Over the last few days, the flap over Mayor Bloomberg’s absurd attempt to ban sugary drinks deemed too big for anybody’s good has opened up dozens of topics of debate: the slide into a nanny state, how to quell the obesity epidemic, the laughable randomness and futility of this measure, etc, etc.
But the one thing that keeps buzzing around my brain is how, of all of the outsized things in this American life, anyone could land on Big Gulps as Giant-Sized Public Enemy Number One. Sure, to drink more than 16 ounces of sugary juice or soda is bad and all, but I’ve watched dudes at burger joints eat multiple pounds of beef just in order to win an ugly t-shirt, and I regularly see people pound imperial pints, boots and half-liters of beer. And the latter makes them fat and annoying. Not to mention the popularity of the bottomless bread basket at the Olive Garden, the grand tradition of burritos bigger than our heads, and the entire menu at the Cheesecake Factory.
In fact, once one starts thinking about all the things in our life that might benefit from a downsizing, the list easily grows beyond just the obvious food products. A whole lot of our life is stupidly big right now. So why just stop with the Dr. Pepper when I can name a handful of entirely-too-big things right off the top of my head? Starting with …
The King of Prussia Mall: On the upside, you could pretty much burn off that 32-ounce Mountain Dew on your walk from the Urban Outfitters to the Build-A-Bear. But like my pal Michael points out, “you basically need a sherpa to do it.” The test of a good mall isn’t the ability to see it from outer space, KOP—and it shouldn’t take me less time driving there (from Center City) than it does to track down the Banana Republic.
Suburban cineplexes: Twenty movie theaters filled to the brim with thousands of movie-goers is great. Until you get to the popcorn or—heaven help you—the ladies’ bathroom lines.
Wegmans: What the urban grocery stores lack in space, the suburban ones obviously want to make up for. Especially, it would seem, the various Wegman’s: One Philly Magger looking for egg whites at the Collegeville outpost once got lost in the Reidel champagne-glass section and found herself a nice living room rug before she left without the egg whites, which she never found. And the new KOP Wegmans? At 123,000 square feet? With a market that seats more diners than most restaurants? This size thing is starting to feel a little Freudian or something, Wegmans.
One-third of the vehicles on the Schuylkill: Wait, aren’t we supposed to be reducing our carbon footprint? What gives, Hummers?
Famous Fourth’s sandwiches: You pay $16 for enough corned beef to choke a water buffalo (if water buffalo ate beef, which would be so wrong). Split it with a pal and it’s still too much meat, by half. Yeah, yeah … I know the size here is the schtick, but when there are underfed Philly folks just outside on the street, it seems a rather cruel sort of gimmick, no? Waste on this level—or, God forbid, gluttony—maybe should be illegal.