This Week in Soda News
Soft drinks, soda, pop—whatever you call it, America’s favorite fizzy beverage has been causing quite a stir lately, and quite a bit of news today. Here’s what’s happening in the world of pop:
Steeler’s Switch from Coke to Pepsi: Remember the iconic Mean Joe Green/Coca-Cola commercial? Well, the 40-plus-year partnership between the iconic soft drink and the Pittsburgh Steelers has come to an end. When the contract between soda and sports team was on its last legs, the Steelers gave both Coke and Pepsi the opportunity to represent the team. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pepsi impressed the Steelers’ marketing team with opportunities for advertising and integration with other Pepsi products including Frito-Lay, Gatorade, and Tropicana.
Details are still vague, but because PepsiCo has a partnership with the NFL, opportunities will abound the next time the Steelers win the Super Bowl. Faced with little to no opposition from the Steelers corporation, it seems the transition has been smooth thus far, and attendees of the Kenny Chesney at Heinz Field were served Sierra Mist instead of Sprite. Coca-Cola is hardly suffering from the loss—they still hold the highest share in the U.S. soft drink market—41.9 percent, compared with PepsiCo’s 28.5 percent.
Snooki’s Sweet Soda: With all the health-conscious controversy about America’s love of fizzy, sugary beverages, soda has been getting a bad rap lately. While large sugary drinks may be banned in New York, reality star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s Jersey Shore is around to give the soft-drink industry the boost it might need. According to Food & Wine, the pregnant star has put down the cocktails for the time being and teamed up with Rocket Fizz Soda, the company behind Buffalo Wing and Apple Pie flavored soft drinks to create a limited edition Wild Cherry Soda. In true “guidette” fashion, the cans will be feature a hot pink leopard print and the drink will be sweetened with sugar-cane.
Proposed Soda Tax: Last week, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) proposed a federal tax on soda, as a measure that would mirror Mayor Bloomberg’s obesity-fighting soda ban, and take it to a national level. “We have to address the situation in the marketplace," CNS News reported DeLauro saying at a press conference on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "Right now, the least expensive beverages are often those with the least value to our health like regular cola or juice drinks that are only 10 percent juice. But I will tell you that if you’re paying $3.49 for juice and 79 cents for soda, if you are in a low-income family and you have to stretch the dollar…you’re going to go for the 79 cents.”
De Lauro has a point, but will the federal government take her advice? We’ll see if Bloomberg’s soda ban gets passed first.
New York Speaks Out Against Soda Ban: After a disappointing turnout at the Million Big Gulp March at the beginning of this month, it seems that New Yorkers are finally stepping up to fight the soda ban. Today, hundreds of New Yorkers gathered on the steps of City Hall to oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large-size soft drinks. Protestors also presented 90,100 protest petitions signed by New York citizens.
"We all want a healthier New York, but this ban isn't the way to go about it," City Council Member Letitia James said at the rally. "They say they're having an open hearing tomorrow. Will they open their ears and hear the tens of thousands of New Yorkers, business owners and others who oppose this ban?"
At a press conference this morning, a reporter asked the mayor if he was surprised by the strength of the opposition, to which he replied, “I don’t think there’s a negligible pushback whatsoever.” However, he added, “If you do the polls, 53% already say it’s going in the right direction, and that’s without getting them to really understand the issue,” he continued. “Compared to smoking, this is an easy battle to win and nothing’s going to stop this thing, in my impression.”
It’s a close race, and other polls found that the majority of New Yorkers oppose the ban. It’s only a matter of time until we find out if their voices were heard.