Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thirst and Nostalgia VS. Styrofoam

Something that has bothered me this summer has been the internal dissonance I am experiencing surrounding Circle K Thirstbusters.

I grew up (largely) in Arizona, and Thirstbusters meant summer.  I don't ever remember buying a Thirstbuster in winter, but in summer the large paper cups of ice and sweet, sweet caffeinated cola or root beer were a special treat.  This was in rural Arizona back in the day before soda was ubiquitous, or even obligatory, at least in my house.  The Pepsis in the refrigerator were not for the kids-- they belonged exclusively to my stepfather.  We drank water, milk or juice most of the time, or in summer there might be a pitcher of Kool Aid or a jar of sun tea in the fridge.  But a Thirstbuster felt unbelievably abundant-- ice, sweet soda and a straw and lid.  Thirstbusters still say summer, but I hadn't really thought of it that way until I started to notice the current ad campaign for Thirstbusters, in which their new, sturdy styrofoam cups are featured

There is a teacher at our school who shall remain nameless (Garbe) whose mission it is for us all to ride our bikes and stop buying styrofoam.  I agree, it is good to be reminded of the simple things we can do that are good for us and good for the Earth.  And so these commercials which feature a gigantic styrofoam cup winning a race against other cups are disturbing.  We remodeled a house all summer; money was tight, and those 79 cent Thirstbusters served a purpose both hydrating and caffeine-infusing, and provided a needed respite from liter after liter of water.  However.. the STYROFOAM!

Then I started realizing that there is a whole slew of ads out right now which, really, sell the packaging, promote the packaging, even deify the packaging.

I find these commercials to be immoral, frankly. More powerfully than simply emphasizing the convenience or practicality of the packaging, they push it as a completely amazing phenomenon in itself.

Sure, most of us end up buying portion-sized pouch beverages or microwave popcorn from time to time, but should we be buying more because of how awesome the package is?  Besides the practicality of your Thirstbuster cup not becoming soggy over the hours, the only good reason I can think of for these kinds of promotions is that these companies have to fight the wave of common sense that is sweeping the country. Perhaps these commercials are actually good news, and mean that companies are feeling the pressure from consumers who are choosing NOT to purchase their whole grain popcorn mysteriously packaged insight sealed-tight bags with who knows what chemical additives, and choosing NOT to send their kids with their drinks in foil and plastic pouches for lunch at school.

If that is the case, then by all means, Americans, carry on!  If however, you become very agitated with excitement when your popcorn bag turns into a bowl, maybe you should go outside and play a while, visit a park, go for  walk.  Find something else to get worked up about.  Spend your money on bowls you can wash and re-use.

Will I continue to buy the occasional 79 cent Thirstbuster in summer?  Will I still find them irresistably refreshing, especially now that we have a whole bank of choices about how to fill them?  Probably.  But I will think twice, and maybe do it less often.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate your response: