“You Owe Me A Coke”

The other day a much younger colleague and I were discussing something. We each sent the other an email expressing the same thought that crossed in the internet ether.

Her reaction was to say “jinx.” Mine was to say “you owe me a Coke,” which I’m sure baffled her. And as I thought about my reflexive response, I realized that “you owe me a Coke” even baffled me. That’s been my standard response to two people saying the same thing at the same time for as long as I can remember, but I have no idea why that’s the correct phrase to say at that moment, or even when I learned to say “you owe me a Coke” under those circumstances. I’m guessing it happened when I was a kid and some older and more worldly kid used that phrase and explained that it was what you do when that happens, and you need to say it before the other person does. I promptly incorporated that notion into my understanding of how the world works, as kids do, and there it remains. I’ve forgotten the incident, but definitely remember the phrase.

Internet searches don’t really shed any light on why anyone–me included–would say “you owe me a Coke” in this scenario. It’s recognized as one of the things you do when people say the same thing at the same time. (According to some websites, another thing that you can do is punch the other person in the arm, and now that I think of it, I seem to remember getting slugged in the arm a few times, too.) But the origins of “you owe me a Coke” seem to be lost in the mists of time. Who came up with that notion? Why would one person need to buy the other a soda, and why a Coke, specifically? And for that matter, has anyone ever really lived up to the obligation and actually bought the person who said it first a Coke?

It’s just destined to be one of life’s enduring mysteries, I suppose.

Hands Off Our Coke! (And Pepsi)

California is at it again.  It has determined that because the caramel coloring used in Coke and Pepsi includes a substance that a study has found causes cancer in mice, the soft drinks need to include a cancer warning label.  Not surprisingly, Coke and Pepsi have decided instead to change their recipes — and because it would be more costly to just change the recipe for soda sold in California, the recipes will be changed for all Coke and Pepsi products sold in the U.S.

What’s that, you say?  You haven’t noticed that the soft drink-guzzling Americans you see on the street, who have been swilling Coke and Pepsi on a daily basis for decades, have turned into tumorous monstrosities?  That’s because the study on which California’s determination is based deals with tumors in mice, not people.  What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration states that a human would need to drink more than a thousand cans of Coke and Pepsi a day to equal the dose administered to the mice in the study. Even the most slothful, couch-bound, Coke-addicted video game geek couldn’t approach such levels.

This latest action by California is another example of our regulatory state run amok. Studies, no doubt funded in part by tax dollars, test substances on rodents at ludicrous exposure levels and find increased incidence of cancer, which is not surprising because gross overexposure to just about anything — including water — can be harmful.  Then, “consumer advocacy groups” use the study results to start the drumbeat to ban the substance, advancing the dubious argument that because absurd exposure levels are associated with increased cancer incidence in mice, any exposure at any level increases the risk of cancer in humans.  Then, nanny states like California issue edicts like the one directed to Coke and Pepsi and manufacturers have to change what they are doing, thereby increasing costs and messing with products that Americans have used for years without any problem.

At some point, I hope, people will wake up to the sham nature of such “public health” findings and demand that states like California reserve their intrusive regulations for those rare cases that raise real public health issues — ones that don’t assume consumers quaff 1,000 cans of Coke a day.  Until then, hands off our Coke!