PROFESSORS ON COKE
Earlier, I noted this post from Brad DeLong about his need to consume 40 ounces of Coke to get through three office hours. I was going to post something about how awful it must be to have to do three whole hours of sitting in the office waiting for students to show up and some amusing aside that even the most gifted economists are not necessarily utility maximizers. But I didn’t think that was enough for a post, so I passed.
Today I sat through a four-hour meeting followed by a one-hour meeting followed by three and a half hours of office hours (the students have a paper due next week). Espressos, breve lattes, and Diet Cokes were the order of the day. The blood sugar spike from the regular Coke, even from rather a lot of regular Coke (and 40 oz. doesn’t yet begin to qualify as ‘a lot’ on a day like that) disappears much faster than the caffeine effect, and the subsequent sugar crash is harder to shake than the comedown from caffeine. I can go through eleven or twelve hours never really crashing from caffeine; I just have some more. Sugar doesn’t, as far as I can tell, work like that; you’re going to pay for the spike with crashes pretty regularly through the day even if you keep chugging. If you need blood sugar, eat something– and something that’s not all sugar.
Steven, who teaches at a place where lattes, breve or otherwise, are decidedly unavailable, merely notes that Levy is his kinda prof.
As Steven can attest, I seldom consumed more than twelve cups a coffee a day in my teaching days. Ten if you subtract the amount I spilled on his carpet. Diet sodas are useful only for their portability and, if they are your only caffeine alternative, Mountain Dew is decidedly more efficient than a cola product. Coffee is the far better alternative in a variety of ways:
- The caffeine level is infinitely variable rather than predetermined by an evil apparatchik in Atlanta
- Ground coffee–or even beans and a grinder–take up decidedly less space than a commensurately caffeinated batch of soda
- Coffee–even good coffee–is far cheaper by volume, let alone caffeine unit–than soda
- Coffee has that wonderful coffee aroma and flavor, which soft drinks ordinarily do not
Q.E.D. coffee is better.
Update (1536 1-29): Dan Drezner has weighed in as well. He quotes the maxim I mention in the comments below, “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems,” correctly attributing it to Paul Erdos rather than Albert Einstein, a different smart guy who undoubtedly consumed coffee as well.