AS I RECALL growing up in the 1950s, it was idyllic. This was not just because I was a kid and childhood is superior to adulthood, although that helps. It was more because of a lack of striving to be the happiest, the smartest, the coolest and the trendiest. There was no “cutting-edge,” and if there were you were likely nowhere near it. There was far less inanity; specifically there was no Twitter, which has surely got to signify the lowest point in the evolution of our species.
Most of our food came from a small grocery within walking distance to our modest home. A dozen eggs were delivered to our back door once a week by Artie, the Egg Man. There was no club soda or sparkling Pellegrino; instead we received a case of seltzer (in those glass bottles with the spigots) once a month, brought by Phil, the Seltzer Guy. We had a party line on the phone and when you dialed “O,” a real lady answered and asked how she could help you. There were no talking robots calling our house; when the phone rang you were confident it would be a close friend or relative on the other end. Drinking water came out of the kitchen sink faucet or, in summer, the backyard hose. I could go on, but why bother—it’s all just nostalgia now, replaced by modern social media making everyone, regardless of who they are or how much they’ve got, feel like crap.
The latest tool by which to judge people is their water consumption. Despite the growing belief that using plastic bottles means you are a disciple of the Devil bent on world destruction by choking every fish in the sea, killing all the dolphins and whales and filling the planet with mountains of detritus, still those mega-corporations, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, are continuing to duke it out for world dominance as they seemingly have since the Dawn of Man. Only now it’s without the added sugar.
An impending battle between the two companies is set to begin on Super Bowl Sunday, when competing TV commercials will present their new products to the public. Apparently Americans have finally tired of drinking artificially colored, sugar-laden carbonated chemicals with no nutritional value and in fact only bad results (i.e., soda drinkers have a higher risk of cancer and obesity), so Coke and Pepsi are diving head-first into the bottled water business with smartwater (one word, all lower case) and LIFEWTR (misspelled in all caps).
Because the recipe for water is pretty much a done deal, they’re spending zillions on packaging with fancy labels designed by emerging artists. According to PepsiCo’s marketing chief Seth Kaufman, “There is demand for water that says something about the consumer as they’re walking around with it.” I guess Seth grew up drinking lots of soda, the poor guy.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.