American Beverage Association

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#DYK: Fast facts about Mardi Gras

All around the world today, people are taking part in the last day of Mardi Gras or Carnival as they prepare for the Christian observance of Lent. Here are a few quick facts about the celebration:

  • Home of the first: In America, Mardi Gras is most closely linked with New Orleans. However, few people know that Mobile, Ala., boasts the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States, started in 1703 by a pair of French brothers – a full 15 years before the founding of New Orleans.
  • That King Cake might lead to a chipped tooth: King Cake is a favorite treat during Mardi Gras – in fact, more than 500,000 cakes are sold in New Orleans every year. Each King Cake holds a small plastic baby. Finding the small trinket in your slice grants you luck and prosperity during the year. It also means you have to buy the King Cake next year!
  • Colorful pageantry: The traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple, green and gold – where chosen in 1893 with purple symbolizing justice, green for faith and gold for power.
  • Talk about #squadgoals: Mystic societies or krewes are an essential part of the celebration of Mardi Gras. These societies put on the various events during the Mardi Gras season and their members are the ones who parade through the streets on elaborate floats, throwing goodies to the revelers below.
  • Beads galore: Starting around the late 1800’s krewes began handing out brightly colored necklaces made of glass beads throughout their parade routes. The necklaces were a hit but did not become a staple in the parades until the glass beads were replaced by plastic.

So there you have it – go out and impress your friends and family with all of your Mardi Gras knowledge. And, as they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll!


Paving the Way for Environmental Stewardship

America’s leading beverage companies have long been leaders when it comes to protecting the planet and preserving natural resources. For years, they have been paving the way for best practices in sustainability around the globe.

“From packaging design to health, exercise and nutrition, these companies are making progress where governments are frequently setting unreachable targets or more despondently failing,” wrote Claire Phoenix in an article for FoodBev Media.

America’s beverage companies are constantly working to reduce water usage, increase fuel efficiency, conserve energy, and innovating to create the best recyclable packaging of its products. PepsiCo “is working on more next generation materials with bio-based bottles made from agricultural waste,” says Phoenix. And “Coca-Cola is aiming for all PET bottles to be bio-based by 2020.”

This is just the latest in the work the beverage industry has done to help protect our environment. In October, members of the beverage industry along with several other companies met at the White House to announce a phase-out of greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Once the phase-out is complete, 100 percent of company-controlled cooling equipment in stores and elsewhere will be HFC-free. When it comes to fleets, the industry now has the largest number of heavy duty hybrid electric commercial trucks on the road in North America. It’s also cutting the need for landfill space by recycling or reusing 94 percent of the waste produced at company-owned production facilities in the United States.

Innovation and a long-standing commitment to the environment are at the very core of the beverage industry. Phoenix praised the industry’s vital work in this area, saying, “A big thank you to all of the companies involved – Unilever, Arla, Danone, Coca-Cola, Friesland Campina, PepsiCo and Nestle – for their years of dedication doing all the laborious data collection and research into progressive ways to help save our people and planet.”

To learn more about how the beverage industry is raising the bar when it comes to environmental stewardship, visit InnovationNaturally.org.


Top 5 Reasons We’re Looking Forward to the Super Bowl

The much-anticipated Super Bowl 50 showdown between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos is just a couple days away. This year’s Super Bowl – also the game’s 50th anniversary – promises to be a spectacle with Lady Gaga kicking off the event by singing the national anthem. Here are five things we at Sip & Savor are looking forward to this Sunday.

The Pregame: The game will kick off at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., at 6:35 pm EST. So, fans will have lots of time to burn before the game gets started. Some of our favorites are the 12th Annual Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet at 3 pm EST and the 3rd Annual Kitten Bowl on the Hallmark Channel at 12 pm EST.

The Quarterback Showdown: Why are people calling this Super Bowl a must-see game? The quarterbacks. On the Broncos’ side of the ball, this is rumored to be Peyton Manning, aka “The Sheriff’s,” final game. Manning is 39 and is the oldest quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, in his first Super Bowl, is 26. Newton, aka “Superman,” has been the star of this football season.

The Commercials: How can you talk about the Super Bowl without mentioning the commercials? Whether they are a football fan or not, many tune in just to watch the commercials. Here are some ads that are already gaining some attention.

