All the Soda Pop You Can Drink - But Don't Tell Anyone

I spent a lot of time on airplanes in the last few weeks, and so I spent a lot of time reading in-flight magazines. Southwest's Spirit is not so bad. In the pages of the September edition I learned about Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, dedicated to preserving all the unique and tasty soda pops of the world.

John Nese decided in 1995 to devote part of his small Los Angeles grocery store to the fizzy concoctions. Disturbed by the idea that Coke and Pepsi would forever wipe out his beloved rare sodas, Nese started stocking the goods. Along the way, he contacted small soda makers, including many manufacturers who had stopped producing their drinks altogether. If someone remembered the recipe, Nese would track him down and take the formula to an independent bottler.

The result is Galco's. Every conceivable type of cola--and root beer and egg cream and ginger ale--lines the aisles.

Take that, soda pop conglomerates! If you can't get to Los Angeles, you can visit Galco's on the web, here. I am so thinking of buying that Plantation Style Mint Julep, and maybe a Jeff's New York Coffee Egg Cream Soda.

Also in that issue of Spirit was a truly scary article about Claritas, the company that specializes in segmenting America. What are market segments?

Think of MyBestSegments as a "photo album" of consumer markets. Each of the Claritas market segments has its own pages that display "snapshots" of the segment's demographic traits, lifestyle preferences and consumer behaviors.

Follow the link above, plug in your zip code, and see how Claritas segments YOUR neighborhood. There are 66 segments that slice up American life, according to the marketing needs of corporate America. So, what are you? Kids and Cul-de-sacs? Beltway Boomer? God's Country? Big Sky Family? Shotguns and Pickups? I'm not making these names up.

By the way, I believe the folks in development at universities (that's fundraising to you and me) rely on market segmentation data as well in their work.

And you thought those Super Shopper cards were just all about the discount at the grocery store. Nope, they're keeping track of everything we buy, and where we buy it. Not only that, where we're from - notice how in some stores, they claim they can't process your purchase at the register until you give them your zip code? Why do they need your zip code? So the marketers can know where the folks live who are buying cans of paint at Home Depot.

So I say, refuse to give them your zip code. Or, make up a fake one just to throw them off. I haven't yet decided what to do about those grocery store cards. Dammit, things ARE cheaper when you use them, and that's how they snag you. If I were rich enough to not care about the card discount, of course, I wouldn't be doing my own grocery shopping.

I'll end my rant with a complaint about those credit card commercials currently airing that try to make you feel like pond scum if you dare to pay with cash. Supposedly you are derailing the smooth functioning of the entire nation's economy by pulling out your legal tender. They are trying to shame us into using credit cards for every stinking transaction, not just for what they make on the transaction, or for the fees they earn on our ever burgeoning balances, but so they can keep track of what we buy.

It drives me nuts. Pay with cash whenever you can!

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Trader Joe's.

If you've got them in your area, they're great grocery stores, with none of that silly loyalty card stuff.

Huell Howser on PBS did a show on Galco's. The soft drinks there are made with actual sucrose rather than high-fructose corn syrup, and fans say the real sugar makes the taste 'pop', really bringing out the flavorings rather than masking them.

I did once get ginger beer made without HFCS, using pineapple syrup and other fruit syrups. A big swig of that stuff would make your scalp sweat. (It either stopped getting made or local stores stopped carrying it.)

You can swap grocery cards with your colleagues to get the real check-out-counter benefits whilst throwing a spanner in their database, although the wreckage will be small since, according to Claritas, You Are Where You Live: your friends' affinity card data will probably be a near-perfect match of your own!

By Matt Platte (not verified) on 05 Oct 2007 #permalink

Non of my grocery cards use my real name - they use the address from where I was born (2000 miles away) and the name of character from a childhood book.

By sea Creature (not verified) on 06 Oct 2007 #permalink

In a small town near us, they have an old-fashioned soda fountain where you can get a mixed on the spot drug store soda pop in a frosty glass - no bottled stuff there. Quite a treat and a memory.

By SuzyQueue (not verified) on 07 Oct 2007 #permalink

I don't use those discount cards. It's not worth it for places like CVS (esp. since they make you scan it when you fill prescriptions! something like you get a discount on other stuff after you fill X number of prescriptions, but ew, don't track my drug purchases) where I don't spend a lot of money. My grocery stores of choice are Trader Joe's, Sudbury Farms (part of Roche Bros.), Hannaford, and Publix. None of them have cards, and all seem to do a bustling business. The first three are found here in New England; Publix is in my homeland of Florida.

Those specialty sodas sound delicious!

I personally give them the zip code that belongs to a nearby college campus. If that doesn't cause my purchase info to get lost in a wash of stats, I don't know what will.