NYC soda ban sparks mass confusion

March 7, 2013 | by Cherryh Cansler

Although the ban on large surgary drinks is supposed to take effect in New York City next week, some chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, aren't going to allow it to kill their buzz, according to Yahoo News.

"We believe that the majority of our products fall outside of the ban given the ability of our customers to customize their beverage," Starbucks said in a statement to Yahoo News. "As there is still ongoing litigation regarding the regulation, we're not making any immediate changes at this time."

The regulation will stop restaurants from selling sugary beverages, including non-diet sodas, fruit drinks, sweetened teas and other high-calorie drinks, in sizes larger than 16 ounces, but New Yorkers can still get those super sizes in gas stations. So while they can't order a  20-ounce Coke during a lunch out, they'll be able to score one down the street at the local 7-Eleven.

Also, the ban doesn't cover drinks made with "50 percent milk," which is how Starbucks is planning to keep selling Frappuccinos in its 20-ounce Venti size. Although not a soda, these drinks, along with milkshakes, which are also protected, are very high in sugar and calories. In fact, a 16-ounce blended Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks is 410 calories and has 64 grams of sugar, while a 16-ounce Rock Star Energy soda has only 248 calories and two less grams of sugar.

Why is one OK but not the other?

In another way to get around the ban, a few New York Dunkin' Donuts have posted signs warning customers that they'll have to add their own cream and sugar to their drinks, so they can still order them in large sizes.

Luckily for bars, the law doesn't affect booze, but what about drinks served with soda? Does it that mean that a bartender can serve someone who orders a rum and Coke 16 ounces of soda, plus the liquor, or is the entire drink supposed to be under 16 ounces? People often order "talls," so they can have a larger soda-to-alcohol ratio, which keeps many from intaking too much booze. This law seems to encouage the opposite.

Hopefully, these questions will be ironed out soon. In the meantime, everyone can just opt for the 96-ounce fishbowl margarita. They don't have soda!

Topics: Food & Beverage , Operations Management

Cherryh Cansler / Cherryh Cansler has been a reporter and editor for nearly 15 years, writing on a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining Networld Media Group as managing editor of Food/Retail Publications, she was content specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City and has served as editor for several publications. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.
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