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AriZona via Instagram
AriZona via Instagram

Why Is AriZona Iced Tea Cheaper Than Water?

AriZona via Instagram
AriZona via Instagram

Despite being a bladder-shattering 23.5 ounces, cans of AriZona iced tea have never wavered from the 99-cent price point introduced shortly after the drink debuted in 1992. It’s even printed on the label as a way of warding off sugar-water price gouging by retailers.

The fact that AriZona has been able to resist inflation for nearly a quarter-century is impressive. The fact that the cans usually wind up being cheaper than smaller soft drinks is also impressive, until you begin to realize how strange it is that a vat of iced tea and its accompanying ingredients somehow manages to be less expensive than plain water.

In a recent interview with Thrillist, AriZona chief marketing officer and co-owner Spencer Vultaggio shed some light on this convenience store mystery.

Unlike water titans Coke (which distributes Dasani), Evian, or Fiji, AriZona has virtually no advertising dollars invested in their teas. "We feel like it's more important to spend money on something that our customer really cares about, instead of buying billboards or putting our cans in the hands of some celebrity for a few minutes," Vultaggio said.

Even with a frugal approach to ads, AriZona still has to deal with rising production costs. To help resist increasing prices to compensate, the company has pursued alternative manufacturing methods, using 40 percent less aluminum in cans and having enough factories dotting the country to make transportation more efficient. Bottled water, in contrast, is sometimes sourced from abroad, making for exorbitant shipping costs.

In the end, it’s not the iced tea that’s more economical than the water; it’s that the container it comes in is simply cheaper to produce and transport. And while AriZona isn’t above charging a premium for fancier drinks—like a tea brewed with oak chips that sells for twice the price—their branding depends heavily on those familiar rows of 99-cent cans and the loyal consumers who keep reaching for them.

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The Latest Way to Enjoy Pho in Vietnam: As a Cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pho is something of a national dish in Vietnam. The noodle soup, typically topped with beef or chicken, can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There’s even a version of it for happy hour, as Lonely Planet reports.

The pho cocktail, served at Nê Cocktail Bar in Hanoi, contains many of the herbs and spices found in pho, like cinnamon, star anise, cilantro, and cardamom. Without the broth or meat, its taste is refreshingly sweet.

The drink's uniqueness makes it a popular choice among patrons, as does the dramatic way it's prepared. The bartender pours gin and triple sec through the top of a tall metal apparatus that contains three saucers holding the spices. He then lights the saucers on fire with a hand torch as the liquid flows through, allowing the flavors to infuse with the alcohol as the drink is filtered into a pitcher below.

The pho cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pham Tien Tiep, who was named Vietnam’s best bartender at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition in 2012, created the cocktail six years ago while working at the famous French Colonial-era hotel the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, according to AFP. He has since brought his signature drink to several of the stylish bars he owns in Vietnam’s capital, including Nê Cocktail Bar.

Initially, he set out to create a drink that would represent Vietnam’s culture and history. “I created the pho cocktail at the Metropole Hotel, just above the war bunkers where the American musician Joan Baez sang to the staff and guests in December 1972 as bombs fell on the city,” Tiep told Word Vietnam magazine. “The alcohol in the cocktail is lit on fire to represent the bombs, while spices, such as chili and cinnamon, reflect the warmness of her voice.”

Tiep has a reputation for infusing his drinks with unusual local ingredients. He has also created a cocktail that features fish sauce, a popular condiment in Vietnam, and another that contains capsicum, chili, and lemongrass in an ode to the bo luc lac (shaking beef) dish, according to CNN.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Just Two Cans of Soda a Day May Double Your Risk of Death From Heart Disease
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iStock

If you've been stocking your refrigerator full of carbonated corn syrup in anticipation of warmer weather, the American Heart Association has some bad news. The advocacy group on Wednesday released results of research that demonstrate a link between consumption of sugary drinks—including soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened beverages—and an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Study participants who reported consuming 24 ounces or more of sugary drinks per day had twice the risk of death from coronary artery disease of those who averaged less than 1 ounce daily. There was also an increased risk of death overall, including from other cardiovascular conditions.

The study, led by Emory University professor Jean Welsh, examined data taken from a longitudinal study of 17,930 adults over the age of 45 with no previous history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Researchers followed participants for six years, and examined death records to determine causes. They observed a greater risk of death associated with sugary drinks even when they controlled for other factors, including race, income, education, smoking habits, and physical activity. The study does not show cause and effect, the researchers said, but does illuminate a trend.

The study also noted that while it showed an increased risk of death from heart disease, consumption of sugary foods was not shown to carry similar risk. One possible explanation is that the body metabolizes the sugars differently: Solid foods carry other nutrients, like fat and protein, that slow metabolism, while sugary drinks provide an undiluted influx of carbohydrates that the body must process.

The news will likely prove troublesome for the beverage industry, which has long contended with concerns that sugary drinks contribute to type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Some cities, including Seattle, have introduced controversial "soda tax" plans that raise the sales tax on the drinks in an effort to discourage consumption.

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