The Halftime Show: Coldplay will take center stage during this year’s halftime show. An estimated 100 million people are expected to tune in. There are wild speculations about who will be the special guest performers. Rumors range from Beyoncé to Bruno Mars to Rihanna.

The Food: What is a Super Bowl without party food? Over the last 49 Super Bowls, serving creative party snacks has become a competitive sport itself. Here are some interesting recipes we found for chicken wings, short ribs and meatballs.


Negative Dietary Advice is Leading Americans Down the Wrong Path

A team of researchers out of Arizona State University recently found the idea that “people do the opposite of what they are told” applies to the current state of nutritional advice in the United States.

The study, conducted by Nguyen Pham, Dr. Naomi Mandel and Dr. Andrea Morales examined eating habits of individuals after receiving positive or negative messages about food placed in front of them. Their results suggest that people ignore negative “food police”-style messages.

Pham believes that people disregard nutritional advice telling them to eliminate something from their diet because, “people value their freedom of choice, and they resent government intervention that restricts that freedom.”

Unlike countries such as Canada, Japan and Germany that encourage people to enjoy all foods in moderation, dietary advice in the United States is focused on providing a strict blueprint that is difficult and stressful for most people to follow.

If we want to see obesity rates decline, it is time for the government and policymakers to change their tone when it comes to food and nutrition.

The recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are a positive development when it comes to nutrition advice.

For example, the guidelines advise Americans to, “account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess how they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.”

The beverage industry is doing our part to help people achieve balance by offering a large variety of options that can fit the individual tastes and needs of everyone. And through our Balance Calories Initiative aimed at helping Americans reduce their beverage calories, we are encouraging consumers to consider their calories from beverages as part of their total diet.

Visit DeliveringChoices.org to learn more about the options available and how the industry is helping consumers find their balance.


Davis, Calif., Stands with Small Businesses and Consumers

Last night the Davis, Calif., city council stood with local small businesses and consumers and voted down a proposal which could have led to taxes on common beverages.

“When these kinds of proposals are put together, it’s always the small consumers and small businesses that get hurt first,” Suresh Kumar, owner of Olive Drive Market in Davis, told The Sacramento Bee. “If you see what they’ve done in Berkeley, I have not heard anything positive about the tax that’s been imposed.”

Not only do beverage taxes burden small businesses and consumers with higher prices, they do nothing to improve public health. Take, for example, a tax in Mexico. Studies show that the tax has had no measurable effect on obesity rates or body mass index as proponents claimed it would. In fact, a study by Mexico’s National Soft Drinks Association has found that the higher prices caused by the tax led to a mere 6.2 fewer calories per capita for the average 3,024 calorie diet. In the meantime, the majority of the tax was paid by Mexico’s poorest families and it was a factor in the closure of more than 30,000 mom and pop stores.

Industry and government need to work together to help people achieve balance in their lives, and beverage companies are doing their part. We put clear calorie information on the front of our products and are doing the same with 3 million company–controlled vending machines, coolers and fountains. Through our Balance Calories Initiative we have set a goal to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. We cut beverage calories delivered to schools by more than 90 percent and we are offering consumers more lower- and no-calorie options and smaller portion sizes than ever.

To learn more about how the beverage industry is offering real solutions, visit http://deliveringchoices.org/.


Happy Groundhog Day!

Today, a crowd gathered at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to hear the Groundhog Club emcee announce that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning, meaning an early spring this year.

Have you ever wondered why Americans tune in every Feb. 2 to find out if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow? Believe it or not, the famous groundhog has been our nation’s winter weather forecaster for 130 years. The tradition originated from the Christian tradition of Candlemas Day during which clergy would bless and distribute candles for the winter to represent how long the winter would be. The Germans came up with a new twist on this tradition and began using a hedgehog as a means of predicting the weather. This tradition traveled with the German settlers to Pennsylvania, where they switched from using hedgehogs to groundhogs.

So how did Phil the groundhog become the preeminent rodent weather forecaster?

In 1887, a newspaper editor from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared Phil as America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. And the line of groundhogs from Punxsutawney has been known as Phil ever since.

Some may question the accuracy of Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts, but we at Sip & Savor hope his prediction of an early spring is correct!


Gardening, Nutrition and Fitness for the Youth of Columbia, S.C.

