“Boy, the Church really is liberalizing, isn’t it?”—someone is bound to say.
Years after LDS Business College started serving up what we’ll refer to as “hard” Coke—which in Mormon terms means caffeine, not alcohol—today Brigham Young University Dining Services announced it will begin offering caffeinated soda on campus.
If this seems absurd to you, it’s because it is. Although the consumption of caffeinated sodas is not a violation of the Word of Wisdom, Mormonism’s health code, for years many have gone beyond the mark and assumed such was the case. We’d lump BYU in with that group.
Obviously, anything that is addictive or removes one’s agency is to be avoided, but offering caffeinated soda on campus will not likely result in the sea change many anti-caffeiners fear.
BYU’s official Facebook page stresses that caffeine was never banned, it was just not offered. This is often couched in an excuse that there was no “demand.”
[Caffeine] wasn’t banned. In the mid 1950s, the director of BYU Food Services decided not to sell caffeinated soft drinks, a decision that continued on. Until more recently, Dining Services rarely received requests for caffeinated soda. Consumer preferences have clearly changed and requests have become much more frequent.
The powers that be are taking this so seriously that someone in PR actually sat down with the director of BYU dining services to engage in a Q&A… about caffeinated sodas. Some gems, with our additions (“T” for “TWiM”).
Q: When did Dining Services make the decision not to sell caffeinated soft drinks?
A: In the mid 1950s, the director of BYU Food Services decided not to sell caffeinated soft drinks. This decision has continued on since that time. Until more recently, Dining Services rarely received requests for caffeinated soda. Consumer preferences have clearly changed and requests have become much more frequent.
T: Sure, right. OK.
Q: Has the university been supportive of this decision?
A: Yes, the Administrative Vice President has been supportive and has kept the President’s Council informed.
T: Do you mean to tell us if the Administration was unsupportive this would have somehow gone forward anyway?
Q: When will this change go into effect?
A: We have already started adding caffeinated soft drinks to the inventory of beverages we sell on campus. Although we are now offering canned and bottled caffeinated soft drinks, it will take longer to change out our fountain equipment.
T: We’ve seen photographic evidence that the drinks were available within minutes of the announcement.
Q: In changing out the fountain machines, will BYU be able to get the new “freestyle” dispensers?
A: We will provide the latest dispensing equipment at certain locations on campus.
Q: Will Dining Services continue to provide caffeine-free soda?
A: Yes. All of the soft drinks, and other beverages, that BYU currently provides will continue to be offered.
Q: Are you going to sell energy drinks?
A: Highly-caffeinated energy drinks will not be sold by Dining Services.
T: But Jolt is making a comeback!
Q: There are those who would say that Dining Services should not be offering soda at all? How do you respond to these concerns?
A: We realize that there are many choices to be made, and some are more nutritious than others. We strive to offer a variety of food choices and encourage our customers to make healthy choices. We encourage our patrons to visit the Dining Services website where a program is available to promote not only healthy eating, but also a healthy lifestyle. The program is referred to on the website as EAT: Eat, Act, Think.
T: There’s money to be had in a contract with Coke.
Q: Does this change your contract with Coca-Cola?
A: No. We have notified Coca-Cola of this change, and our business relationship will continue as before.
T: Why would the business relationship be different? This is a chance for the vendor to sell MORE product, not less.
Q: Was this decision financially motivated?
A: This decision was not based on financial considerations. We are simply working to meet the preferences of our customers.
Q: Can other vendors now sell caffeinated soft drinks on campus?
A: Just as before, our contract is with Coca-Cola. It is very important that we abide by this contract, which permits us to only offer Coca-Cola products. There are few, limited exceptions; however, it would be a violation of that contract to allow others to come onto campus and sell competing products.
T: Pepsi will never have its day. Also, what does this mean for Dr. Pepper, which is its own company?!
For their part, whoever manages BYU’s Facebook feed gets props for humor.
Caffeinated beverages will also be sold at sporting events. No word on whether those missionaries in their fancy new MTC will also have access. After all, the MTC is technically on-campus.
Either way, Provo is now likely to become a place of vagabonds and layabouts, buzzed out of their minds on the good stuff, with Swig or Sodalicious (assuming both survive their internecine legal proceedings) serving the black market. These are dark days, indeed.
Remember who you are! Keep the Honor Code!