Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's Nothing Sweet about a Big Gulp Ban

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's Nothing Sweet about a Big Gulp Ban

Article excerpt

Years from now, all Pittsburghers will remember where we were when we first heard this.

"It couldn't happen here," we'll all recall saying. "Not in a place that considers a six-pack an aperitif."

A government damper on caloric intake seems particularly out of sync this weekend as we reopen the Three Rivers Arts and Rain Festival, where eating for the ethnic cycle -- Italian sausage, haluski, bratwurst and Greek pastry -- is an annual rite of spring.

Yet there it was Friday on the front page: Mayor Bloomberg said that, by March, New York's restaurants, movie theaters and sports palaces should be banned from selling any sugary drink larger than 16 ounces.

You could buy two if you wanted more, the mayor explained, but you must "make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup."

It's all to combat obesity, to hear him tell it, but part of me wonders if this is just the mayor's way of providing material for his city's comedy industry. David Letterman and his peers have an insatiable appetite for straight lines. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" chewed through this like a bridesmaid at the cookie table.

The mayor's proposal, Mr. Stewart said, "combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect!"

We kid, but this is serious. We eat heavy hereabouts. When Pittsburghers talk fish sandwiches, we're as likely to talk size as we are taste. We've put fries on our salads and in our sandwiches, and there's an all-you-can-eat section in our ballpark where a guy can sit in Sections 145 through 147 -- and that's just one guy, mind you.

The other night at the ballpark, I didn't think twice about buying the Polish Hill dog: cole slaw, fried onion strings and mini- pierogies atop a long doggie. Hmmm, boy, everyone should try one once (and I emphasize once).

Might such starch explosions, such moist monuments of mystery meat and potatoes, one day be banned? If soft drinks are vulnerable, what next?

Mayor Bloomberg's proposal exempts convenience and grocery stores, but the Big Gulp's days in the Big Apple are clearly numbered. …

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