Tag Archives: Sprite

Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite

I hate it when you go out to a restaurant and all they have to drink is Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. That’s all we serve at my restaurant. The royal triumvirate of boring sodas. It’s like I can just picture whoever started the place, they’re considering all of the locally selected ingredients for each carefully plated dish. And then right after they finish planning the menu, one of them says, “Oh wait, we forgot to go over beverages.”


The other guy goes, “What do you mean, like soda? Just get Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.” And that’s it. It’s like there’s no imagination at all, not even the possibility that you might branch out even a step into the wider world of soft drinks.

And this isn’t anything against Coke. It’s great. I hate Diet Coke, but whatever, that’s not a fight I’m willing to pick, because people love Diet Coke, and so yeah, not my cup of tea. I do love Coke Classic. But I love cheeseburgers also. It doesn’t mean I want every meal to be a cheeseburger. Nor do I want every drink I have to be a Coke.

I just don’t get it, because there are so many more interesting sodas besides Coke and Sprite. How did we wind up as these two being the standard? It’s like ice cream, you’ve got vanilla and chocolate. Hot drinks, it’s coffee and tea. And for soda, you’ve got whatever flavor Coke is supposed to be and then lemon-lime.

You ever go to a restaurant and ask if they orange soda? Or Mountain Dew? You won’t even get a response right away. The waiter or waitress is just going to stare at you for a little while, to communicate as passive-aggressively as they can, are you kidding me? Are you seriously asking me if we have orange soda or Mountain Dew? Of course we don’t. Of course we only have Coke or Sprite. What the hell is your problem?

I know this because I’m a waiter, and I can’t stand it when people waste my time, “What kind of soft drinks do you have?” And what do I do? I don’t want to be a dick. I don’t want to be like, you’re an idiot, we only have Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. But that’s all we have. Sure, I can mention unsweetened ice tea, I can throw in seltzer, but that’s it, everybody’s left deflated by the interaction. I don’t know what you were expecting.

But why is artificial orange flavor that much different than artificial lemon and lime flavor? Why is it socially acceptable to have a brown or a clear carbonated beverage in front of you at a restaurant while a green or a neon yellow one would make it look like you snuck out to Pizza Hut to order a soda to bring back to the table?

Cream soda, root beer, grape soda, Dr. Pepper, there are so many alternative soda flavors we could add to the standard restaurant drink menu to make everything more interesting. But no, you’re lucky if you go to a restaurant that has ginger ale.

Every restaurant by me, they proudly serve at least forty-five craft beers on tap. The wine gets its own telephone book sized menu. Bourbons, scotches, spirits, hold on, let me get the liquor manager to come over and give you a history lesson on single malts vs. blends. But soda? We’ve got Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. It’s not fair. I love soda. I would love to have some variety when I feel like enjoying a sugary carbonated beverage.

No more free refills on soda

At the restaurant where I wait tables, management recently got rid of the soda fountain. Whereas before five dollars would get you unlimited Coke and Diet Coke, now five dollars gets you one twelve ounce bottle of soda. Whatever, I was all bent out of shape about it initially. I hated having to explain a stupid change in soda policy to every single table that I wound up serving.

bottled soda

“What is this?”

“We recently switched to bottled …”

“So no more free refills?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK. But I hate you. And I’m not tipping you. And I’m going to follow you home and egg your house. Asshole.”

OK, nobody actually said that last one to me, not explicitly. But I’d stand there and smile and bullshit about how, “We really just want to make sure you’re enjoying an optimal soda drinking experience,” and I could tell these people wanted me dead. They don’t care about quality. If you’re a Diet Coke drinker, you’re not in some sort of a quest for quality. It’s super popular, yeah, everybody drinks it, but come on, does anyone truly enjoy Diet Coke? What is that taste? It’s like a battery that’s been left out to rot out in some old socks for a decade before accidentally being dropped into a vat of Coke Classic.

I’m getting carried away. I realize that now. A couple of months have passed and our customers have since gotten used to no longer receiving unlimited, intravenous Coca-Cola, and so I don’t have to talk about it all that much anymore. But at the time, man was I pissed. I was so angry. I came right home after that first shift and wrote a whole blog post about how much I hate bottled soda, how much I hate my managers, how the restaurant industry is this giant scam.

I sat on it for a couple of weeks, I always sit on my writing for a couple of weeks, and it’s a good thing too. Because I reread my diatribe against the soda policy and I scratched my head, like, huh, I was getting all bent out of shape over this? Over Diet Coke? Come on. That’s lame.

Although I am pissed off that I don’t get to drink free soda anymore. That used to be a really minor perk of working where I work. Every five minutes or so I’d fill up a huge glass of seltzer and I’d pound it down, enjoying that crazy sensation of those bubbles trying to go every which way, up my nose, down my throat. I’d close the back of my throat and squint my eyes really hard, because you know, just try chugging any carbonated beverage, that’s no joke. But it would pass and I’d feel instantly refreshed and recharged.

Now I can’t do that anymore. Before I had a perk. Now, there’s no perk. And I’m not being dramatic. I tried chugging a glass of plain water, and I almost quit right there. One, it’s boring. There’s absolutely nothing going on with a glass of plain water. Two, there is no two. It’s just one, water is boring. No bubbles, no fun.

I also tried switching to unsweetened iced tea, and that worked for about two hours. I’d fill up a glass, squeeze a lemon, and I’d get that refreshment, I liked the added caffeine kick. But you ever try downing more than two large glasses of unsweetened iced tea in a short time? Man, it’s like I boarded an express train to upset-stomach central. I had to sit down. I thought I caught some sort of a virus.

Finally, I’d like to end with a little anecdote. So we have bottles of soda, which means tons of empty bottles that we’re throwing straight in the trash. I can’t believe restaurants can get away without recycling that much plastic. I think that if I tried that in my house, the city would give me a fine. Anyway, this one waiter started collecting all of the soda caps.

I was like, hey man, what are you doing? And he was like, “Oh, well, you see these codes under the caps? If you type them into the Coca-Cola web site, they’ll donate .0001 cents to the charity of your choice.”

I was like, wow, thanks, I guess. But what I was really thinking was, Coke, you’re willing to donate all of this money to charity, but only if some random person gets on his or her computer and types out a long string of nonsense onto the Internet? Don’t be an asshole, Coca-Cola. Either donate to charity or don’t donate to charity. Don’t condition you’re philanthropy on whether or not you can get complete strangers to sit at their computers and do a bunch of mindless, unproductive busy-work.