Today was going to be the last day before New York City's ban on large containers of soda would go into effect — until, that is, a judge on the New York Supreme Court halted the ban, after he determined that it would be impossible to fairly and effectively enforce. That doesn't mean the data underlying the ban — that we drink a lot of soda, that soda contains a lot of sugar, and that a lot of sugar is bad for you — are suddenly invalid. How much soda do we drink, by the way? According to an Associated Press report published on Monday, independent of controversial numbers from the mayor's office cited by the judge, the average American consumes 44 gallons of the soda per year. To help you visualize just how much soda that is, here is a 45-gallon aquarium sold online by Petsmart.com:
As the AP notes, our 44-gallons-per-year habit is on the low end of recent history. In 1998, Americans drank an average of 58 gallons per year. The 15-year decline is largely attributed to worries about obesity, and not, say, a shift in advertising. As you'll see in the ad below, which aired in 1998, soda was advertised not as a food product but as a cultural touchstone — much as it is today.