Friday, November 26, 2010

Interesting aticle on HFCS Versus Sugar High-Fructose Corn Syrup Worse Than Table Sugar - Study

     I linked to the printer friendly version because it has no ads and is easier to read, link to the original article is that the bottom of that page. If the text is too small hold down control and then scroll your scroll wheel up (sorry mac users, don't know who to do that for you guys).

     Basically this study is to dispel the propaganda that's been floating around like this website. Which is pure propaganda, if you check out their "Web of Trust" ranking it reveals some of the truths behind that site. There's also these ads which are downright ridiculous. They act like it's from corn so it's natural and that you can take it in moderation. The truth is, High Fructose Corn Syrup is in almost everything. Anything you put in your mouth and think "that's sweet!" has High Fructose Corn Syrup. The study tackled what would happen giving mice real sugar water versus High Fructose Corn Syrup water and what was interesting is that although the sweetness of each was identical and the calories were identical, the High Fructose Corn Syrup mouse gained significantly more weight. They hypothesize that this is due to the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is super duper processed and thus our bodies don't know how to deal with it. Our bodies have been metabolizing sugar for millions of years so we've gotten pretty good at turning it from sugar to energy with little waste. With High Fructose Corn Syrup though our bodies have a "okay what do I do with this?" reaction and thus we can't convert it to energy and we end up with empty calories. You know how they always say soda has empty calories? Well, that's why!  The extra energy from the High Fructose Corn Syrup that we can't burn gets stored into fat cells which is no good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Real costs of soda and The Soda Tax

     A few days ago it was my father's birthday and as a celebration my family went out to a dinner at Seva's, I ordered a Taco Salad with a bottle of Sprecher's Root Beer. The meal was fantastic with the exception of the cost of the soda. The restaurant charge $3.65 for just a nothin' fancy bottle of Sprecher's! I know that for a restaurant to make money they have to raise the price on things and to the layman Sprecher's is a real fancy independent sort of Root Beer, one that most haven't heard of and such.

     This got me thinking about what is the actual cost of a soda. I've heard before that in a Fast Food place the cup is more expensive than the soda in the cup. I did some research and frankly, I am shocked.

     According to "Eddie on Everything", the cost of making 50,000 cokes worth of concentrate costs the Coca-Cola company $2.60. 2 dollars and 60 cents. For 50,000 cokes. That's $0.000052 a cup. Of course, that's only for the syrup. When you take into consideration everything else in that cup, it ends up at about 13 cents a cup. The sizes used sold for 2.29 or, a 1,761% markup. That is the equivalent of going to the dollar store where everything costs the store 25-75 cents to buy and having the price they sell it at as being in the hundreds. Another example is the new 7.5 tinier cokes that have started to spring up. If you bought a gallon of coke in 7.5 ounce cans, it would cost $8.50. Imagine paying $8.50 for gas!

     The real question is, why is the concentrate so cheap? Well, during the depression farmers were having trouble financially supporting themselves. Obviously, we needed farmers so that we wouldn't all die of famine so what FDR did was start offering farmers money to either not farm some of their fields for a bit, which lowered supply increasing the prices or the government would flat out pay you to farm certain things. Corn is one of those things and one of the things that currently gets the most backing from government. This means that taking corn and making into High Fructose Corn Syrup for sweeting any product made in the USA is way, way more efficient than using Cane sugar or any other type of sweetener. The US Government hands out 50 billion dollars yearly in Corn Subsidies.

    There are different varieties of HFCS, those varieties do not have to be labeled but they range from HFCS-90 to HFCS-42. The number is the percentage of fructose, the extra percent that would add up to 100 is the Glucose. For example, HFCS-90 is 90% fructose, 10% glucose. The higher the fructose, the sweeter. HFCS-55 is as sweet as sugar.
For additional information on this subject, this is a great article.

    Even though it hurts the flavor of their sodas most companies use High Fructose Corn Syrup as opposed to sugar in it's various forms because of the cost.

The Soda Tax
     Recently, Congress has been seriously considering a tax of one cent per ounce of soda sold. The soda companies are, of course, up in arms as are many restaurants. I'm guessing that it won't pass because when people like McDonald's are opposing a bill, it's chances of success are pretty low. However, after reading how much profit is on each ounce of soda I have to say that I am totally for the taxes. It may make the 1,761% profit dip down to only a 1,000% profit. Oh no! Frankly, it's not that much money. I'm drinking a 20 oz. Faygo Root Beer as I type this(don't expect a review on that one, it's just too boring to get one) which would mean 20 cents more for this soda. Soda is also a luxury which can always be replaced by water. The fact that is serve no nutritional value makes me say that the tax should be welcomed as well.

