Last year, Beverage Digest reported a 16 percent drop in the number of sodas being consumed by Americans since the peak of consumption in 1998. John Sicher, the publisher of Beverage Digest, told the New York Times in an interview that he wonders if this decline will; “Bottom out,” but also suggests that; “This drop in consumption could be the beginning of a shift away from carbonated soft drinks.”
However, through a series of interviews conducted on teens opinion of soda, it seems as though their thoughts are unchanged no matter what experts and statistics say.
Addison Myer, a junior at Penn Manor had this to say; “I don’t care what statistics say, I think sodas gonna stick around, and I’m gonna keep drinking it.”
Myer’s girlfriend, Devon Andresen, a sophomore at Pequea Valley has a totally different opinion. She no longer drinks soda because she believes; “It’s fattening,” and drinks water instead.
When asked if teens are concerned about their health being affected from drinking soda, Erik Robison, a student in his junior year here at Penn Manor, said, “I couldn’t care less about how much soda I drink, and I know that many other teens would probably agree with me.”
Teens don’t even seem to like the idea of alternative carbonated drinks. Even diet soda, which some health experts suggest because it contains calorie-free artificial sweeteners and no caffeine, (plus bacteria can’t live on fake sugar, it needs real sugar so it’s actually better for your teeth) isn’t good enough for teens either.
Blake Wisnieski, an 11th grader from Penn Manor said, “Diet versions of soda, like Diet Coke, are bland, have a bad aftertaste, and basically taste (bad).”
Tyler Trostle, a junior at Penn Manor expressed his attitude towards soda saying, “Soda is addicting, (but not literally), there’s just nothing better than Dr. Pepper,” which is Tyler’s favorite brand of soda. Sounds like other drinks just don’t satisfy.
Many brands of soda are sold here in vending machines at Penn Manor’s cafeteria, ranging from Coca-Cola to Sunkist, in 20-ounce bottles for a price of a $1.75 each. There is a catch though, if you’re craving a soda to go along with that pizza you just bought, you’re out of luck.
The vending machines are not active between the times of 7:20 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.
Why is that? Cherylln Wolf, the school’s Cafeteria Manager has the explanation.
“The PBE, (Pennsylvania Board of Education), decides what the schools serve to eat and drink in the cafeteria. They want us to provide our students with healthier choices, like milk, water, and fruit juices. And that is why the machines aren’t useable during school hours. Unless the power goes out, then the timers are reset. So if you want a soda, you going to have to get it when you get here at school in the morning, or at the end of the day.”
The soda machines located next to the band room, weight lifting room, and in the technology wing however, are not on timers and because they are not in the cafeteria, sell soda at all times during the day.
What’s the point of even having vending machines that sell soda then? According to Wolf, the school brings in a considerable amount of profit from selling sodas at events held in the cafeteria, such as banquets, luncheons, and meetings. Penn Manor also has contracts with PepsiCo and other representatives of soda manufacturers to have the machines in the cafeteria in the first place.
The laws placed by the PBE allow a school’s board of education a majority of the control over such machines and it is most likely some of the money put into the machines is pocketed by the school.
As federal and state laws continue to monitor and control what’s available to the students in school cafeterias across the country, the drinks at lunchtime that they have imposed is something that students have accepted. But outside the confines of the school, very few teens are swayed by statistics and the healthier alternatives stocked within the coolers. They’re just going to keep drinking soda.