The BIG news in NYC this week is that Mayor Bloomberg is advocating the ban of BIG sodas in an attempt to combat the city’s BIG obesity problem. That sentence reads like it is supposed to be the storyline for a never-before-seen Seinfeld episode, but alas it is true and on the front page of most of our dailies. I’m confused by this strategy, believing this move won’t really solve the very real problem of obesity that this city faces, but I thought I would try and put a fun twist on the whole thing. Big sodas are referenced quite often in the pop-culture space – sometimes to help define a time period, sometimes to help define a character – and without the slushies and the big gulps and the Sunny D’s, some of our favorite pop-culture references would not be the same… let’s discuss.
So I guess something that everyone on this Earth already knows is that slushies play a very important role on the FOX hit Glee. I don’t watch the show so I had to be educated about this by my fellow PCA cohorts. From what I understand, the Glee kids get “slushied” by the cool kids on a pretty regular basis to remind them that they are not the cool kids. There are even cases of rocks being mixed into the slushies, causing pain and serious injury when thrown! I had no idea this show was so violent. Anyway, now that I think about it, I can recall that every advertisement (42nd street billboard, full page magazine spread and other) I’ve ever seen for this show involves the Glee kids merrily tossing that recognizable candy colored beverage from a tell-tale plastic container. And now I know why.
Next we have a big soda reference in a beloved movie from the 90s. Can you guess it? I’ll set the scene. Two people are out on a somewhat awkward date, sitting in the back of a convertible, drinking Big Gulps, discussing astronomy, when they begin to make out, as Peter Frampton plays on the radio… and Ethan Hawke walks by. Yes, it’s Reality Bites and yes, it is one of the greatest movies from that decade and yes, Ethan Hawke can pull off that greasy hair-do, no problem. I find it so fitting that Winona Ryder‘s character, Leleina would have suggested Big Gulp slurping as the perfect first date activity. It also served to demonstrate what we all knew right off the bat – that Ben Stiller was not the person she should be slurping Big Gulps with.
Another movie with a poignant big beverage scene is the touchingly warm story of teenage pregnancy, Juno. I love this movie. I love Ellen Paige, I love Jason Bateman (even though he is a bit of a douche) and I love Michael Cera. I love the teenage speak between Juno and her friend Leah, and I have stolen the Phuket, Thailand exclamation in time of catastrophe on more than one occasion. But I digress. The first scene in the movie, we see the beloved Juno walking and chugging her large bottle of Sunny-D, on her way to what we soon discover is the pharmacy where it is time to take another pregnancy test – thanks to her consumption of the entire large Sunny-D. Again, the fact that she was drinking a large Sunny-D (and not a Perrier, Zico Coconut water or POM Wonderful) just seemed to define Juno and make me fall in love with her from the start, for just being a teenager.
So that is my spiel on BIG sodas and their cultural significance. Now tell us, which slurpie throwing, Big Gulp drinking, Sunny-D downing actress is your favorite?