Beverages

It’s Insane How Much Pop I Drank as a Kid

soda pop kids

I’m a sucker for pop… or soda, or soft drinks, or whatever you want to call them. Delicious sugary syrup mixed with carbonated water in a can, I can’t get enough of it. These days, however, I don’t drink nearly as much of it as I used to, mainly because I feel like it could be part of the cause of my stomach issues, but also because I don’t like spending money on it. Most of my liquid intake these days is from water (thank god for Yeti Tumblers). But while water is obviously the healthiest choice of beverage, it has absolutely no flavor, and sometimes you just need that blast of sugar.

I still treat myself to pop every once in a while, but I try to look for pop that contains real sugar, or cane sugar, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup. Mexican Coke or IBC Root Beer are usually enough to give me my fix, but on occasion I’ll have to dip into the pits of hell and drink some HFCS. It doesn’t kill me, but it doesn’t make me feel good after that initial sugar rush wears off.

But while I could go on and on about how delicious pop is, that’s not what I wanted to focus on in this article. I want to focus on the fact that now that I’m an adult and I have kids, it’s absolutely amazing to me the amount of pop I, and everyone I knew, drank as kids.

2-3 Cans of Pop a Day Was Not Unheard Of

I was born in the early 80’s in a time where, I guess, it wasn’t as well known that sugar was essentially poison for our bodies. And I guess that rings true with a lot of things in that era. I definitely don’t remember riding in a car seat until I was like 8. I mean, we had a booster seat, but by the time we were 8 we were sitting in the front seat during drives and we were being locked in the car for 20-30 minutes while our mom ran into the grocery store real quick. I don’t see people taking too kindly to that kind of behavior these days.

Hell, I remember our family taking road trips to Florida, from Chicago, and half the time my brothers and I were asleep in the very back of the mini van where there weren’t even any seats, let along seat belts or car seats. But like I said, it was a different time, which is why thinking back on this it’s not that surprising that we drank so much pop, but of course that sort of thing doesn’t fly today… at least not within my circle of people.

You don’t really see that many kids these days downing Pepsi (Coke was not allowed in our house unless it was Cherry Coke) like we did as kids.

I would say that it probably started more around middle school, 7th-8th grade, and then through high school and into college, but pretty much every lunch or snack we ate was washed down with a nice tall glass of cold Pepsi… delicious, delicious Pepsi. And don’t get me wrong, we drank milk and stuff, but that was usually reserved for dinner.

Once we got to high school I’m sure that over summer break, when we had friends over playing Nintendo 64 or playing on the trampoline, we could easily go through an entire 24 pack of pop in a week… probably even less, and that was just the kids! As the kids in the house we weren’t allowed to drink the actual Pepsi most of the time as that was reserved for my dad. We had a tendency to open a can of Pepsi, drink half of it, and leave it sitting around for too long so it got warm, then we’d open another one, thus wasting a lot of delicious sugar water. It got to the point, a few times, where we would do that to an entire case and my dad would want one and we’d be out… so needless to say, we were banned from drinking the actual Pepsi, but there was always plenty of Cherry Coke in the house.

Now, my kids aren’t quite old enough to be at that stage yet, but I don’t think that when they get to middle school they are going to be chugging pop like it’s the elixir of life. It was definitely a different time.

It just still amazes me how much pop we actually drank. I would say a normal day, even a school day, would consist of a can of pop with lunch, a can of pop when we got home from school (before dinner), milk with dinner, and then a can of pop after dinner at some point. That probably wasn’t every day in high school, but I would say it was pretty typical. And then on weekends or summer break, forget about it… it was just a constant barrage of sugar water to our systems.

I do sometimes wonder if all that pop, as well as being on so many antibiotics for such long periods of time for acne, as a kid, is part of the reason why I suffer from stomach issues and IBS now as I get older… It may not be, it could just be genetics, but it does make me wonder sometimes.

College Was Even Worse

High school aside, college shot my sugar/caffeine addiction to a whole different level. I actually think I was trying to get myself hooked on caffeine for some reason (don’t ask, college kids make dumb decisions).

With no adults to supervise, or insist I drink a glass of milk with dinner, it was literally cans of pop (Cherry Coke specifically) one after another, all day every day. It’s disgusting to think about. My dorm room always had a stocked fridge at any given moment.

dorm room 2000
Actual photo of my dorm room freshman year of college, complete with Cherry Coke, I’m sure the fridge had more in it.

I actually do remember a time when I decided that I was going to stop drinking caffeine in college, although I’m not really sure why, but instead I just started drinking Snapple… Which is still loaded with an insane amount of sugar. So while I got rid of the caffeine, and subsequently got sick for like a week while doing so, I was still drinking an absolute f$%# ton of sugar every day… and probably spending more money than if I was buying cans of pop.

But, that’s just how things were. This wasn’t something that only I did, it was everyone I knew. Nobody was out there telling us to drink water instead, they just wanted us to drink something… and that something was apparently pop… and probably sugar filled “juices”. Who remembers Hawaiian Punch? So good…

college dorm 2000
Here’s another shot of the room, same day, MORE CHERRY COKE!

But now I’m curious. When you were younger, did you drink as much pop as I remember drinking? Do you let your kids drink pop? If so, at what age, and how much do they drink?

I’m absolutely not trying to look down on anyone who still gives their kids pop in this day and age, I honestly don’t care what you feed your kids, that’s your business. I’m just curious if the overall pop consumption is down among kids in middle school and high school (which I’m guessing it is), or if it just seems like it in the region I live in.

On that note though, I did snag a bottle of Coke from my parents house this morning, which they only bought cause they were hosting Easter brunch this year and some of the adults still drink a lot of pop, so I’m going to go drink that now and get my weekly sugar water fix.

But, while I still do love me some pop, I can now make a 20 ounce bottle last a week instead of an hour, so I guess that’s progress…

About the author

Tom

I'm a married man in his 30's who doesn't really "like" food. If it weren't for my wife I would be living off of pizza and cheeseburgers for the rest of my life. Follow me as I venture slightly out of my comfort zone to try different foods and restaurants.

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