In January, the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America announced Columbia, S.C. as the runner-up in the medium city category of the 2016 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards. Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin won the award for his program “Project GNF” (Gardening, Nutrition & Fitness) and will receive a $25,000 grant to support its implementation.

“Project GNF” is an expansion of Mayor Benjamin’s “Youth Sports Initiative,” incorporating gardening, nutrition and fitness lessons into the existing program. The “GNF Clubs” will be introduced at certain recreation centers in the city of Columbia where significant health and economic disparities have been identified. The program also includes a local university partnership to teach kids the science behind growing fruits and vegetables. The goal is to help children form life-long habits in the context of fun learning.

“It is imperative that we provide our children with every resource, every opportunity to be successful,” said Mayor Benjamin. “The fact of the matter is that our children simply cannot be successful if they are not healthy. I am extremely proud of the recognition from the American Beverage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in awarding our Department of Parks & Recreation a Childhood Obesity Prevention Award for Project GNF program.”

To learn more about Columbia’s “Project GNF” and the other Childhood Obesity Prevention Award recipients, click here.

 


Uncovering the Real Cost of Beverage Taxes

As the California State Assembly gets ready to kick into high gear, one Assemblyman is pledging to stand firm against new, burdensome taxes that would stifle economic growth in the state.

“At the end of last year, some in Sacramento tried to force through new taxes on everything from beverages to gasoline as a way to fund pet projects,” wrote Assemblyman Matthew Harper in a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed. “Instead of asking for more money from working Californians, we should focus on planning for future financial stability by paying down our debts and saving in the rainy day fund.”

It seems every time government faces a budget problem, its first reaction is more taxes. It’s encouraging to see an elected official recognize that the government needs to trim its budget fat instead of taxing things like beverages and increasing people’s grocery bills.

Harper also highlights the effect of taxes on the state’s job creators, saying “Our state government has a habit of choking small business with costly and burdensome regulations.”

Consider that California’s beverage industry has a direct economic impact of $17.1 billion, paying $2.5 billion in wages to California workers with beverage production and distribution jobs. Additionally, more than 87,500 workers in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters and more depend, in part, on beverage sales for their livelihoods.

Politicians may mistakenly think that taxes on beverages are an easy way to generate revenue, but they must recognize who will really pay the price – California workers, businesses, consumers and ultimately, the broader economy.

To find out more about how taxes harm local businesses and consumers, check out The Truth About Beverage Taxes.


Encouraging a “Healthy Me” in Everett, Mass.

Last week the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America selected Everett, Mass., Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. as the first place winner in the small city category of the 2016 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards. Mayor DeMaria won the award for his innovative “Healthy Me” program.

The “Healthy Me” program is a multi-pronged initiative targeting Everett children and teenagers aged 8-14. In partnership with Malden YMCA’s Youth Enrichment Center, the city will expand existing programming that teaches balanced eating and drinking habits and physical activity. These activities will directly reach more than 500 students and will indirectly impact thousands of their peers, siblings and parents.

Debbie Amaral, CEO of Malden YMCA, praised the grant saying, “We know that there is not one problem we can take on solely by ourselves…To have a partner like the city of Everett, the community Health & Wellness center and now this grant, it truly shows the power of collaboration and what we can do when everyone works together.”

To learn more about Everett’s “Healthy Me” program and the other Childhood Obesity Prevention Award recipients, click here.


Fit NOLA

The United States Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America recently announced the winners of the 2016 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards, which are given to mayors across the nation who have created innovative programs to combat obesity in their communities. New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu was awarded first place in the large city division for his “Fit NOLA” program.

“Fit NOLA” is aimed at reducing obesity and promoting balanced lifestyles among New Orleans’ residents with the ultimate goal of making New Orleans one of America’s top ten fittest cities by 2018. The “Fit NOLA” school component brings physical activity and access to nutritious foods into New Orleans’ public schools. This, in turn, helps students to get excited about school and stay focused in the classroom.

“Cities are where things are happening and where things are getting done,” said Mayor Landrieu. “I want to thank the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for recognizing the work that we’ve done.”

New Orleans will share $445,000 in grants with five other cities of varying sizes to support and enhance programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.

Programs like “Fit NOLA” demonstrate that successful public-private partnerships can bring about real and lasting change for the better in our communities. Check out USMayors.org to watch a video about Mayor Landrieu’s program and the five other winners of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.