Sugar!

Afternoon all,

This week i’ve been thinking about sugar.  We all love sugar, don’t we?  Billions of years of evolution have honed our lizard-brains to crave sugar, and to seek it out wherever they find it.  This urge is all the stronger early in the morning, where the waking body demands energy.   In the African Savanah, a hundred thousand years ago, this would have been in the form of fruit.  Well, no longer!

Every morning, we are assailed with a zombified horde of bleary-eyed construction workers, truckers and highway maintainance people.  They shamble into the shop seeking energy before they go to their jobs.  Their physically intensive jobs.  Their jobs that involve actual – er – labour.  Hours before even the sun can be arsed to rise, they are forced to. I share in their pain. At that godforsaken hour, they barely have the strength to grunt some pithy response to my pithy greeting.  They demand sugar.  I cater for that demand.

Some of them demand nicotine as well.  But, according to the morons that make the rules, there’s a difference between sugar and nicotine.  We are forced to go through a great deal of bullshit to sell tobacco.  We keep it behind the counter.  We deny people under a certain age the right to buy it.  We slap warning stickers on the packaging.  We slap images of deformed corpses on the packaging – horrible, disproportiate, worst-case-scenario stuff that no smoker is remotely likely to experience.  Pretty soon, we’ll have entirely blank packaging.  I’ll probably blog on it when it happens.

Well, I would contend that refined sugar in sufficient quantity (that bit is quite important), is comparable to tobacco in terms of harm caused to the body.  Fuck, if you whack up the portion size enough it’s comparable to crystal meth.  And, as with chocolate, the portion size has inflated beyond all proportion.  Relentless/Monster came along with their half-litre cans of industrial slime, and Red Bull soon had to follow suit.  If we were to be consistent, we would probably stick a warning sticker on a can of energy drink.  A picture of a morbidly obese man with no teeth, eyes brimming with tears as he struggles ineffectually to get out of bed.  Maybe a subtle message might accompany this image, along the lines of: ‘this will be YOU, bitch!’

You might recall my analysis of the sugar content of an absurdly substantial chocolate bar.  Well, let’s go there again, shall we?

Drink (500ml can) Sugar Content (grams)
Relentless 50.5
Monster 54
Red Bull 55

No-one reads the label, though, do they?  They just want sugar.  And they’ve got sugar.  Fifty-five grams of sugar, which, it turns out, is quite a lot.  God fucking help the people who pick up two of these monstrosities.   Let’s take a banana.  A banana isn’t even a naturally occurring fruit.  It’s been bred to be very tasty – ie. sweet.  You know how much sugar is in the average banana?  Fourteen grams.  So, we’re stuffing four bananas in our mouths before work.  That seems excessive to me.

What’s a gram, anyway?  How many teaspoons to a gram?  Some googling tells me it’s four.  So twelve teaspoons of sugar to a can of relentless.  Let’s leave the science bit out for now.  Let’s just use our intuition to figure out whether this is a good thing or not.  Let’s use a thought experiment (or an intuition pump, as they’re more accurately referred to).  Let’s say you’re making tea for some of your friends.  You ask them how many sugars they take in their tea.

“None for me, I’m sweet enough.”

“I’ll have one.  No, wait.  One-and-a-half.”

“I’ll be a devil.  I’ll have twelve!”

Have you noticed that one of your friends, in this hypothetical scenario, has gone insane?  Well, if that’s the case, everyone has gone insane, because everyone is buying this shit.

While researching this information I found that, to their credit, Coca Cola are the only company to display this information on their website.  While hunting on the Monster website I was presented instead with this quite interesting marketing material:

“Tear into a can of the meanest energy supplement on the planet, MONSTER energy. We went down to the lab and cooked up a double shot of our killer energy brew. It´s a wicked mega hit that delivers twice the buzz of a regular energy drink. MONSTER packs a vicious punch but has a smooth flavour you can really pound down.”

Admit it.  You thought the crystal meth comparison was absurd, didn’t you?  You thought my words were selected flippantly, and my intention to create humour at the expense of factual accuracy.  Well, what say you now, doubters?  Even the marketing department at Monster – the people paid to persuade people into drinking Monster – are on my side.

You went to your ‘lab’?  You ‘cooked up a double shot’?  Who wants to put anything in their mouth that got ‘cooked up’ in a fucking ‘lab’?  What’s with the violent language, anyway?  I don’t want a drink that’s ‘mean’, and certainly not ‘killer’; nor do I want it to pack a ‘punch’, especially not a ‘vicious’ punch.  I don’t want to ‘tear into’ anything.  I don’t want to ‘pound’ anything down.  What sort of fucking Neanderthal finds this sort of language appealing?  The primitive ape-men from the start of 2001: A Space Oddessy would turn their noses up at this shit!

It’s as though these people are like villains from James Bond films; they know they’re poisoning everyone, but can’t resist the urge to tell everyone that they’re doing so, and so they drop a load of not-so-subtle hints.  Should I, as the retailer, be participating in this?  Should I too be dropping hints?

“Enjoy your drink.  It’s dead good!”

“I’m sorry but this voucher has expired…let’s hope you don’t.”

“You’re going to die!  HAHAHAA – Oh, excuse me; I don’t know what came over me.  Do you have a Shell loyalty card?”

Think about all the conspiracy theories that centre on the slow poisoning of the water supply.  Why are there no conspiracy theories centred on this drink – which the manufacturer explicitly (and proudly) claims is a ‘killer’?  Hey idiots!  Look over here, conspiracy nutters!  They’re admitting it!  It’s them!

Ahem.  Anyway.  Before I go, let’s move away from energy drinks, and to fizzy drinks more broadly.  Have you ever gone into a McDonalds and ordered a Big Mac, and then accompanied it with a Diet Coke.  A Diet Coke?  Probably not.  How silly it would be to do so.  I imagine, like me, that you’ve all made this observation at some point in your lives, thinking you we were oh-so clever.  Well, you were wrong.  We were wrong.  We’re morons, and the Diet Coke orderers were right.  Sugar will fucking kill you.  Look here.  And here.  And here and here and here.

Another example.  Cast your mind back to your last night out, escorting your posse of variously inebriated droogs around some rat-infested Middle-English hellhole.  If, like me, you prefer to drink spirits rather than beer or ale or that god-awful poison they call lager, then you will probably want a mixer at some point.  Well, mixers are full of sugar.  A pint of coke contains sixty-five grams of it.  What if you were to ingest, say, eight pints of coke?  You’ve taken aboard 1920 calories, which basically like carrying a Christmas cake around with you all night, stuffing a slice into your fat mouth at every round.  A CHRISTMAS CAKE MADE ENTIRELY FROM ICING.

But it’s considered quite sensible to go to a bar and order coke.  If you go to a bar and order water, in order to avoid dehydration after your neat shot of single-malt, or vodka or turps or whatever, then you’re considered quite strange.  Well, fuck that, I say.  I’ll have crystal meth instead.

Until next week.

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