5 Ways to Tell You Are in America Just by Looking at the Cup

If we are what we eat, then countries are what their people are eating. Some will imagine America as a gigantic fatty double cheeseburger but let me tell you right away, I’ve seen some much worse burgers than what the world knows from McDonalds. Let’s say Checkers one, dripping with mayo... but no, that’s not what I’m writing about.

I will put my story in a cup. A Plastic cup. Even better if it’s disposable. Huge size. Although small would do too for most Europeans or Asians.

So how could you tell with no mistake that you are in America (or American chain restaurant) even if you are blindfolded, just by holding a cup?

1. Big, Big, Bigger

In America, there are few sizes but nothing is small. Some portions may be called small, medium and large, but for those not born in America, they will be big, bigger and twice that size.

Sometimes cups are named large, extra large and extra extra large. They say that condoms should be sold in jumbo sizes only. I mean, labels should state only something around XL hoping that once the man buys it, he will grow bigger. Together with his ego. And if you’ve ever seen a condom, you probably have an idea that it can get to balloon size. Although, I’ve heard a girl saying that they are all small for her boyfriend. The guy was obviously finding a poor excuse to practice sex in an unsafe way. At the same time he informed her that he’s well hung. And she swallowed it! Don’t know if she’s done it literally.

But that’s not the topic. It’s just that my mind slips back to sex all the time. Maybe it’s lack of sex. I must be writing too much. And then when I get to do it, I start thinking right away about new things to write. Sometimes I think I have sex out of my poetic drive. But let’s get back to drinks. No protein shakes. And no alcohol. I know nothing about alcohol. Honest. Just soft drinks.

2. Cold, Cold, Colder

take-home cup of ice coffee on wooden table

The lady next to me was furious almost as if the flight had been canceled just because the steward on Alitalia flight missed putting some ice in her cup. It was clear to me that she’s American. I’m more American than European but my Italian is fluent so I could flirt with steward and explain a thing or two about American way of drinking.

If you say no ice, in America, that means some ice. If you just order your drink, it goes without saying that your cup comes full of ice. It’s actually lots of ice with some liquid. I’ve tried ice tea once, but it’s meant to be filled with ice almost like making syrup that you need to dilute with water. My heart started beating faster from caffeine after my first (and last) sip.

With Coke, it’s not much better. Without ice, it’s syrupy sweet. I have a sweet tooth, but even for me, it is sickening.

Water is my thing in America. I like my water cold. I just don’t get it why ice cold water has to be filled with ice! One sip and I’m done drinking. And no, it’s not about saving and world crisis, it’s not that there’s some extra ice added so you get less of your drink. No, you may find that in some other countries. In America, drinks are not considered tasty unless they are icy.

3. Sweet, Sweet, Sweeter

Sugar, corn syrup or sugar substitute? Anything you want. It makes no difference. It always tastes sweet. Ok, there are diabetics, and they want substitutes that taste sweeter than sugar. There are scientists that dread sugar and those that warn of cancer provoking substances in some artificial sweeteners. Then there are some natural and healthy ways to sweeten your drink like plant stevia. And freshly squeezed juices are naturally sugar rich, but that’s still not enough. Not in America.

4. Real, Fake, and Augmented Reality

Big pile of freshly made fruit salads and squeezed juices

There’s a big, actually huge, disposable cup in front of you. There is ice inside, there’s some fruit. Lots of squeezed fruit. And sugar of course (unless you ask for a sweetener). In America you can have a banana in your frappe. It’s not just a mixture of ice, water and artificial flavors. But some banana syrup will be added. Guess why… bananas don’t feel like bananas enough! Don’t you know that? You need to add some fake ingredients to make something taste more real. It’s more real than the real thing! It’s like augmented reality! Vegas style!

5. More, More, More

Coffees too come with 1200 calories portion. How’s that possible? Just follow the recipe… some coffee, super sweet creamer, sugar, more sugar, milk. You can add banana too. And some syrup. Yes, you can get all that fat free or sugar free. At times, even 0 calories can be as tasty as 1001. Like magic. Pure alchemy. I mean, perfectly well balanced ingredients of different numbered ’E’s. Don’t worry, just few are extremely dangerous ones. And of course, it won’t be any harm if you get a bit.

Oops, I forgot, drinks are not coming in small Italian espresso cups. Americans like it large. Americans like it plentiful. Americans like more, more, more. That’s why restaurants and fast food chains always have free refills of soft drinks ready. Your cup will never be empty. It won’t even come to half and it will get full again, just to make sure you won’t see your cup half empty. I just don’t get how some people still pay for a large cup when you are free to refill as many times as you want the small cup. I guess some are lazy to get up too often (fast foods are self-service most of the time), and some just like oversized cups.

We, Americans and Americanized people, seem to be addicted to massive, cold, sweet, and fake. And it’s addiction that makes us crave for more of it.

Pardon me all of you that go against the stream. You’re probably addicted too. It’s just that you are supposedly healthy lifestyle junkies. And if you want things healthy, you better read your ingredients carefully. Especially all that is written with tiny little letters. Sometimes it is the little things that count the most.

About the author


Writer, talker, walker, joker. Contradictory, capricious, postmodern fragmented, direct, too direct sometimes, playful, holding no grudges and regrets. If you can't find her, she's somewhere chasing summer around the world.

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