Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No (Diet) Coke for You

We went to a cookout over the holiday weekend, and I had a revelation while searching the cooler for a soda: Black people in the South don't believe in Diet Coke.

I'm black and Southern, so I feel qualified to make make this sweeping (and thoroughly unresearched) argument. It's not good or bad. I've just noticed that whenever I'm at a shindig hosted by friends who are black, nine times out of 10, there isn't a diet soft drink to be found. This seems to hold true across class lines, though younger African-American hosts are slightly more likely to provide a diet option.

I suppose it's a logical omission. If you're eating beef hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, buffalo wings and potato salad, is a calorie-free drink really going to help your waistline? Sodas laced with fake sweeteners have no health benefits. And as the great philosopher Paris Hilton once said, "Diet Coke is for fat people." (She has yet to make a statement about my preferred beverage, Coke Zero.)

Still, ignoring the existence of Diet Coke is an old school act of protest in this age of constant calorie-awareness. Aspartame is for The Man and the hopelessly assimilated.

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