“Cola Zero”

Blog 1648 – 03.27.2020

“Cola Zero”

I was born and came of age in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the city that boasts that it is the place where Coca Cola was first bottled. Coke was invented in Atlanta, Georgia, still the international home office of Coca Cola. As a boy in Chattanooga I drank a lot of Coca Cola, Royal Crown Cola, Doctor Pepper and even a locally produced, and less expensive brand of cola called Double Cola. This was long before K-Mart came out with their discount brand Big-K Cola or Walmart their even less expensive but still tasty Sam’s Club Cola drink.

And, No, this blog is not an advertisement for what I think to be the “best tasting” cola product nor written to warn folks against drinking the diet versions of all of the above which actually I prefer. Most manufacturers would love to brand us for life, especially the soft drink manufacturers. One of my favorite movie lines on the subject of branding comes from the perennial Christmas movie favorite, Christmas Story, the one about the boy Ralphie who wanted desperately to get a Red Ryder B-B Gun for Christmas. Ralphie says of his furnace fighting father that there was a large visible dark cloud of profanity that hung over the part of his state created by the cuss words that his dad sent up while battling the family’s furnace. As he continues narrating the Christmas Story, he further says of his dad that some kids’ dads where Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, or Baptist’s, but that his dad was an Oldsmobile man. I still smile every time that I hear that line or think of it.

The Christian, Muslim, and Mormon religions are, all three, unarguably derivative from Judaism. And one has only to honestly take a look at the ancient Egyptian gods especially Horus to see where much of the material written about Jesus came from. Some think the three wealthy gift bearing Kings from the east (I like to call “the three wise guys”) that came to celebrate Jesus birthday, in the story, might have represented the eastern religions, Hindu, Buddhist, perhaps even Taoist, like all religions, in my book, more similar than different. Still many people are afraid to even look behind the curtain of their particular beliefs, or even having done so still choose to continue believing some version of the great Wizard of Oz legend. It is dangerous to make fun of other people’s religions but most of us have done it, so sure that ours is exempt from examination. This is true of most all of our most strongest held beliefs. I mean how could so many people believe that every other politician is a crook, a liar, a sham but theirs. I make it a practice to steer clear of politicians, products, physicians, preachers, and other professional people who try to promote themselves by pointing out the flaws, falsehoods and faults of others. We all have glass feet and shaky legs to stand on in this department. Our judgement is so poor at best that we cannot even rightly judge ourselves let alone others. We were not made to judge and when we try to we most often if not always get it wrong.

For years Pepsi commercials had a gimmick called “the Pepsi taste test” where people were given two unlabeled colas to drink and then asked to judge which tasted best. Surprisingly Pepsi won every time. Even the Coke folks must have bought the commercials for soon after they put out a new and improved product that they named “New Coke” which tasted, some said, a lot more like Pepsi. I do not claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed nor to be a gourmet in the soft drink department. Therefore when ever, eating out, I order a Diet Coke and the wait person says, “Is Diet Pepsi okay?” I say, “Sure.” If they said Diet Rite, RC, Dr. Pepper, Big-K, Sam’s Cola or even the watered down Regular or High Test version of these products I would probably not even notice the difference all that much, just writing the subtle taste differences off to their unique fountain drink equipment or the local water supply.

Theological, political, philosophical and sports team religious beliefs are all as alike in that regard to me as all the cola choices. Sometimes I wonder if we might have found the cure for cancer, male pattern baldness, and even the common cold along with a long list of other ailments and diseases already if we had concentrated even a small portion of the money, the energy, and the effort that has gone into the Cola Wars. We marvel at all the money that is spent to elect or unseat this or that political hack but even those tremendous piles of loot pales in light of the advertising budgets of the cola manufacturers. Like the cigarette and booze manufacturers they have always spiked their products with a touch of an addictive drug, not too much just enough to keep customers coming back for more. Early on Coca Cola purportedly contained traces of cocaine, hence the name. The ingredient cocaine was quickly changed to caffeine but they name kept the same, preferring it to Cafe Cola I guess. Colas were first concocted in drug stores and sold at the counter, over the counter. Drug wars, colas wars same, same.

Reminds you a bit of two children arguing, “My dad’s bigger, smarter, stronger, braver than yours” or “my mother wittier, prettier,” all this my cola, my school, my politician, my professional person, my sports team, my God is bigger, better than yours. How about it, oh Great and Wonderful Oz? And I quote, “Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain.” To which I just add, “Sit back, relax, and enjoy your “Cold Drink” or hot cup of tea or Joe if you prefer.”

Your friend and fellow traveler,
David White

P.S. Many believe sugar to be the worst drug of all. Who knew Mary Poppins was a pusher too. What a versatile and savvy business woman whatever else you believe about her, a fictional character.

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