In New York, why do I always get a straw when I buy a soda?
August 4, 2004 11:13 AM   Subscribe

After living in New York for 5 years, I'm finally moved to ask this question: Why, when I buy a can or bottle of soda, do I invariably get a straw with it? [bubbles inside]

My confusion lies in the fact that whenever I try to use the straw, the carbonation invariably goes nuts, so I end up with a mouthful of foam.

Is this the desired experience? Am I missing a technique taught early to native New Yorkers?
posted by o2b to Food & Drink (28 answers total)
 
Because you never know when your friendly neighbourhood rat walked on top of the can at your neighbourhood deli. You use a straw so that you don't suck up the dirt from the can top.
posted by riffola at 11:31 AM on August 4, 2004


You're supposed to suck the straw, not blow into it. They offer them in Toronto as well.
posted by dobbs at 11:32 AM on August 4, 2004


I love you, dobbs.

I'm not sure what you're saying, o2b -- this isn't a regular practice where I live (out in the suburbs), but I don't see how drinking soda through a straw is problematic. Don't you get a straw when you get soda from a fountain?
posted by rafter at 11:53 AM on August 4, 2004


Perhaps you're creating some vacuum with your tongue depressing over the top of the straw that creates a situation in which carbonation is formed? I don't know what you're doing but here's what I do:

Hold the straw in your mouth but do not cover the top, it shouldn't be difficult. Then suck up and when you're done just release the straw, don't worry about splashback or anything.

This is not to be condescending but I had a friend with a similar weird problem and when I went step by step with him how to do it, he realized what he was doing wrong. I'm sure that if you're creating some kind of pressure differiation that does not need to be created.

On a second note, I highly doubt illness causing germs can be transmitted via aluminum. I would suppose that if a rat were to defecate on the can it would be a problem, but it would be easily noticeable. Also for the time a rat would be on a can, would be quick. A stack of alumnium cans in the open isn't exactly a place where a rat would want to camp out, they'd at most scurry quickly over the top, more likely not touching the inner rim you'd put your mouth on. Worst case scenerio, a very sick rat with a laceration of some sort scurries across the cans (sick rats would do something as stupid as scurrying across cans in the middle of an open area in the middle of a place with high foot traffic... a resteraunt store room). The rat say jumped down from the rafters landed on the cans, it's leg which happens to have an open sore on it rubs against the inner rim where your lips touch as he quickly jumps off the cans and runs into a corner. Then within several minutes a busboy goes into the backroom, just so happens to pick the can the rat jumped on and gives it to you. You might notice some goo on the rim from the puss and blood but it seems so insignificant you brush it off. Now assuming you brush it off (or don't) and there's still trace amounts of the baceteria, virus... and this illness causing pathogen also happens to affect humans -- then yes you might get sick.

Me? As long as the can doesn't look like a couple of diseased rats were humping on it, I'll drink it! It's probably more dangerous germ-wise to open the door to the resteraunt then drink out of a can.
posted by geoff. at 12:09 PM on August 4, 2004


What's inside the can is likely worse for you than rat feces would be anyway.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:14 PM on August 4, 2004


That's great, geoff. And Space Coyote, I'll take the rat feces Pepsi challenge with you any day. As long as the feces doesn't smell bad.

I've seen some pretty nasty-looking can tops in New York, compared with other places. I don't know why this is, but it's not something I like putting my lips on, even if it won't make me sick. It took a while to get used to, but now I'm glad they hand out straws.

Same with canned foods. I always wash the top off before opening them.
posted by swift at 12:16 PM on August 4, 2004


But who knows where the straw has been!!
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:31 PM on August 4, 2004


Well, that's why they leave that little flag of paper, to show you the straw was just removed from its container, and to cover the part where your lips will be.
posted by swift at 12:38 PM on August 4, 2004


Doesn't the little metal tab get pushed down into the soda when you open it? So you wouldn't be protected from any top-of-can nastiness anyway.
posted by transient at 1:01 PM on August 4, 2004


Metafilter.com: I'll take the rat feces Pepsi challenge with you any day.
posted by Vidiot at 1:26 PM on August 4, 2004


Wouldn't the whole top-of-the-can potential nastiness go away if the cans were always upside down in transit and storage?
posted by yesster at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2004


My friend from NJ/NYC is still shocked that nobody offers her a straw with a can of soft drink here in Seattle. I don;t think she has considered the idea of drinking from a can without a straw before.

Damn straw-sucking natural resource wasting east-coasters.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 1:38 PM on August 4, 2004


funny straw story: When they converted from paper to plastic straws, they ran into all sorts of problems with them floating up and out of the drinks. Turns out the paper straws weren't as bouyant for an equivalent size, thickness, and bore as were the plastic ones (either the paper absorbed some of the liquid, and thus became heavier, or the CO2 bubbles stuck more readily to the plastic, making it more bouyant, I don't recally which) This led to a redesign, increasing plastic straw weight.

OK, so maybe it isn't funny.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2004


Wouldn't the whole top-of-the-can potential nastiness go away if the cans were always upside down in transit and storage?

