for juices, and one for hot drinks, including two hundred forms of coffee. And this doesn’t even include the three or four areas you might find beer and other adult beverages.

Let’s take coffee for example. Seems pretty simple right? Not so much! The coffee area has hundreds of different options. Roasted, ground, flavored, gourmet (French, for more expensive), even pre-eaten and regurgitated. (Yes, it exists look it up) With all that you still must choose brewed or instant. I’m sooo confuuused! On a side note, did you know that Maxwell House is said to be the most popular coffee in America? Did you additionally know that Starbucks is the most popular coffeehouse in America? However, you will never find a cup of Maxwell House at Starbucks. How can this be? I would think that would be uber popular. But no, ask a barista for Maxwell House and you will be chastised severely, and given a stern lecture on the virtues of small-batch coffee and why grocery stores can never make the grade. Yet grocery stores sell more coffee than Starbucks. Amazing, you say? (or maybe you don’t)

On a side note to my side note, did you know that coffeehouses make a drink which is nothing more than a very strong half cup of premium coffee which has been diluted by water? Can anybody tell me why they would do this? I want to shake the hand of the person who came up with this idea. They figured out a way to make good coffee worse and charge people extra for it. Is this a great country or what?

Okay, back to what I was talking about two paragraphs ago. If you need to take a moment to remember, don’t worry about it I’ll wait till you catch up. (La la la.) Are you with me again? Great, so let’s go on. Competition among soda pop is more intense, than you can possibly imagine. Not only do the big names compete with each other, generics, and specialty houses. No, that competition isn’t enough for them. They compete against themselves! That doesn’t make any sense at all but look at the aisle. There’s Coke, traditional Coke, Diet Coke, various flavors of Diet Coke, various flavors of regular Coke, and the mystery Coke they put in a black can. I have tried many of these. (I’m calling it research so I can deduct the money I paid. Don’t tell my accountant.) I don’t mean to be rude, but they all taste pretty much the same. I want to know what genius decided competing with ourselves is a good idea. I bet he got a bonus for it.

Next, we come to water. I understand that not everybody has good water coming into their house, so if you tell me filtered water is better I believe you, even though I used to drink from the hose when I was kid. But that’s not good enough in the competition world. In that world, we need mineral water. But even mineral water isn’t enough, it must be from a spring in France. And if you don’t have a spring in France you can still sell water by filtering your tap water and adding minerals. Read the labels on the water you’re buying: that’s what it is folks. There is also the issue of flavored water. Now, water isn’t water anymore: it’s infused with flavor, which you really can’t taste. And if that isn’t enough, you can get alcoholic water both flavored and unflavored. Just think of it: you can get blasted to the gourd, and still be healthy. Gosh, is that great or what?

Now for a bit of education. The word hydration means to add water to something. That being said, why do the makers of sports drinks tell you not to drink water to be hydrated? Oh no, you must drink sugar preservatives and artificial flavors so that you can remain hydrated. Next, for proper hydration you must drink a certain mix of sugar and flavor before you exercise, a different one during exertion, and yet another when you’re done. Consequently, for one trip to the gym you need to buy three bottles of drink. Let’s hear it for marketing. That doesn’t include the energy drink you chugged before you got there, because you were feeling a little down.

Now, the public has only so much money for their drinking budget. Therefore, the competition for that money increases. Subsequently, the bottlers need to get endorsements from famous people who don’t drink their product. They also must advertise and paste their name all over everything. And you thought the NBA had competition. Soft drinks are much more competitive. Hard drink manufacturers are much less so because, frankly, they’re probably drinking their product.

Now for some fun. In the beginning of this essay I mentioned the teams in the NBA finals, and like everyone else in the public eye I have to make a prediction. So, with all the due fanfare here is my prediction for the NBA finals. Drumroll please. The one who will definitely come out on top is… The company that controls the drink concession.

If you have comments, want to discuss why Han Solo should be president, or have me take a sideways view at your favorite topic. Send me an E-Mail at ohhssidewaysview@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you!

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