Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Americans: Pepsico & Coca-Cola Think You're Stupid

Last week I bought some Five-Alive, which in my (Canadian) experience is a delicious and vitamin-rich blend of five fruit juices. I loved Five-Alive in college and drank many a liter of Five-Alive Berry on tree-planting days off. I even had a recording of The Five Alive Song, which I memorized and sang (loudly) as I slurped my Five-Alive from a striped-blue-bendy straw.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I took my first swig of the American version of this drink and felt three of my teeth instantaneously rot and fall out of my mouth. I looked at the side of the box and to my chagrin saw the ingredients listed in the following order of precedence... One: Filtered Water, Two: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Three: Fruit Juices. What?!? Apparently, American Five-Alive has only forty-one percent fruit juice.

Naturally, I concluded that the Coca-Cola Company (which owns Minute Maid, which owns Five Alive) thinks Americans are stupid*, and wants them to die slowly, en masse, from the effects of wide-spread diabetes and obesity caused by the poison that is High Fructose Corn Syrup. And apparently, they're right. That doesn't necessarily mean that Canadians, with their actual-fruit-juice Five Alive are any smarter or less ignorant. They, too, consume gallons and gallons of high fructose corn syrup every year. But that may be just a result of the unstoppable tide of American economic pressure to which the smaller Canadian economy perpetually gives way.

Is there more evidence that American companies think Americans are particularly stupid?

Well, take Pepsi-Co, which makes Mountain Dew. In the United States, Mountain Dew is the "gateway-drug" of caffeine drinks, having six times the caffeine of coffee. And caffeine, as we all know, is a drug that screws with your brain. Yet in Canada, Mountain Dew has zero caffeine. It's as though these massive corporations know that Americans are easier to bamboozle than Canadians, and therefore feed them a steady diet of mind-altering, addictive drugs like high-fructose corn syrup and caffeine, just to keep them docile and consuming.

You, reading this, are likely addicted to one or both of these toxic compounds, and are therefore extremely likely to dismiss my (anecdotal, grossly-overstated) conclusions out of hand. "No, no, no," you say, "These companies don't think we're stupid. They're not trying to kill us. This is America. The government looks out for us, here. Besides, how evil can corporations be? Do you really think they'd poison us, just to make more money?"

Well. Uh. Yeah. Huh-Doi! Just look at the example of cigarettes. If you're of the younger set, you no doubt can't remember a time when the health risks of cigarettes were in doubt in America... but I can. I can remember a time when it was legal to market cigarettes directly to children - when "scientists" got up in front of government panels and swore on Jesus that they weren't aware of any health risk involved in smoking cigarettes.

Cigarettes are now thought to kill around a thousand people a day in America, and only really, really, really stupid people deny that cigarettes are full of toxic and addictive chemicals. But there was a time when Big Tobacco pumped a lot of money into convincing people that nicotine et al was not a big deal, and it worked. What's more, they are still putting these poisons in cigarettes, and people are still buying them.

Americans, as the economic engine-drivers of the entire planet over the last several decades, have made this happen, and have exported their stupidity to the rest of the world. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are convinced that the stupidity of Americans is going to keep their wallets fat-packed forever. They're probably right.

I wouldn't know, of course. I'm half Canadian.

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*Apparently, they're not that impressed with the intelligence of the Brits, either, because their Five-Alive lists 22% sugar and other sweeteners.

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