Ann Cannon: I’m a Pepper for life, please don’t judge

First Published      Last Updated Jan 02 2017 02:36 pm

Here's something I know a lot about: soda-shaming, which is something people do to you when they discover you like soda.

Why am I such an expert on the subject? Because, as I have noted here before, I am a hardcore soda drinker. Specifically, I drink Dr Pepper. Not diet. Regular. And I like my Dr Pepper straight from a single can. A really COLD single can, which (as it turns out) is a hard thing to find. Marketers are all about the single plastic bottles these days, which I refuse to buy, because you can never get a plastic bottle cold enough.

Connoisseurs like me are picky about these things, don't you know.

Fortunately, I have a special little built-in brain radar that automatically leads me to the few places left in town where I can still buy a single can when I'm in the mood. My favorite is the soda machine in The Rose Laundry on 300 South and 900 East in Salt Lake. This machine is genius. It keeps things at exactly at the right temperature and only charges me 75 cents a can.

Thanks for that, Rose Laundry Soda Machine!

(Incidentally, if you'd like a complete list of where you can buy single cold cans, let me know. You're welcome!)

Things were not always thus when it came to soda consumption. Back in America's reckless days when I was growing up, parents didn't buckle you in or put helmets on your head or tell you to stay away from the tricky bars on the school playground. No. They just put you outside with the family dog to play all day long.

They also didn't stress out about what they fed you. Because many of my generation's parents were children of the Great Depression, they were just grateful they COULD feed you. So if you wanted a soda — or "pop" as we locals down in Utah County called it — the parents were all, "Sure! It's not the Great Depression anymore, so why not!"

And then one day a memo started circulating that said soda was bad for you. It rotted your teeth and shredded your kidneys and made you fat and broke your bones when you were an old person and also gave you Alzheimer's if you drank it out of a cold can, which, of course, is the only true way to drink it. This meant that the parents who used to knock back sodas with you in the kitchen (I'm looking at YOU, Mom!) suddenly got some responsibility and started telling you to stop drinking your Dr Peppers.

But it was too late for me. Alas.

Over the years I've responded to soda-shaming in a variety of ways. Sometimes I'd feel guilty and berate myself for being so weak. Sometimes I'd feel defiant and drink more soda than I actually wanted to. But mostly I've just resigned myself to dying at a young age without any teeth.

Until last week.

Wonder of wonders, when I went to my Facebook page, I discovered that friends had shared with me the story of Elizabeth Sullivan from Fort Worth, Texas, who just turned 104 years old. Her secret to a long life? Three cans of Dr Pepper a day.

Did you hear that?

Three. Cans. Of. Dr. Pepper. A. Day.

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth has endured a fair amount of soda-shaming herself. "Every doctor that sees me says [the Dr Peppers will] kill you, but they die and I don't. So there must be a mistake somewhere."

I totally agree with her. Because I want to. Yay for magical thinking!

And now the only question remaining is this: Do I actually want to be 104 years old? Please advise some more, Elizabeth.

And happy birthday.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.