     So, next time you're spending a bunch on a bottle of water and syrup think of just how few ingredients are in there and how cheap each one must be and consider it. For me, it'll always be the real sugar and small, independent bottling companies!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Soda Review: IBC Black Cherry

    IBC is a very well known brand, most notable for their Root Beer. IBC Root Beer is sort of the generic good soda that restaurants and places will buy because it's in a glass bottle and is pretty cheap and pretty good tasting. I know this was bought at Meijer but it was bought a very long time ago. In fact, this was purchased back before I really had an interest in soda. It was the first time my dad brought home a 6-pack of soda in a glass bottle because he knew I liked sweets and would appreciate it. Actually, come to think of it this really had a large part in this site and my interest with soda in general. It introduced me to "good soda" and glass bottling as a serious thing. The design on the 6-pack really is superb, makes me thirsty just seeing it.
Really is just a pretty box, the lighting isn't great but the colors on there are very vivid and nice. For a little while I drank them voraciously, but then I had one lonely little one that you can see pictured above.

A little proof, mold from age in my basement. Ew.

I really have no idea what this cost, I'll give a rough estimate of 4 dollars for a 6-Pack though. All that being said, Black Cherry is an extremely interesting flavor for IBC to tackle, it's really not something that you would normally expect. In fact, I don't think I've ever even had a black cherry. Do those even exist? Whatever, I'm a soda taster not a food critic! On with the analysis!

     The bottling is fantastic. Come to think of it, I actually haven't found a bottle I didn't like. Well, who's to complain. Here's a picture for you:

It was hard to get a picture because this bottle is pure glass. The only paint you will find is on the bottle cap! I think that's great because when you put paint on a can or bottle when it gets recycled it's actually bad for the environment because to remove those paints before they melt down the metal they have to use highly toxic paint removers. This bottle however is simple and efficient. The lack of paint is also why I included a cap picture at the top, it almost tells more of a story than the full body picture. Look at that color as well. Such a nice, dark rosy color.

    I first opened it and the first thing to really hit me was a nice "pop!" sound no "psst". Usually the nature of a screw off is more of a slow release of carbonation but not in this case. Second I notice the carbonation, ther was just the perfect sizing of the bubbles.

Yep, that's pretty much perfection. This just got me really excited to start drinking it. The carbonation simply looks to be really good!

Oh god, the smell. Seriously some of the best smells I have gotten off any soda ever. It's like an extremely strong Dr. Pepper smell.

    On first taste I notice the High Fructose Corn Syrup pretty immediately. Yeah, IBC uses High Fructose Corn Syrup but that's because they aren't very small at all. Companies like that tend to go only for the corn syrup. The big difference between Sugar and Corn Syrup is that is leaves an after taste. In this case I actually found it pretty unpleasing. I had just finished drinking and then it stuck there for a little while, it was strange. However, I feel the High Fructose Corn Syrup is not overdone at all. It has a definite sweetness that distracts from the real flavors of the soda, but it's not over powering. It makes the soda nice and sweet rather than being purely flavor. It's like Boylan's Root Beer versus a normal nothing fancy root beer. Boylan's has a pure flavor with little sweetness layered on, but IBC layers sweetness on top of the flavor.

    I really don't know what to think of this soda. I like it, it tastes good but it's not a party soda like Henry Weinhard's Vanilla Cream. That soda was just mild enough you could serve it anywhere and it would go over well. This is fruity so it almost seems childish. I personally like fruity sodas but I think that others might not. However, I could definitely see this as a gift. The glass bottles, 6-pack design and flavor are all nice enough and non-controversial enough that people would not be disappointed by it.

     I've got it! This is a mainstream soda! It's just got a pretty nice, nothing special flavor with not much going on. It's got High Fructose Corn Syrup sorta acting as a safety net so that it will taste nice. The only real difference between this and a Faygo Black Cherry is the glass bottling.

     Taking that idea to the next level what I would really, really love to see is this but with pure sugar. Then stack some more flavors on top of it. This is a good flavor that's nice and sweet with corn syrup but imagining this with cane sugar and a twist or vanilla. Oh man, that would be so good. The black cherry flavor would hit you hard since the sugar would not distract and then after that's done you'd have a lingering feeling of vanilla and that would make it go down super smooth. With this sort of carbonation as well it would be such a fantastic soda. A dash of chocolate too would be amazing.

