Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Big 30

Starbucks is set to offer the Trenta, a 31 ounce drink that will debut in 14 US states. It is one size up from the Venti, which is currently the largest size on hand for the coffee shop, which, in case you're wondering, is that mini-thermos that you see on the bar from time to time where a shaking hand often collects it, looking thankfully at the barista like they're actually their long lost relative. It appears that America just can't get enough of caffeine- which comes as no surprise, because they apparently can't get enough of, well, anything.

The National Post in Canada revealed that the Starbucks Trenta is actually larger than the human stomach can handle. While the average human stomach can take about 900ml, the Trenta comes in at 916 ml. This is just a question of capacity and has nothing to do whatsoever with the human body's ability to maintain that level of caffeine or sugar at a given time. Good thing that AEDS are more prevalent than ever-they will probably become mandatory at every Starbucks and KFC in America at some point.

There's no need to go through the argument of who needs that much caffeine. Science has already shown that nobody needs that much caffeine, even if they run marathons and rule a small nation on the side as a part time gig. The fact of the matter is that Starbucks will respond to what the nation WANTS- and if the nation wants more caffeine than their stomachs can process, well, that's what they will get.

Leaving aside the detrimental side effects to peoples' health, the trenta does prove a point about the changing and seemingly insatiable appetites of the public. Is there a market for this supersized drink? Of course there is. There are always those people who believe that they can never have too much of a good thing or that they legitimately need more of something than the average person. But just how much is too much? And just how far is too far?

We're constantly pushing the limit on this one and it's not necessarily a hallmark of human innovation or progress as we move forward. Excess is not one of our better traits. The Trenta poses serious health risks, and brings up the moral question that's been haunting corporate America from its roots: is it simply enough to justify health risks because of the public's wants? Does the public rule in this case?

The public may like public executions and cigarettes, but efforts over time have been made to curb those things. Junk food may be one of the last battlefields of public good vs. public consumption. Hopefully, Canada will stop the Trenta in its tracks before it creeps over the border, leaving a trail of caffeine addicts in its wake.

Cows are known to eat more than their stomachs can handle. They have separate linings in their stomachs to handle this, as they stand mutely in fields, chewing their lives away with that big dumb stare. And this may be going out on a limb here- but I still think that humans are better than cows.

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