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.


Andrew

5 comments:

Bob Devlin said...

Get them to stock this.

http://www.itoen.com/tea/index.cfm?sp=product&catID=1&id=104

Unsweetened.

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.