Blogs > Laura Kessel's blog

Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

They’ll be no stopping the power of the list

There’s a list for everything.

I have one for the grocery store. There’s already one for the Christmas shopping. There’s even one for the things I want to accomplish before I turn 50.

The ones I make before a trip, though, are the most exhaustive.

I write down what clothes I need to pack. I make a list of my toiletries. I even write down the accessories, such as phone chargers, that I must remember to toss in my bag.

Occasionally, I realize that if I forget something, I can always head to the drug store or mall to pick it up. But then I shake that off and make sure I remembered to jot down “magazine” and “chewing gum.”

I take a trip every January that gets the list treatment. I head to New York City for a board meeting for a journalism group, and at the same time, for a few days get to pretend I’m one of those cool chicks you see in TV shows.

They walk everywhere, but never get their shoes dirty. They manage to look put-together even though they’re sweating or, if it’s in winter, freezing half to death.

I wish it were practical to add “coffee pot” to my list.

You see, the hotel I stay in when I’m in New York doesn’t have a coffee pot. Even though most hotels only offer single-cup or four-cup brewers, it’s usually enough to tide me over until I can get out to get my jumbo cup that will take me through half of the morning.

But no dice at The New Yorker, a hotel that’s about a block from Madison Square Garden and two blocks from Macy’s in Herald Square (yes, it’s THAT Macy’s!). It still has the old bones of a vintage hotel, but the comfort you get from a high-end place.

Except the coffee pot.

However, when I look out the window of my room at the hotel, depending on the side of the building where I’m staying, I see a Dunkin’ Donuts on the street below. There’s one on West 34th Street and another on Eighth Avenue. They’re both less than a block from the front door of the hotel.

But to get my extra large half-caff or decaf coffee, I have to get dressed and go for a walk.

To me, it’s worth the walk.

One I might not be taking, though, is the one after my day’s meetings are over, to one of the nearby fast-food places for a soda that will give me a caffeine jolt before the group heads off to dinner.

And, that’s because I’m not sure I’ll be able to buy one large enough to give me that jolt.

You see, this week in New York City, a new law went into effect that bars the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.

It really shouldn’t affect me, though, because I always order diet soda. But who knows if they’ll be carrying any beverages in the larger sizes.

As you can imagine, the law didn’t come without a big fight.

First were the arguments about freedom of choice.

Next were the arguments about endangering the restaurant owners’ profits.

But the biggest argument of all was made by the New York City Board of Health and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who cited the caloric intake of such beverages on the health of the city’s residents.

According to, a 16-ounce Coke has 191.7 calories. A 44-ounce Coke, such as those sold at 7-11 as a Big Gulp, have 522 calories.

When you move to Diet Coke, the calories obviously drop. A 16-ounce Diet Coke has 2 calories. A 44-ouncer has 5.5.

According to, a 12-ounce bottle of sweetened tea has 129 to 143 calories. A 12-ounce sports drink has 94.

New York’s new limits cover fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores and food carts. In the coverage I’ve read, it doesn’t appear sit-down restaurants are included in the ban. Neither are grocery stores. Because beverages that are more than 60 percent milk are not part of the ban, neither are milk shakes.

So it’s easy to see the problems with the law. I can be served beverage after beverage by a waiter and no one will question it, but if I want 17 ounces of Coke, I have to buy two beverages, in two separate transactions. That seems silly.

But what they’re aiming to achieve is easy to see.

I’m hopeful it will work as New York City sees it — another step toward controlling the calories Americans are consuming that are making us an increasingly obese nation.

If not, maybe the next step will do the trick. Remember when I said there was a list for everything? Next year, restaurants with more than 20 locations will be required to list calorie counts on menus. The rule is part of the health-care bill upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer. The feds haven’t worked out the logistics yet, but, rest assured, it’s coming. Everywhere.

You can see it already in some places, such as Panera. I’m happy that the soups I enjoy there are in the 120- to 160-calorie range.

But I have a feeling that when the counts do start showing up, most of us will do some serious curtailing to what we’re ingesting.

It’s the power of the list.
Twitter: @Lauranh


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home