Poland Spring Bottled Water Is the City’s Top Beverage, Proving New Yorkers Really Do Hate Themselves

Earlier this month, Poland Spring — a company that filters free, decently clean water, and then packages it and sells it for a profit — launched a “cheers” campaign highlighting its status as New York’s number one beverage brand. The company did so in support of the NYC Marathon, which is a fine enough gesture. But come on, New York, bottled water?

Unless you live in a place with no access to clean drinking water (by our gutted EPA’s standards, anyway), drinking bottled water is a wasteful exercise. Yes, yes, we all need water to live, and if you’re in Central Park, a public water fountain is certainly a risky proposition in these days of Uber-riding Ebola doctors.

Poland Spring predicates its entire existence upon being from Maine, and it isn’t — at least not entirely. Nearly every bottled-water company purports to source from a specific body of water, but what hits the shelves is mixed and matched from many sources. It’s like blended whiskey, except this is inherently worse because it’s flavorless water that you can get for free. Poland Spring’s water comes from Poland Spring, yes, but also from nearby towns and as far away as Massachusetts.

Moreover, we city dwellers are supposed to be famously proud of our tap water (we’re famously proud of a lot of things, come to think of it…maybe we should cool it a little), so the fact that bottled water could be the most consumed beverage in this town of big ideas and bigger bladders is a travesty. Poland Spring being the number one beverage brand in New York is the quaffable equivalent of Taylor Swift being our ambassador.

We think we should change this — so here are five of our favorite local beverages that deserve the people’s love more than some bottled water. And these are just beverage brands. To us, New York City’s official drink will always be a tossup between an egg cream and a tepid, half-drunk coffee spilled on the floor of a subway car. Cheers!

5. Dr. Brown’s Sodas
The good doctor’s fizzed things up since 1869, and it’s now produced by PepsiCo in its NY bottling plant. For many New Yorkers, this line of soft drinks recalls trips to the local deli. Available in classic flavors like cream, root beer, and black cherry, Dr. Brown is perhaps best known for the celery-flavored Cel-Ray, one of the few vegetable sodas in the world. It’s an acquired taste; the soda is slightly bitter, like tonic and most New Yorkers.

4. Kombucha Brooklyn
Brooklyn’s practically a global brand, and this crunchy outfit fomenting the fermentation revolution seems as good a drinkable mascot for our city as any. In addition to offering DIY kits that let you nurture your own SCOBY mother to fizzy fruition, the company sells bottles of its proprietary brew for a reasonable $3 per bottle. Plus, think of the children: Kombucha comes with a built-in science lesson that’s just waiting to be Googled.

3. New York Distilling Company
Alan Katz, Tom Potter, and Bill Potter have carved out a little slice of malted heaven in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Launched in 2011 with a duo of gins (including a navy-strength that’s become a favorite of city bartenders), the team recently introduced a classic rock and rye. A mix of rock-candy syrup and rye whiskey, the vintage liqueur — a pre-Prohibition favorite — found a place in medicine cabinets during our nation’s dry spell. While other distilleries release white dogs and under-aged whiskeys, these guys have found a niche market and really gone for it.

2. Brooklyn Brewery
As co-founder of both the New York Distilling Company and Brooklyn Brewery, Tom Potter has done more to wet New York’s whistles than nearly any other beverage entrepreneur. While the Bronx is burning up with carboys and tons of hops, the current multi-borough beer renaissance has this ubiquitous King’s County brand to thank for its fermented futures. Started by Potter and Steve Hindy in 1984, Brooklyn Brewery has achieved success thanks in large part to the efforts of outspoken and lauded brewmaster Garrett Oliver, who recently bit back at David Chang for his staunch opinions about suds.

1. Manhattan Special
Nonstop is what New York does best, and this centuries-old espresso soda couldn’t be a better representation of our values. This city can exhaust even the most ambitious among us, and this drink can help you gain your competitive edge one sugary, caffeinated sip at a time. It also happens to taste great, with a satisfyingly strong coffee flavor met with a clean cane-sugar finish. You want versatile? Try it in cocktails, mocktails, or straight up, or, hell, freeze it for some of the best granita you’ve ever tasted.


This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 8/25/2014

Spend the last week of August indulging yourself at these five fine food events.

