The cost of a vice: A&W Root Beer

We all have our vices. Some of us smoke. Some of us drink. Some of us have an insatiable urge to collect chicken figurines.

And some of us love root beer.

I was fizz-free for years. Hadn’t had a root beer since I was a kid. Then last summer I wanted to try the new Beyond Meat burger at A&W. At the time you couldn’t get them in stores, and we hadn’t gone to a dine-in fast food place since before we had kids — more than a decade ago.

I have a soft spot in my heart for diners. When we lived on the West coast my husband and I hit up every diner we could find. There’s just something about the vinyl booths, the jukeboxes, the greasy food, and the milkshakes. There’s no diners where we live now, but A&W’s classic style comes pretty damn close, and I wanted my kids to have that nostalgic, diner-esque experience.

Now, I should clarify: we don’t do sugary drinks in our house. Our drinks of choice are water or skim milk, and on rare occasions, like birthdays, we’ll throw in some diluted juice, cause that stuff’s just sugar. So when I said we could all get what must have been 1L sized frosty mugs of regular, sugar-filled root beer, the kids eyeballs looked more like ping pong balls than human organs.

And man oh man, that stuff was wicked.

It started slowly after that. I bought a 12-pack so I could have it “just when we have burgers at home.” Then I wanted it when we made homemade pizza. Then I wanted some after a hard day when the kids were in bed and my husband and I watched Prime Video.

Then I was having it alone, every night, before bed. I told myself it was ok because I bought the diet version and it was caffeine-free. But I’d suck that puppy slooooooowly, though an ocean-destroying plastic straw, making that baby last for a good 30 – 45 minutes.

That’s when I started to worry if the acids were slowly dissolving my teeth like a can of coke dissolves an egg shell, leaving gelatinous little sacks of dental pulp.


So then I looked at my meticulous financial tracking of “treat beverages” (which includes juice, root beer, and dealcoholized beer), and I realized that not only was I likely adding to a future dental bill with every sip, but I had likely spent about half of my “treat beverage” amount on root beer; about $11 a month. Ok ok, not that much I suppose, but still — did I want to spend $132 a year to dissolve my teeth?

So I’ve told myself I’ll drink through my last few cases and then that’s it. I’m done. I’m going clean.

Image of root beer is (C) Jorge Franganillo, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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