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When I sat down to write this month’s post, it was not going to be about soda. It was about how water – water! – had finally overtaken soda as the most popular beverage in the US.  But then a question flashed in my head that I could not shake. Has soda become the new cigarette?

Earlier this month, several media outlets reported that consumption of bottled water surpassed that of carbonated beverages for the first time.  The news shouldn’t surprise anyone, even those who say you shouldn’t have to pay for something you can get out of the tap.

As a country, we are trying mightily to become more health conscious.  We know that we could all drink more water, and, if we did, we would be better off for it.  You can’t go anywhere these days without bottled water being available for free or for sale.

So what’s soda got going for it?  We still drank it last year at the rate of thirty-eight and a half gallons per person.  But it’s become the pariah at the party.  Soda became the face of childhood obesity.  Schools got rid of it.  New York City famously tried (and failed) to limit how large a bottle of soda could be.  Taxes on soda started going up.

Even alcohol offers some health benefits.  Do you want a couple glasses of wine or a cocktail?  Go ahead, because, in moderation, it’s good for you.  When was the last time your doctor asked if you were getting enough soda in your diet?  “Your blood sugar’s a little low; you might want to grab a Big Gulp on the way home.”

My own beverage tastes are eclectic.  My coffee of choice is Starbucks, but I would drink coffee out of an urn, rather than go without.  Well, I draw the line at instant coffee.

I love lemonade, just not pink lemonade.  I can do without iced tea, but could drink Arnold Palmers (half tea/half lemonade) every day and twice on Sunday.

I’ve become something of a beer snob, preferring mostly porters and stouts in draught form.  But there are days when I could be tempted by whatever’s available.

And, lest you think I’m sitting on my soda box, looking down my nose at you soda drinkers, you’d be wrong.  Because I am one of you.

There was a time not that far in the past that I drank six sodas every weekend.  It wasn’t unusual for us to have twelve packs of three different kinds of Mountain Dew, plus Coke or Pepsi depending on which one was on sale.  We drank soda like it was, well, water.

Today, the vegan spouse drinks no soda and I allow myself one per week.  Did we change our habits due to high soda taxes or peer pressure?  No.  We wanted to be healthier and to feel better.  And it worked.

I look forward to my weekly Mountain Dew, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t have it.  I don’t think we’ll see a day when people are huddled over their Sprites and Dr. Peppers in the “soda section” of the cafeteria, but I don’t see a bright tomorrow for the product.  The down side to soda outweighs any benefits. Although, according to the internet, one well-known soda can be used as a rust and stain remover, paint stripper, and toilet cleaner.  Maybe soda’s future is in the hardware store.

How much soda do you drink?  Please leave a comment…