     If anything, I sort of wish that this were just a flavor included in something like Torani's Italian soda syrups. I want to mix it around and be able to choose my own sweetness rather than be given preset parameters for what this soda should be.

Overall, it's not a bad soda at all. Good bottling, good flavor all that. It's just that it could be sooo much more! It went the generic, mainstream route and if it were run by a smaller brewery it could really pop and be an absolutely amazing soda rather than nothing special that you drink on the side with a meal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Amazing Video on the World's Best Soda Shop

     Just a quickie since I already posted today. This is a short documentary(13 minutes) about a man who is extremely passionate about soda. He owns the world's largest collection of soda. He said that for him work is just play, he comes in and plays all day. I thought it was an absolutely wonderful video. It was a large part of why this blog exists. Here it is, embedded for your pleasure.

Credit to Joe for the video.

My Soda Collection as of November 9th

All captions are listing names in order from Left to Right
You could also think of this as "Future Reviews" if you wanted.
This is all of them in one shot

Frostie Blue Cream, Marble Pop, Jolly Rancher Blueberry Raspberry, Jarritos Mandarin, Izze Birch, Jarritos Tamarind, Cas Cal Light Red

Jarritos Tamarind, Cas Cal Light Red, IBC Black Cherry, Izze Pomegranate, Izze Blueberry, Fentiman's Curiosity Cola
Izze Blueberry, Fentiman's Curiosity Cola, Reed's Blueberry Ginger Ale, NuGrape Soda, Pepsi and Coca-Cola wish real sugar, Boylan Birch Beer

NuGrape Soda Pepsi and Coca-Cola wish real sugar, Boylan Birch Beer and a case of Birch Beer

My kitty loves the taste of real Coca-Cola too!

 This next image is hosted elsewhere and linked because it is extremely large. It's a panorama of my setting the sodas down on the ground and doing a 360 with each included.

It is very very wide and not very tall at all. I hope it's not too annoying to look at, but it should give you a better look at everything. In my opinion it's also pretty darned cool looking, so check it out!

Link to Massive 360 Panorama

So I officially have 18 bottles of soda in my house bought specifically for this blog. I only say that because there's still some only Faygo lying about as well. Of those bottle, there are 15 unique flavors. Well, I guess only 13 if you could "Curiosity Cola" "Coca-Cola" and "Pepsi" as all one flavor, but who's to judge.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soda Review: Boylan Root Beer

     Boylan Bottling Company is a soda bottling company that has been around since 1891, being one of the older bottling companies still in existence today. I bought this bottle locally at Busch's for $1.29, very widely available in general you can get it online from Amazon. They also have many flavors other than Root Beer that I will hopefully be reviewing sometime. They take a lot of pride in their soda, sporting slogans like this:

They seem to be very serious about all this indeed. More importantly, they trash on the more Faygo brand of sodas that have plastic bottling and lots of High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think I'm in for an interesting one this time around.

    The bottling is just so darned good. Look at the shape, it's so simple and elegant. A nice curve to the stem that just pleases the eye. The overall design is just so crisp and simple. A big circle with their name around it to just say "This is our root beer. We don't mess around with all that fluff, just drink it and love it." The cap is weirdly huge and wraps around quite a bit more than a normal cap but that's because it's resealable! How nice is that! There is a belief that to cut down on the calories and sugar intake of soda you should just have half of one, then the rest later on. I try to do this with Faygo since the sugar levels are so high and it's nice to see that it's a possibility even in a glass bottle. Speaking of the bottle, that thing is freaking thick.
2 quarters thick, that is.
They say that the thickness and dark color helps to preserve freshness because then no sunlight gets in. I know that for Beers that is a big deal, so why not for Root Beers?

     As far as the ingredients go you can see from the top image that they sport real cane sugar. The full ingredients list is nice and short, which it should be for a soda and it does indeed deliver on the Cane Sugar.
Only 7 ingredients and one of them is Cane Sugar

    When I first opened it up it made a lovely little "ssss" sound, not a pop at all due to the design of the cap. You can only really slowly release it, not blast it off all at once. The smell is just exactly like a Root Beer you have had many times before and it really reminded me strongly of being a kid and opening up a Barq's Root Beer which to me was clearly superior to A&W. I would even go a few days without Barq's so that I would forget what it tasted like then when I had it again it would be so damn good. I think that smell should give some memories to just about anyone who had a childhood with soda in it or Root Beer Floats.

