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Thursday, January 12, 2012

THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA

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I find as I grow older I tend to gravitate towards simpler things. Take coffee for instance, I've always found pleasure in a simple cup of black coffee. I honestly believe I can distinguish a good cup of coffee from a bad one simply by drinking it black. Adding sugar, cream, and any other additive only masks the flavor. Then again, the bitter taste of the coffee bean is what a lot of people try to avoid, preferring instead a variety of sweeteners transforming it into more of a ice cream sundae as opposed to a hot cup of coffee in the traditional sense. Now coffee comes in a myriad of flavors including vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and peppermint. Its whipped with cream, sprinkled with chocolate, and chilled with ice. Perhaps the best way to describe coffee's transformation is from the "the rocket fuel of business" to Bosco.

Coffee is not alone in this regard. I recently visited a local liquor store to buy libations for the holidays. I don't normally drink vodka but I was surprised by the variety of flavors now available including lemon, lime, apple, marmalade, raspberry, apple strudel, and dozens of other flavors (What, no kumquat?). I also noticed various liqueurs now come in an assortment of flavors as opposed to just one, especially the coffee flavored ones. I took most of this in stride as I typically don't imbibe such drinks. However, as a whiskey aficionado, I was stunned to see apple and cinnamon flavored whiskeys creeping onto the shelves. Only then did I realize whiskey was also beginning to undergo a sweetness transformation.

I suppose this movement to sweeter alcoholic beverages was to be expected as the kids who savored sweetened fruit drinks and power ades years ago have grown up and cannot tolerate some of the bitter flavors of adult beverages. Nor will this be a passing fancy as young Americans have been conditioned to crave soft and sweetened drinks. Take iced tea for instance, whereas older people tend to enjoy unsweetened tea, younger people cannot palate it without some sort of sugary substance. Also consider Americans fascination with sweetened coffee drinks is directly rooted in chocolate. It kind of makes you wonder if we are really enjoying the flavor of such drinks or are we simply hooked on chocolate and sugar. I suspect the latter.

As for me, I'm a single malt scotch man who appreciates the simplicity of a good glass of whiskey, particularly when coupled with a fine cigar. I do not need to sweeten it up, just quietly sip and enjoy it at the end of a busy day. I enjoy its full bodied flavor with a touch of smokiness from its casks. Like I've always said, it's the little things in life that make it enjoyable, such as a black cup of coffee, unsweetened iced tea, and a glass of single malt scotch. The day I am given a glass of tutti frutti whiskey is probably the same day I'll stop drinking it.

I do not need to put in additives to enjoy such beverages, just simply to appreciate them for what they are and how our forefathers designed them. Like I said, keep it simple and enjoy the ride.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.