Aren’t you smarter than that?

Every time I get to the checkout counter at a convenience store or DG, I look at what the store has for sale up there. It’s there where they keep the amusing stuff … the tabloids and Hollywood mags of who’s cheating on whom, and who’s gotten fat (or skinny) and who got dumped, and the latest elephant boy UFO abductions. Just above those items of  worthless disinformation lie the fiery red 2 ounce bottles of,  Ta da … liquid energy that sell for $2.50 plus tax.  

Several times in unbelievable awe I have asked the checker if they sell much of that stuff. Every answer is, “Oh we sell the heck outta that stuff.” I am just floored at the marketing prowess of our capitalist system. The ingredients in that 2 oz bottle can’t possibly cost more than 5 cents. Add that beautifully decorated plastic bottle and shipping and the store profit and the manufacturers have to be making nearly 800% profit. 

What ARE the ingredients? Caffeine 200 mg, (as in an average cup of coffee), some B-vitamins, a few amino acids, and sugar water (or artificial sweetener like Sucralose). One could easily make his own – and much better –  using a No Doz tablet, and a multiple vitamin pill crushed together in  2 oz of Aunt Jemima’s table syrup for around 15 cents. The amino acids don’t even belong there – you get all 20 amino acids necessary for life for a day in a  ¼ lb hamburger meat patty. 

I found a recipe for homemade Gatorade on the Internet –Kool-aid, sugar, water and sea salt for ¼ what that stuff costs in the store.

Once again slick marketing has overwhelmed common sense. I applaud those who know how to do that, to convince people they’ll be complete and healthier and whole if they buy their product. That kind of knowledge is better than owning a gold mine or a chicken ranch in La Grange.

Take bottled water. At the checkout is a fridge with cold drinks (is that a redundancy? Sorry.) They ask $1 for a 20 oz water but a gallon in the back is 50 cents. You can buy a 20 oz cola for $1.89 when a warm 2 liter (68 oz) off the back shelf sells for a dollar. Who can explain this willingness to part with money with no regard to wise spending? 

I see people at Sam’s with 3 or 4 shrink-wrapped cases of bottled water when it costs much less than a penny to drink delicious Kyle or Buda water out of the kitchen tap. Then I wonder about what happens to all those plastic bottles. Now I’m no raving carbon cursing green fellow, but I cannot help pondering the humongous carbon footprint heavy water leaves when it is transported by diesel smog spewing mega trucks from store to store. Read the labels on the bottles concerning the source. You may think it was hand dipped from some spring in the Ozarks when in actuality its source is Houston municipal water supply. That’s no joke, really! And there’s that plastic trash island the size of Texas swirling around in the North Pacific. Does the convenience (?) of bottled water eclipse what the containers are doing to the planet? 

Again, how did the marketers convince us that bottled water was safer and tastier than what comes out of our pipes? 

Education is the key to this dilemma. I would expect wise spending would be taught in the public schools in the home economics department or touched on in Basic Life Skills, or something. Or, just maybe, the parents will provide an example for their kids.  What a concept! 

Spending wisely, not falling for slick marketing, might go hand in hand toward developing a social conscience. Can’t  hurt to try.


Ray Wolbrecht is a retired dentist from Kyle and writes about all kinds of topics.

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