A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

And so, the inexorable takeover of the nutrition labels continues. Soon, our country will be blanketed in them. Graffitied walls will be papered over, street dwellers will use them to build crude shelters, highway signs will become illegible, obscured by the charts and numbers and percentages, and when we look in the mirror, we will see ourselves overlaid with the harsh black lines and numerals announcing the caloric and saturated fat content of our bodies.

Now, it is labels on soda vending machines, at least in Chicago and San Antonio for the time being. According to an article in The New York Times, it’s all part of an effort from the American Beverage Association called “Calories Count,” and they hope to go national soon. That is, after government workers in the two test cities duke it out in a “wellness competition” to see whose public health programs best improve the overall well-being of their staff.

In addition to the labels alerting people that a 20 oz. bottle of Coke has 240 calories (I mean, just eat a donut! But no! No. Don’t.), the machines will also offer a wider selection of low- and zero-calorie options. Huzzah!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. While it is a little confounding and shameful that our countrymen and women seem to need constant and assiduous instruction in how not to be giant lardfaces destined for early graves, well, that’s how it is. So the more people are confronted with the economy of nutrition and the value of what they’re stuffing down their gullets, the better.

But why stop there? What about self serve fountains? Of course, in this city, our cups only get so big. But perhaps soda machines should also reflect calorie content. That does get tricky, as there are a lot of variables in the world of self serve fountains. For instance, how does one calculate illegal free refills? Or the timeless favorite, the cup ‘o’ everything, when you walk down the line of sodas and evenly distribute squirts of each into your cup until it runneth over?

Unfortunately, for every nutrition label we plaster onto this great nation, there will always be exponentially more sorely needed and eternally lacking. I mean, until we start slapping those bad boys on the chafing dishes at those Smorgasbord buffet restaurants, we’ll always be fighting a losing battle.

That reminds me! In related news: more and more chain restaurants around the country are accepting cards from gastric bypass patients which entitle them to a discount, since if they eat more than three grains of rice their stomachs will explode or whatever.

Hey, that’s good too! It’s called hedging your bets.

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