Are you crazy? Think about it: a bunch of soda cans sitting upside-down in the bottom of a nasty-ass cooler filled with nasty-ass ice and other nasty-ass stuff that happens to fall in. You take the cans on top first, which means those cans at the bottom are going to be sitting in all that ass-juice for hours before they're sold.

Now, you tellin' me you wanna pucker up and suck on one of those? I. Don't. Think. So.

But I have to agree with the original poster -- the fizzy created with straw-action is irritating as hell. The price you pay for avoiding rare diseases.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:09 PM on August 4, 2004


I always thought it was so that the cola wouldn't discolor your teeth. I am sure some starlet or trust-fund kid from Upper East went berserk about her pearly whites being damaged by cola. But the rat poo makes sense too.
posted by plemeljr at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2004


perhaps I gave a false impresson -- I know how to use a straw :P

for the curious, here is my detailed experience:
1. 20oz bottle of cold Diet Coke.

2. Straw.

3. Insert straw.

4. Problem number one -- immediately the straw collects bubbles and wants to float (thanks leotrotsky, I forgot to mention that).

5. Place straw in mouth, suck gently -- ensuring that the bottle's hole is not improperly covered.

6. Problem number two -- the soda in the straw fizzes like crazy, resulting in a mouth full of foam.
I notice this latter problem sans straw sometimes, when I've just had a candy bar or something, and my mouth is already sugary -- inserting soda (sugared or non) into my mouth produces the same foaming action (and, no, I haven't just had a candy bar). [Note it may not be sugar that creates this, it's just the only assocaition I've made so far.]

some people fix problem number one by folding the straw into the bottle, but digging into the bottle to get it back doesn't appeal to me.

and i realize fountain soda always comes with straws, but the formulas are different, which is what I attribute the difference to.

The rat offerings is a very good reason, I hadn't thought of it. I always wipe.
posted by o2b at 2:27 PM on August 4, 2004


Yeah it's really not the issue of not getting the plauge, it's the issue of not putting lip directly to crud on top of the can. Personally I just drink the soda and assume that it hasn't killed me after 28 years and so...

My lady friend she can't imagine not drinking with a straw, and says "but look at the filthy can" to which I usually do, shudder and drink without the straw. They don't ever give straws with beers by the way, although certain old school newyorkers do drink beer in the paperbag with a straw, which is fresh.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:33 PM on August 4, 2004


Apparently, in some countries, the cans/bottles are worth so much that the stores poor booze into a plastic bag and keep the package. The customer gets a plastic bag full of booze (like a deli bag) with a straw poking out. That's fresh.
posted by jeb at 2:42 PM on August 4, 2004


I always thought this was really silly. I grew up in MN, where we drank out of cans. Then one day I noticed how filthy the cans are here in NYNY. I don't drink out of straws, but I will usually wipe off the can or bottle before I start guzzling.
posted by subgenius at 5:05 PM on August 4, 2004


Could it be that the stuff in the straw fizzes because of the vacuum-like sucking action you're doing? Reduced pressure in the straw would make the dissolved CO2 come out of solution and make with the fizzy if the pressure change was high enough.

If this is the case, the solution (pun noted) would be to suck as gently as possible and to keep the straw as deep/low in the bottle as possible to minimize the suction required to raise the sugary, industrialized nectar to your mouth.

I don't know if this will actually work -- I've never had these straw problems, but I only use straws for fountain drinks, which may be flatter. Why do you need straws in a bottle? Cans I understand, but bottles have that big sterilized cap covering the intimate areas.
posted by cardboard at 6:47 PM on August 4, 2004


Why are cans so filthy in New York?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:40 PM on August 4, 2004


Crazy thought: One could always use a glass.
posted by rushmc at 9:44 PM on August 4, 2004


My friend from NJ/NYC is still shocked that nobody offers her a straw with a can of soft drink here in Seattle. I don;t think she has considered the idea of drinking from a can without a straw before.

Good heavens. Before this thread I had never considered the idea of drinking from a can *with* a straw. It seems so... excessive.

Why are cans so filthy in New York?

Everything is filthy in New York.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:07 PM on August 4, 2004


New Yorkers are softies. In London we drink straight from the can, no matter what..
posted by ascullion at 11:10 PM on August 4, 2004


Crazy thought: One could always use a glass.

And two ice cubes--always have to have two ice cubes and maybe some fresh vanilla if you're drinking regular cola.
posted by The God Complex at 1:12 AM on August 5, 2004


Snopes have a page on the whole rat urine/can thing here, as it is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the subject of a constantly-forwarded email.
posted by urban greeting at 1:40 AM on August 5, 2004


Isn't this like Mother's Day and toilet paper? Just something made up to drive the economy.

Well, maybe not toilet paper . . .
posted by geekyguy at 5:34 AM on August 5, 2004


male rats often pee continuously as they walk to mark territory.

buy bottles!
posted by rhyax at 11:04 AM on August 5, 2004


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