August 11, 2003

Only in California...

In recent news the Contra Costa Sun reports that, with more than 100 different candidates on the ballot for the California governor recall election (thus making it conceivable that the winner will be somebody with a plurality of 20%--now that's a mandate for the exercise of legitimate political authority you), my fair state of California has recaptured the proud title of Doofus State that Florida had snatched away with its impressive performance in the 2000 presidential election.

But it's not just in politics that California is the Doofus State. Consider the Odwalla Company, manufacturer of the excellent--delicious--wonderful--ambrosianic--Summertime Lime Quencher, which may be the best cold drink in the universe (and if it isn't, adding some vodka will surely fix that). Look on the side, where the Odwalla Company lists the ingredients:

  1. Water.
  2. Lime juice.
  3. Organic evaporated cane juice (10%).

Now I ask you, would a company anyplace other than California call "sugar" by the name of "organic evaporated cane juice"? It's C6H12O6 either way. Does the Odwalla Company think that we are too stupid here in California to know that when you take "organic cane juice" and "evaporate" the water from it, what is left is what the hoi polloi call "sugar"? Does the Odwalla Company think that we Californians will scorn their product if they are rude enough to actually write S-U-G-A-R on the side of the bottle, just as supposedly Victorian ladies would gasp if anyone referred to the "legs" of a table or to the "enceinteness" of a cat?

Or do I just live in the Doofus State?

Posted by DeLong at August 11, 2003 03:04 PM | TrackBack

Comments

"Sugar", of course, is a manufactured evil, and as such is to be avoided. Much better are natural substances, like scorpion venom, mercury, and botox.

Posted by: Jon H on August 11, 2003 03:35 PM

Perhaps this episode had something to do with it:
http://www.fda.gov/fdac/departs/1999/199_irs.html

Or maybe you'd like to read more about Odwalla's commitment to quality control (featuring "Freshology," Flash Pasteurization," "A.M. Sensory Panels," and "OZones"):
http://www.odwalla.com/freshology/howjuice.html

Which makes "organic evaporated cane juice" seem a little less Doof-ish and a little more Stay-out-of-court-ish.

Posted by: Chuck Clarke on August 11, 2003 04:35 PM

At least it doesn't say "beef digest".

Posted by: wetzel on August 11, 2003 04:37 PM

maybe some people have something against beet sugar.

Posted by: mrkmyr on August 11, 2003 05:21 PM

Ignoring the "organic" part, evaporated cane juice is still several steps away from being refined sugar. I believe "evaporated cane juice" is closer to brown sugar. (in other words, sugar and molasses)

And at least some segment of their customer-base probably cares deeply that it's both organic and totally vegan.

Personally, I liked it better when they used agave to sweeten the summertime lime quencher. Made it like a refreshing no-salt no-alcohol margarita in a bottle.

Posted by: Eric Eisenhart on August 11, 2003 05:22 PM

What's the old line about no one going broke underestimating the stupidity of the American consumer?

Reminds me of my Army days. Some MRE packets contained a powdered drink mix that one could reconstitute with water. Emblazoned on the packet in large black letters was "with ascorbic acid." Why they didn't call it "Vitamin C" like everyone else escapes me.

Posted by: James Joyner on August 11, 2003 06:44 PM

C6H12O6 is the simple rendering of a number of sugars, e.g. glucose and laevose, but it surely isn't what we ordinarily get out of sugar cane, which is sucrose.

This mockery is rather like what happened to A.P.Herbert when he mocked chemists for putting "dehydrated" instead of what he supposed was the simpler "dried"; he joked about dehydrating his socks, until someone told him what he would get if he tried that.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on August 11, 2003 08:09 PM

OK, OK, C12H22O11

Posted by: Brad DeLong on August 11, 2003 08:37 PM

Perosnally, I've always wondered about those "beef by-products" we keep hearing about.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 11, 2003 09:10 PM

And this is different from Rose's Lime Juice, how?

Posted by: Altoid on August 11, 2003 09:26 PM

Well, the topic seems to be "sugar" rather than "has California really captured the 'Doofus State' title", but I will go for the second one anyway.

Anybody who thinks that California holds the title of "Doofiest State" has probably been living in California too long to appreciate what they really have in their favor. Sure, it must be really annoying to watch somebody as annoying as Issa work so hard to piss away the state's bond rating, and it would be nice if the place had anything like a rational property tax system. And there are many other things that irked me in the seven years I lived in the place. But, try as I might, I could never drop it out of my mental list of the top five states I'd like to live, other things being equal. Seriously, try to make up such a list and see how incredibley hard it is to jam even a dozen states ahead of it, much less than 49. I think this is also true even if you (foolishly) restrict your attention to the political situation of the state. Sure, having a zillion ballot initiatives every year is dorky, and you can go on and on from there, but no matter how bad things get from time to time, I dare you to look into the void that is politics in most other states and maintain that you're in worse shape. Even where California screws up hugely, they end up in less deep trouble than other states.

So, gosh, California is about to have an election that will be a complete fiasco. Big deal; I live in a place where we elect dead people to the senate and in so doing give the rest of you all John Ashcroft to worry about. And that's really just tip-of-the-iceberg stuff. California will recover. I'm not so sure about Missouri, or many other places.

