Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hungry In Hell

Yesterday I found myself hungry in a Stop-N-Go, which for anyone remotely interested in good health, represents the Third Circle of Hell. There is literally almost nothing in such a store that you can put in your mouth that won’t do you more harm than good, no matter how hungry you are. Every food item should just be labeled “Sugar/Trans Fat Delivery System,” regardless of its nut-like, meat-like, or fruit-like appearance.

I was, of course, largely responsible for my predicament: I wasn’t prepared, so I didn’t have the seven Tupperware containers of baked chicken, the Ziploc bag of raw vegetables, and the 18-inch square hunk of sod with live wheatgrass growing in it that a fitness neurotic like me should keep handy in such situations. My apologies to Bob Greene.

Having settled, reluctantly, on some kind of ‘High Protein’ Bar whose label I refused on principle to read, I wandered over to the cooler to face my drink-option fate.

The good thing about drinks is that you can always grab a bottle of water, though even that has gotten to be a perilous choice: with all the clear drinks in bluish bottles being hawked at you these days masquerading as something benign, you might get reckless and wind up grabbing yourself a bottle of radioactive-looking swill calling itself a “water beverage," which has got to be right up there among the Top Five Most Absurd Product Names Ever Dreamt Up, topped—and that just barely—only by the 1970’s hair-care product line “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific.” They should call these drinks “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Water.”

Anyway, to my surprise I noticed something I hadn’t seen in a convenience store before: mixed in with the traditional sodas, the completely undrinkable Snapple flavors and the preposterously priced water-beverages, there were, I’d guess, about a half-dozen green tea options.

A Stop-N-Go that sells green tea? Isn’t that like Willie Wonka selling sprouts and hummus? Or an opium den with a ‘flu shot’ kiosk?

I proceeded—foolishly—to give each one of these gift horses a thorough oral exam, and found that EVERY SINGLE ONE of them were jam-packed with sugar, and MORE THAN HALF contained high-fructose corn syrup.

Now look, guys, I understand that sugar helps move product. I’ve seen Mary Poppins, and although green tea isn’t exactly medicine, for all its fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, and anti-oxidizing benefits, it’s pretty darn close. I get that not everyone will enjoy the taste of unsweetened green tea.

But for the love of all that is holy, if you’re going to manufacture eleven flavors of a given beverage, can one, just ONE of those flavors be THAT FLAVOR? Do we have to have raspberry green tea (with added sugar), Citrus Blast green tea (with high-fructose corn syrup), and Taste of the East (with honey) and NOT ONE that’s the ACTUAL THING WE WANT TO DRINK? Green tea is a subtle flavor; add all these sweet things to it and it becomes not green tea but Raspberry Syrup Fun-Goo* (*with a barely detectable hint of a slight Green Tea overtone aftertaste!). And then we might as well just drink Snapple, which I literally cannot consume in any quantity without intestinal distress.

Let me save your R & D departments a little leg work, here, all you green-tea mass marketers, and tell you that, by and large, consumers of green tea are a pretty health-conscious bunch. We don’t want a lot of chemicals on our plates or in our beverages. Can a tiny gesture of concession be made to us green tea drinkers who might, just might be vaguely reluctant concerned to jam EVEN MORE chemically-enhanced, Frankensteinian, sickly-sweet garbage down our gullets?

And you know, if this product exists—plain, unsweetened green tea in a bottle—and no one is stocking it, then I’m mad at YOU, Mr. Stop-N-Go Inventory Guy! Get on the stick and give us health-conscious types something we can pick up in your store besides a staph infection.

The comments and responses of anyone who can explain this situation to me are welcome.



Bob Devlin said...

Get them to stock this.


Andrew said...

Looks like good stuff...Clearly there are healthy options out there--now why isn't anyone stocking them besides the stores that cater to the health conscious?

Bob Devlin said...

Maybe it's California. I find this stuff in regular delicatessans here in New York City. Good luck in your search.

Andrew said...

Can't blame California for this one; I was in the Midwest!

Alexandra said...

I hear you. I am a vegan living in the heart of Alberta, Canada. There is something to be said for the boy scouts' slogan "always be prepared". I frequently find myself in such situations...and not just at the shop and go.

I kid you not, the third circle of nutritional hell is not just a familiar concept to me- it's a way of life.