At the trade show last week, no outside food or beverages were allowed. Instead, vendors inside were giving food and beverages away to promote their products to the attendees. Because our family had stopped drinking sugared beverages a long time ago, I asked the show operators if we could bring in water. The operators said no, that there would be vendors with water in the show. Sure enough, two major soft drink makers were there, and had a high percentage of their own bottled water brands. It turned out that this high percentage wasn’t high enough.
Now, remember, that all the food and drinks inside were free, so what happened next was as much a pure scientific experiment in choice as is possible. With all the boutique options available from both vendors, plus a large number of coffees of all types, slushies, cappuccino, refrigerated fruit mixes, you name it, from smaller vendors, the one thing that ran out first, in about three hours, was simple bottled water. One stand nearby was practically shoving out high fructose slushies at people. Most people who accepted them took a polite sip, and then tossed the rest into the trash. Many people examined the ingredients (HFCS was on the top of the lists of most vendors, I checked) and made a face. The trash cans turned into slushie and sugared coffee soup.
After the water ran out, it still didn’t make any difference. All of that HFCS crap was still considered more or less undrinkable. People would open up some boutique thing, take a few swigs, and then toss the rest. It was a blood-bath. They literally could not give that stuff away. We wound up sneaking out of the venue every so often and chugging a couple of pints of distilled water we bought at Walmart by the gallon. I budget about a gallon per day per person on trips and then we stock up when we arrive at the target location. We refill our bottles from those gallon jugs just for the convenience. We also stop at Zaxby’s on trips and get chicken strips. We like drinking water there because the filtration on their soft drink machines is awesome, and top off our cups before leaving. There’s a pattern here, somewhere.
In the face of all of that zero-cost market data from the trade show, it would be completely astonishing if these major brands didn’t start making soft drinks with real sugar instead. Any brand that did this would probably take off like a rocket. Until they do, plain old water is going to continue to be the growing #1 beverage of choice.