The Return of Yuji Ramen, Okonomi, 150 Ainslie Street, Brooklyn, Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.

Mazemen addicts can rejoice — pop-up ramen sensation Yuji Ramen is making its long awaited return to the Williamsburg area via Yuji Haraguchi’s brick-and-mortar restaurant Okonomi. The restaurant is now serving its brothless noodles with toppings like bacon and eggs every Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and is also bringing back its omakase dinners, for which you need a reservation, too.

Karaoke Night at Tagine With Solara, Tagine, 221 West 38th Street, New York, Monday, 9 p.m.

For $10, reserve the right to perform your best Katy Perry impersonation, with one complimentary drink included to help loosen up those vocal cords. The restaurant specializes in Moroccan cuisine and also has a hookah lounge.

Caffeine, Cocaine, and the Soda of a Nation, Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

Join the Masters of Social Gastronomy as they talk about the birth of Coca Cola and other famous American sodas. Sarah Loman and Jonathan Soma will share tales about the U.S. government’s plot to take away root beer, the origins of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Rey, and how sarsaparilla became a global sensation. The event is free to attend, and there will be a cash bar available.

Intro to Urban Agriculture, Building 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Architects, city planners, and anyone interested in urban development are encouraged to join Brooklyn Grange co-founder Anastasia Cole Plakias for a survey of the different urban agricultural models. The discussion will be geared towards those interested in starting their own agricultural business, with Plakias providing recommendations on which enterprises make most sense in terms of profitability. Guests are encouraged to bring their own dinner as food will not be served. Tickets are $30.

Reunion Ale ’14 Collaboration for a Cause, The New York Beer Company, 321 West 44th Street, Thursday

If the ice bucket challenge is bringing out your generous spirit, consider stopping by this beer bar’s fundraiser for the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research. For $5, guests receive a raffle ticket with the chance to win a bottle of Schmaltz Brewing Co’s Reunion ’14 Ale, with all proceeds going to support the institute. The three liter bottle — which retails for over $100 — is a special release brew with flavors like coconut, vanilla, and cocoa — so pouring it over your head in celebration is not recommended.


Deal Alert: High Line Soda Bar Opens With $1 Off Sodas Today

At the High Line, fancy soda goes beyond your grandma’s cherry-lime rickey. The park’s first soda bar opens today at West 15th Street, and it features locally made, creatively concocted flavors from Brooklyn Soda Works, including apple and ginger, hibiscus and mint, lemongrass and lime, and the High Line special, tart cherry.

The bar is located in the park at West 15th Street; it will hold court daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through September, and is Friends of the High Line’s latest effort to engage small businesses and integrate local, sustainable, artisanal foods into life of the park.

In celebration, Brooklyn Soda Works and Friends of the High Line are offering $1 off all of the new bar’s offerings.

If soda’s not enough, grab a snack from one of the many delicious vendors in the area: Delaney Barbecue’s Smoke Line, People’s Pops, L’Arte del Gelato, and La Newyorkina are all within spitting distance.


Real Campari-and-Soda Service at Montmartre

Bitter pink Campari with soda water is one of my favorite retro aperitifs, but no one seems to get the proportions right. I find it’s always diluted with too much soda, like a watery dive-bar highball.

At Montmartre, Tien Ho and Gabe Stulman’s new French restaurant in Chelsea, the components of each Campari-and-soda are set up on a tray, so you can plonk in as many cubes as you like and mix it to your taste. It’s lovely and a little old-fashioned, like a Campari-soda should be.

My only complaint is that for a pour of bitters-spiked Campari with a side of soda and ice, the $13 price seems a bit steep. I wish this drink cost less than the rest of the cocktails on the menu, which take more time and skill to prepare–and aren’t DIY.

Montmartre, 158 8th Avenue; 646-596-8838


Soda Ban Appeal Set For June While Mayor Responds To “Anti-Bloomberg” Bill

After New York State Supreme Court Judge Tingling struck down the soda ban on Monday as “arbitrary and capricious,” the administration confidently filed a notice the following day to get this whole thing sorted out. And it looks like we have a time frame: an appeals court has agreed to hear the soda ban case in the first week of June. Restaurants have, like, four months to gorge on fizz.

Moving on. Yesterday, we went into some detail about a little law making its way through the Mississippi statehouse; the legislation, deemed the “Anti-Bloomberg” act, would revert the power of consumer regulation back into the legislature’s hands.

