Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Love New York

New York City recently passed a soda size ban, much to the annoyance of fast food establishments and movie theaters and anybody else who makes a living selling drinks larger than 16 oz to people (that's about 500 mL--your average soda bottle in the US is 20 oz).  It's part of the mayor's idea of getting people to live better.  Whether it'll work...well, let me put it this way:  you can still buy 2 L bottles of your favorite fizzy sin in the grocery store, and you can still buy six-packs.  What you can't do is ask McDonald's to supersize your soda when you order a Big Mac, but you can go to a 7-11 and get a massive 64 oz Big Gulp.  That's about 2 L of soda, FYI--bigger than most family-bottles (1.5 L) here.

Yeah, I'm not seeing how it makes sense, either.

But regardless of the actual effects of the soda size ban, I found it highly amusing that it would be so hotly contested.  Because, you see, in the Netherlands, if you sit down at a restaurant and order a soda, you get the dinkiest serving of soda--one 8 oz bottle, and that costs €2--and most of the time, you don't even get any ice.  I'm pretty sure that you can get larger servings at McDonald's, but as we haven't been to McDonald's for forever, and I can't remember how big the sodas were there (if anybody wants to fill me in, please do).  I seem to recall that 500 mL (or maybe it was 375) was either the only size available, or the largest.  Either way, since they don't do free refills, you're still not drinking as much soda as you'd be drinking in the US (at least, in the New York that I visited a few years ago).

The strange thing, though, is that in the Netherlands, while you can't get a Big Gulp to save your life, you can buy an enormous puntzak of frites and nobody will think any less of you for doing so.  Even small puntzakken contain about as much as a large order of fries, and if you go to some of the smaller, "pricier" establishments (in quotes because it's rarely more than €3), they use lard to fry up their frites.  And on top of all that, the Dutch smother them with mayonnaise (except it's saus, so if you want ketchup or anything else, you have to specify which sauce).   Happily, you can usually order a smaller bakje, which contains about 1/2 as much as a  puntzak, but the whole thing does make you wonder who orders the large ones.

We, personally, are not big junk food eaters--soda is mostly absent from our pantry or fridge (there is a not-unrealistic probability that the Little It will not know what soda is until he starts school) and frites are a rare event, bordering on geological time scales.  It's not out of health concerns, oddly. It's because there's so much other tasty goodness to be had, why settle for something as boring as a giant soda and bucket of fries?  And that's what else puzzles me about the ire against the soda size ban: You literally cannot escape delicious food when you're in New York.  Why would anybody want a giant bucket of sugar water instead?


  1. It can't be good drinking that much 'sugar water'. Not just because of the issue of putting on weight but because of how it must stress your body by putting that much fast burning energy into it. Can't be good.

  2. I don't have anything against soda, but having that much of anything is just gross. Even frites.