A former Coke executive working on the side of healthy food:
The logic behind these moves has been repeated so often it is practically a mantra: The nation is in the throes of an obesity crisis and sodas account for an outsize share of the sugar pouring into American bellies.
Putman, 51, shares that view. But he is also driven by another motive: From 1997 to mid-2000, he was a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola.
“It took me 10 years to figure out that I have a large karmic debt to pay for the number of Cokes I sold across this country,” he said.
On Thursday, he came to settle it.
He wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet — a campaign for what the company called “share of stomach.” He wanted to warn about the industry’s particular focus on young people and minorities.
But mostly he wanted to level the playing field.
“I’m not against soft drinks per se,” he began carefully. “What I am for is balance of power. And I think the power has shifted in the wrong direction. The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these companies use is intense.
“We need to take all that thinking . . . all that strategy and convert it — jujitsu it — to healthy products.”
Honestly, I don’t see why they can’t outlaw the sale of sodas to kids under 18. When my ex and I owned a neighborhood ice cream store, kids would come by on their way to school and buy big sodas – and a bag of barbecue potato chips. Nobody’s kids should eat like that.