By doing so, no Mississippian municipality can ban sodas or put those pesky letter grades on restaurants. Take that, Big Government!

“You know, Saturday Night Live couldn’t write this stuff.”

Enter Bloomberg.

In a CBS interview on Wednesday, the Mayor chastised the bill as “just farce” and was not hesitant to call shots on the Southern rule of law: “How can somebody try and pass a law that deliberately says we can’t improve the lives of our citizens? … Nobody would believe it if you wrote it in the book.”

And, then of course, the statistics of a legacy to back it all up: “The fact of the matter is, in New York City, people live over two years longer than the average across America and over three years longer than they did when we came into office ten years ago.”

The bill will most likely be signed by the Governor in coming days. And we’re almost positive Mr. Bloomberg will not lose a second of sleep over it.


Mississippi’s “Anti-Bloomberg” Bill, Sarah Palin & Faux Consumer Libertarianism

When Mayor Bloomberg proposed his soda ban all those months ago, it was evident that the bill would receive some flak. Anything above 16 ounces of pop eliminated from storefronts and restaurants? New Yorkers didn’t know whether to yell out “Communism!” or binge drink Big Gulps faster than always-bored teenagers who spend a majority of their day lingering outside of the local 7/11.

It was a public health proposal reminiscent of Bloomberg’s 2002 smoking ban in restaurants and offices, except with a product that had a less shitty public image. Of course, that time, New Yorkers erupted at the then-new Mayor but gradually accepted the cleaner air. And restauranteurs shrugged off their old enemy as more customers came to restaurants, scared before of inhaling the secondhand smoke instead of the sirloin. Now, smoking inside public spaces is not even an after-thought for most.

The backlash against the soda ban, however, has attained a different feature; one that could possibly be linked to this confused conservatism of the present day. The anti-smoking-ban did claim to defend “the rights” of smokers but this opposition, symbolized by New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and other groups, has donned a mask of small government libertarianism. Across the country, the fight for Big Gulps has transformed into an ideological battle between those who view consumerism as a choice and others who view consumerism, like capitalism, as a system that must be closely regulated to prevent unwarranted side-effects.

And that’s exactly what shouldn’t happen.

Soon after Judge Tingling gave his ruling that upended the soda ban yesterday, former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Barracuda unleashed this tweet for the world to see. Even if an endorsement from this one is the last thing New Yorkers want to be associated with:

She describes those who hate the ban as “liberty-loving” and declares, “Govt, stay out of my refrigerator!” It’s hard to say whether the New Yorkers who are against the ban love liberty more than its supporters, let alone the fact that Mr. Tingling struck it down because it was a shitty bill in terms of efficiency, not that it was totalitarian. And most of the things in your refrigerator are already regulated (for the most part but not really) by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

But a card like the phrase “liberty-loving” is very easy to throw down on the table in this day and age; fears of government intervention are at an all-time high, spearheaded by the Tea Party and characters like Ms. Palin. By those standards, any instance where choice is limited by a higher authority is deemed appropriate for a fired-up kind of groupspeak. And there is something to be said when New Yorkers are ideologically tied to Sarah Palin in this strange way.

Then we hear more news of the same ilk from Mississippi.

There, the state is about to pass an “Anti-Bloomberg” law, one that will stop any local government from regulating consumer products. In a state with one of the highest obesity rates in the country, that job will be left up to the legislature, which, if this bill is any indication, don’t seem too keen on doing much.

But the subject of this bill hits the core of the problem at hand. The fact that the Mayor’s proposal has risen Mississippians to actually state this removal of authority is a step backwards. It’s civil libertarianism used like a chess piece and, seriously, soda is too mundane to start a fight over.

If there is to be an ideological battle over this ban, it should not be over our rights as consumers because, face it, we’re Americans – our lives are defined by our transactions. Or the role of government in our affairs: you’re not “liberty-loving,” you’re just jumping onto an ideological bandwagon that’s way too easy to jump on. If you want to hate anything, pick a fight with a drone.

Upon creation in the early 1900s, the FDA’s first goal was to make sure there wasn’t poison in our food (success rate = mediocre); over time, our problem has morphed from a lack of information to its modern form, where we have all this information but still continue to disregard it, leading to shorter life spans and an overall less healthy nation.

