Friday, March 5, 2010

Nerds and Diet Coke

Have you ever wondered why nerds drink so much Diet Coke? So did I.

My Diet Coke habit started in about 1986. Within a year or so, I was up to 4 liters a day, sometimes more. That's about 12 cans in a day. I drink morning, noon, and night. I knew other nerds with the Diet Coke Monkey on their backs, but didn't think much of it. Once, my friends at NASA tried to help me kick the habit, but after a few days of Head Down on the Keyboard they enthusiastically supported my return to the caffeine.

I once lived in an apartment with some other nerds, and we collected the empty 2-liter bottles. Eventually we had enough to fill the kitchen to a depth of a couple feet, like a ball pit. Good times.

When I moved to Silicon Valley 10 years ago, it made perfect sense that Diet Coke should be free to all engineers. It would be insane to do otherwise.

The first glimmer of understanding came when my wife and I were considering getting ADHD meds for our 9 year old son. We had resisted this for a long time. I started to read about the symptoms, and the drugs, and how they worked. Mostly stimulants. They have a 'paradoxical' effect of calming you down and allowing you to concentrate on things.

Then I realized that all those jokes about my 'intravenous diet coke' maybe weren't so funny. Or at least not in the same way. Wow. I had been self-medicating for ADHD for over 20 years.

Ok, so you might be wondering "Why Diet Coke? What's wrong with just Coke?" Well, at about 100 calories per can, I would have put on about 2.5 lbs per week (~100 lbs/year). I made the switch to Diet during my freshman year, in 1986.


  1. With regular coke, the added calories would have made you full thus preventing further consumption. So, it may have actually balanced out in the end.

  2. I remember working the front desk at IronPort and EVERY morning, you walked in the front door with that ginormous GULP size cup...