    First sip and it's smooooooth like you wouldn't believe. The carbonation is such an after thought, I love it. It's like the bubbles stick to the soda so well that you don't even barely feel them be in there but then you get all the nice side effects like good burps. On the topic, I seriously had one of the best burps from drinking this than I have had in months. It was a good, long burp that reminded me of the flavor and smell of the root beer and it wasn't one of those gross ones that gets forced out, it was just a release. So nice.

    After getting to know the flavor a bit more I can say that it's just a pure root beer. Like if you put basically no sugar in a root beer this is more what you would get. The flavor is just very there, it's not masked by lots of sweetness, you just get to bask in the Root Beer flavor and enjoy it fully. The bottle continues to come into play here. It is so thick that the hole for drinking is small so you have to go slow, which is a very good thing. One thing that really confused me however was the distinct lack of froth.

You can see that it's basically just a small ring on the top, almost nothing. For a solid root beer like this I would have expected a solid inch of froth floating joyfully on the top of the liquid, but nope. I like froth in my Root Beer, quite a lot actually but for this I don't know. It was such a solid soda that having too much bubbles on the top may have taken away. I really wish it did at least have some though. Not a huge deal, just disappointing.

      This soda really just makes me happy. It's such a no non-sense soda. It just has a nice, delightful Root Beer flavor and it just hands it to you. The Vanilla Cream Soda from the other day was a total party soda. Like you would have it in Solo cups but Boylan Root Beer is a really authentic soda. I want to point out the logo again. You can see that it's just 3 colors: yellow, white and black. That is totally what this soda is, it doesn't mess around with zany in-your-face logos and flavors. It just presents itself and lets you judge.

     Overall, this is definitely the best Root Beer I have personally ever had. It's not overly sweet and it's extremely root beery. I just loved basically everything about it, I would drink this forever if I could. Spike from gave Boylan a B. You can check out his review on this page. I noticed that he said that it was the foamiest Root Beer he has ever had. I find that interesting since I found almost the complete opposite. I'll definitely check out some of his "A" sodas like the Henry Weinhard Root Beer sometime and see how much I agree with him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Unique Dr. Pepper Experience

This will be a bit more writing intensive because I don't really have any cool pictures that would make sense so sorry about that.

So, I've been at theater for the past week for "tech week". For those that do not know, in a theater the week before the play is called "tech week", that is the time when everyone in the whole theater, actors and technical crew stay until 9 PM everyday after school. That's the reason I haven't posted but you know, no excuses, no regrets. Anyways so we always get fed right after school but that's it. Right around 8 last night Jason and I were on the sound board and we got pretty hungry. We both asked Eitan to go out and grab some McDonald's for us. We both ordered a Big Mac, Fries and a Dr. Pepper.

I was having my meal and then I sipped the Dr. Pepper but it wasn't quite right. To explain why it was "off" and tasted different from canned Dr. Pepper you need to understand how a soda machine works. When you are dispensing the soda into a cup you can see a stream of clear liquid and a stream of colored liquid. The clear is basically just bubbly water and the colored is just syrup. So as you can imagine, too much syrup and you get a very sweet soda, too much water and you get a watery soda. Most people have probably experienced the latter because places that are really cheap will actually turn down how much syrup is dispensed since the syrup is much much more expensive that the carbonated water.

This soda that I had from McDonald's was basically a normal Dr. Pepper but with way too much syrup. Even Jason noticed it and pointed it out. What the most noticeable change was is not the flavor but the feeling in the mouth. When I had finished a sip my mouth would have some saliva and when I swallowed that it actually tasted like Dr. Pepper. Not something like watered down Dr. Pepper but exactly Dr. Pepper. This was due to the large amount of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the soda. The High Fructose Corn Syrup basically sticks the the roof of your mouth. On a bottle of Boylan Root Beer they said that the reason they use sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup is that is leaves a sticky feeling in the mouth. I definitely felt that but I actually really liked it.

I ended up liking the Dr. Pepper quite a bit and it made me wonder if a fast food restaurant could get well known for having sweeter, better tasting sodas than the other ones ad thus sell more. Make it almost a destination "come taste the super Coke!" It would be interesting, there is already about a 10,000% profit on soda sold in Fast Food places so upping the syrup would not hurt you too much and it could really increase sales if you advertise and market it right.