So, rather, we should be discussing how the hell we’re going to fix this obesity problem. Yeah, you may disagree with the soda ban and argue that it’s over-reaching on the government’s point but what other alternatives can you provide against an industry that literally thrives off mass consumption? You can direct all your frustration at this fizzy product and call yourself a freedom fighter. You can blare up the war drums and act like this is a battle over the Constitution. But that loud noise doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

Until then, we leave you with this:


Wait, So What Happened With Bloomberg’s Soda Ban? Welp…

Yesterday afternoon, we were seriously busy writing up a post entitled “The Basics To Today’s Soda Ban” a la the one we wrote for the recent MetroCard hike. It was meant to be a symbolic post, an end to the drama revolving around this damn ban and a settlement on its intended enactment this fateful morning in March. But then yesterday happened.

As you probably have heard by now, a New York Supreme Court judge named Milton Tingling Jr. (who just happened to preside over a case involving fizz) struck down the soda ban, arguing that the bill was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences.” Yes, the day before the soda ban was to take effect, it was struck down for its obvious loopholes – all of which led Bloomberg to demand Albany take on a statewide ban.

So what happens next? How long do we have our Big Gulps for now? Is all hope lost for City Hall to have its anti-pop way?

After the court’s decision hit headlines, Mayor Bloomberg moved his press conference – originally set for this morning – to yesterday afternoon. Once again, he supported his “ground-breaking yet sometimes controversial” measures, arguing that the ban would “tackle [obesity] head on.” And then proceeded to defend government intervention on behalf of New Yorkers for their tendency to buy oversized drinks.

You can watch his entire press conference here.

To back that up, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley released this statement to reiterate the whole ‘obesity’ thing:

“Without a portion cap on sugary drinks, it would be harder to tackle an obesity epidemic that kills more New Yorkers than anything other than smoking and causes misery for many thousands more who suffer from heart disease, diabetes and other debilitating illnesses. Sugary drinks are a leading cause of this epidemic. Today’s decision threatens the health of New Yorkers, but we are confident that we will win on appeal.”

Following suit, the City Hall Twitter account announced the next step of the way:

One follower responded, “girlll don’t try it.”

The call for an appeal echoes the administration’s expectations that the ban will be upheld in the end. However, as we all know, the appeals process takes a while; Judge Tingling’s decision must now face a higher legal standard, involving another set of eyes to take a look at this unprecedented move.

Instead of the three month grace period the soda ban would have given to restaraunts before they had to trash all 16-oz.-plus beverages, the soda fans can hold their breath for a bit. So plan on this thing being dragged out until the legal system makes a move.

The Voice will keep you updated.


The Forgotten Inventors of Coca-Cola and Chicken Nuggets

Is this man the inventor of Coca-Cola, or just an unpopular Confederate general?

Over in the Wall Street Journal, Mike Esterl takes a look back at Doc Pemberton, the 19th-century chemist credited with inventing Coke.

Though Pemberton died in 1888, his character was plucked from obscurity by Coca-Cola’s marketing department a couple of years ago. Now his verified Twitter account, where he comments on such topics as modern mustache culture and fashion through the ages, has over 100k followers. (If he were actually still around, Pemberton might be less concerned with the mythology of Coca-Cola and more with #cocainelacedwine, but never mind that.)

See More Good Stuff:
Tofu of the Gods! Tofu Misozuke Is Now at Fairway
Introducing the Potato Sandwich

Esterl does some digging into the controversy of Pemberton’s actual image, the one used by Coca-Cola (seen above left) and finds that a totally different image — one of a thin, vaguely creepy, balding man — may in fact be Coke’s real inventor . . .

In an interesting piece for Slate, Maryn McKenna remembers the man who invented chicken nuggets. Robert C. Barker grew up during the Depression and went on to become a game-changing professor of poultry science (seriously!). He processed chicken and egg to produce nuggets and other convenient, calorie-rich foods at a time when the American poultry industry needed a serious makeover.

“Baker’s prototype nugget, developed with student Joseph Marshall, mastered two food-engineering challenges: keeping ground meat together without putting a skin around it, and keeping batter attached to the meat despite the shrinkage caused by freezing and the explosive heat of frying.”

