Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Coca Cola sign near Oaxaca, Mexico.
(Click images to view large)

Soda has been in the news lately, with Bloomberg's move to attempt a ban on enormous drinks sizes in New York City to slow the obesity epidemic.  I have to admit that his effort seems random and unlikely to make any difference, though I appreciate that the problem is getting air time as a result.  The bigger issue is the ubiquitous marketing--especially to kids.  Thankfully, Bei doesn't like "fizzy drinks," so we haven't had to fight that fight in our house, but many of her friends are already into the soda.  I used to drink Coca Cola in my youth, before I discovered the pleasures of coffee, but now I rarely touch the stuff.

An exception though, is the comfort of an ice cold soda during international travel, when water can be more problematic and less available, ironically.  I remember on my first international trip--in the 1980s to climb in the Andes--how nice it was to find orange Fanta for sale from little shacks along trails high in the mountains.  Or how refreshing a truly cold Coke tastes in steamy Bangkok when it's still too early for an ice cold beer.  

Although Coca Cola and it's ilk are found the world over, there are also odd local variants on soda. In Oaxaca, there were advertisements for Manzanita soda (without rival!).  Somewhere overseas (I can't remember where), I tried a local soda, alarmingly yellow, that tasted like bubble gum.  I spit it out, and moved on.  In Peru, soda was often sold by street vendors in plastic bags with a straw.

Perhaps at our core we're all like hummingbirds--irresistibly attracted to sugar water and the bright red signs advertising it.  But unlike hummingbirds, we don't have little wings to flap hundreds of times per minute to burn off the extra calories.  I guess I'll have another cup of coffee. 

Manzanita, without rival.  Oaxaca, Mexico.

Hand made advertisement, Western Kazakhstan.

Sprite, melon market, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.

Coca Cola at a field day, Kukanga School, rural Uganda.

Coca Cola umbrella, Kampala, Uganda.

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