Posted by: Jonathan King on August 11, 2003 09:33 PM


I think you live in the Doofus State, but then, I grew up in Oregon, so I may be biased.

Q: How many Californians does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: 21-- 1 to actually change it, and 20 to "share the experience."

Q: How many Oregonians does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: 21-- 1 to actually change it, and 20 to chase off all the Californians coming up north to "share the experience."

Posted by: j brandt on August 11, 2003 10:11 PM

Evaporated cane juice isn't the same as CHCHCHwhateveritis until it has been refined. Presumably in this drink it hasn't.

I'd also note that there is a lot of difference between cane sugar and beet sugar.

Posted by: dsquared on August 11, 2003 11:02 PM

There's a huge difference between refined sugar and evaporated cane juice. Cane juice is a mix of a number of sugars (including sucrose), while what's in a bag of C&H white is nearly pure sucrose.

"Sugar" is sucrose. This is why it's "high fructose corn syrup" on the side of a can of soda, not "sugar." (HFCS is nasty stuff BTW, goes straight to your liver; some research coming out of public health is saying that HFCS really messes with your body's ability to manage sugar levels.) "Evaporated cane juice" is a SWEETENER that is made of an amalgam of sugars.

This is also why it's "ascorbic acid," not vitamin C -- you have to list what it IS on the label, not what it's known as. Learn your food labeling laws and their history, folks; there are good reasons for them, even if they seem a little obtuse.

Posted by: dw on August 11, 2003 11:47 PM

There's a huge difference between refined sugar and evaporated cane juice. Cane juice is a mix of a number of sugars (including sucrose), while what's in a bag of C&H white is nearly pure sucrose.

"Sugar" is sucrose. This is why it's "high fructose corn syrup" on the side of a can of soda, not "sugar." (HFCS is nasty stuff BTW, goes straight to your liver; some research coming out of public health is saying that HFCS really messes with your body's ability to manage sugar levels.) "Evaporated cane juice" is a SWEETENER that is made of an amalgam of sugars.

This is also why it's "ascorbic acid," not vitamin C -- you have to list what it IS on the label, not what it's known as. Learn your food labeling laws and their history, folks; there are good reasons for them, even if they seem a little obtuse.

Posted by: dw on August 11, 2003 11:48 PM

Doofus has a pleasant, non-threatening feel to it. A little absent minded perhaps. Of course, to the greedy and rapacious, a doofus might seem ripe for the plucking. To the boy cheerleader, the doofus is scorned for liking somebody else better. In the end, though, the innocent, friendly, nerdy doofus invents some really cool shit, gets the skater girl, the great weather, and the really critical patents.

Call us doofus. Call us the land of fruits and nuts. Call us the Golden State. We don't care what you call us. We know what we are. The most amazing place and people on the face of the earth. The place with more creativity, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer will to succeed than anywhere else. Come and enjoy our political show. Enjoy our hospitality and admire our ability to laugh at adversity and play games with our own political process. This is the people's state. The Great Doofus State of California.

Posted by: Dave Roberts on August 12, 2003 01:01 AM

"the hoi polloi?" Please be more cautious and careful.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on August 12, 2003 09:28 AM

Doofus, you cry:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/nyregion/12FRAN.html

"Al Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality," according to the complaint. "He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight."

Lawyers for Fox who filed the complaint also take issue with Mr. Franken's book cover because it "mimics the look and style" of two books written by Bill O'Reilly, a prominent Fox News personality. Mr. O'Reilly is also pictured on the cover, just beneath the word "Lies."

The court papers refer to Mr. Franken, who is a former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer, as a "parasite" who hopes to use Fox's reputation to confuse the public and boost sales of his book....

Posted by: jd on August 12, 2003 09:48 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the firs over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governon is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:35 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the firs over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governon is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:36 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the firs over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governon is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:37 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the first over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governor is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:39 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the first over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governor is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:39 AM

I'm not sure about the sugar business (very possibly cane syrup is different from refined sugar, and there might be very good reasons for preferring the first over the latter), but I do agree with Mr. DeLong on Californian politics. As long as the election of the governor is something like "Terminator IV", and as long as someone who announces "I will clean house" (in Sacramento) is leading the polls, how can anyone think Californians will be (or should be) taken seriously? (And don't tell me to shut up since us Austrians have exported Arnie to the US.)

Posted by: Gerhard Fritz on August 12, 2003 10:43 AM

I was going to weigh in on evaporated cane juice but I see dw has done the necessary 'splaining.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner on August 12, 2003 11:35 AM

Just be thankful that E.Coli isn't in your Odwalla product.

Sidenote: In a business plan competition I & some guys from UCSF entered (we had a lab-on-a-chip idea, so post-dot-com-biotech-boom), one of the founders from Odwalla was the judge.

We had a real hard time explaining the science to him; it was really frustrating. We were biting our tongues to keep from saying: "well, if you had this, you could screen consumer products against, say, infectious contaminants so that 4-year old kids didn't die from drinking your unpasteurized product...oh, sorry, did we upset you?". But we didn't.

I still buy their jucie, though.

Posted by: Tom on August 12, 2003 02:10 PM

Check out the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for this evil chemical, alpha-D-glucopyranosyl-beta-D-fructofuranoside:

http://www.hummelcroton.com/sugar_m.html

Posted by: Bob Hawkins on August 13, 2003 12:16 PM
Post a comment