Barker published his notes on the process in 1963, 18 years before McDonald’s would roll out their similarly processed nuggets, but he’s rarely credited for the invention. As McKenna points out, given the reputation of nuggets these days, maybe that’s not so bad.

[WSJ; Slate]


I Just Drank 100 Ounces Of Mt. Dew In 90 Minutes. Screw You, Mike Bloomberg

Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s dopey “Big-Gulp Ban” was approved by a city health council this morning — which means one thing: a sophomoric, unhealthy and immature gesture needs to be made on someone’s part.

That said, I have just finished my 100th ounce of Mt. Dew in roughly 90 minutes. I’m pretty sure my heart’s about to explode and I’m fairly certain I’ve given myself diabetes — all in the spirit of civil rights, of course.

Some people (read: no people) might consider my stand against soda-bullying heroic — certainly Gandhi and Dr. King took similar stands against ruthless oppression. But my intention is not be lauded as a hero, it’s simply to point out that Bloomberg’s ban is a stupid idea that will do nothing to prevent obesity, which is the mayor’s intention.

First and foremost, I don’t even like Mt. Dew. Hate it, actually — it’s a color that doesn’t appear anywhere in nature and tastes like citrus-y cat piss. But as far health risks go, it’s about as bad as it gets.

For further reading on Bloomberg’s ban, visit our Nanny-State of Mind Archives.

That said, you can buy 50 ounces of it for less than two bucks at any 7-Eleven. Under Bloomberg’s ban, you will still be able to buy 50 ounces of it for less than two bucks at any 7-Eleven. However, you would only be able to buy it in a 16 ounce container at the pizza place located directly next door, which has restaurant owners worried about losing revenue to businesses not subject to the ban.

Makes complete sense — if you’re a fucking idiot.

As I mentioned, I currently feel like I’m about to die — this crap has given me a brutal headache, my stomach is in knots from the enormous amount of sugar I just dumped into it, and I’m as jittery as a crackhead who couldn’t score any rock. Needless to say, I will not be drinking 100 ounces of Mt. Dew again anytime soon. And that’s because I’m a grownup.

One of the many advantages to being an adult is not having to listen to people who want to tell you what you can and can’t eat. If I want cupcakes and beer for breakfast, I eat cupcakes and drink beer for breakfast. I then deal with the consequences — like the sugar-induced seizure I’m approaching right now — and learn from any mistakes (like drinking 100 ounces of Mt. Dew in 90 minutes).

Bottom line: Bloomberg’s ban will do nothing to curb obesity — it will only hurt businesses and piss off people who don’t need an elderly billionaire to wipe their asses for them.


Big-Gulp Ban Passes; Soda Fans “Exploring Legal Options”

*Update: in an act of civil disobedience, we just drank 100 ounces of Mt. Dew in 90 minutes.

As expected, Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s proposed “Big-Gulp Ban” has been approved by a city health council, but opponents of the new ban say the fight to not let Hizzonor treat us like children isn’t over.

“This is not the end,” says Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for
Beverage Choices. “We are exploring legal options, and all other avenues
available to us. We will continue to voice our opposition to this ban
and fight for the right of New Yorkers to make their own choices. And
we will stand with the business owners who will be hurt by these
arbitrary limitations.”

The plan, as we’ve chronicled, makes no sense — it prohibits restaurants, sports venues and movie theaters from selling soda in containers larger than 16 ounces. However, there is nothing to stop a person from simply buying two sodas, or purchasing whatever size soda they want from a business like a bodega or grocery store, which aren’t subject to the ban.

For further reading on Bloomberg’s ban, visit our Nanny-State of Mind Archives.


In addition to doing literally nothing to curb obesity, critics say
the mayor’s plan will hurt businesses — again, while doing literally
nothing to curb obesity.

“The average New Yorker only goes to the movies four times a
year, and purchases concessions twice,” says Robert Sunshine, executive
director of the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York
State. “The choices made during the
other 363 days out of the year have a much greater impact upon public
health and serious issues like obesity. With ticket sales this summer
at a ten year low, and down again another three percent in 2012, this
ban will only serve to further reduce lines at theaters, not the
waistlines of our patrons.”

Again, those opposed to the mayor’s
ban say the fight isn’t over, and expect that public outrage will
continue to grow with today’s passage — so stay tuned…