Dear American Idol

Dear American Idol,

First just let me say how happy I am that you’re back. We love writing you into the family schedule with extra exclamation points and stars; already, we’ve spent way too many family dinners in heated discussions about prospective winners. (Phil Phillips: You heard it here first!) We love being part of the national conversation and the fact that we can go almost anywhere — from the soccer sidelines to the conference room to the birthday party  — and have a common currency among adults and kids alike. (“Do you speak American Idol?”) I’m not the first one to say it — but I like you guys a lot! WOW is it a fun show to watch!

But now that you have been around eleven years and now that you’ve made a mockery of all other shows in terms of what counts as ratings, and now that, as 30 Rock once pointed out, you are arguably as powerful as the U.S. government… how about doing something good with all that muscle? Cause you guys can do anything! You had Hulk Hogan stop by the show just because James Durbin happened to mention he liked pro wrestling. Lady GaGa, Beyonce. Josh Turner showed up to sing “I’m Your Man” with a shocked and delighted Scotty McCreery! You can call Carole King and she’ll be there. (Yes she will!) And I don’t even want to talk about what you pull off in the finale.

So my question is: What’s up with Coke as a sponsor? I know they’ve been your advertising bro from the beginning, but don’t you have your pick of the litter by now? Do you really really need them to be aligned with a show watched by tens of millions of people — many of whom, I have to assume, are children? I could almost overlook the constant, gratuitous sipping by the judges from their giant coke mugs (because everyone knows they’re really drinking water), but why run an ad showing mom (always mom) plunking down the big-ass two-liter bottle of Coke on the family dinner table? You know the one, right? The commercial where every family member is off in their own corner of the house, texting friends or killing aliens on xBox, and then with the magic fizzy twist of the Coke bottle, everyone gravitates, like zombies, toward the family table and begins to connect?

I like the message of dinner interrupting all the noise, I really do. But since you guys know everything, you must know on some level how bats#@t crazy the underlying premise of this ad is: That a jug of caffeine-and-sugar-loaded soda is the thing that not only brings everyone together… but calms everyone down? It’s crazy, because you must also know that consumption of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to childhood obesity. And that one third of children in this country are considered clinically obese? Right?

Listen, we’re not pleasure crushers around here. I am all for a soda now and then — we’ve even gone into way too much detail discussing the virtues of the post-beach ice-cold Coke on vacation (synonym for vacation: special occasion). But at the dinner table? I have to say, that really hits me where I live, and I just have to ask: Can’t you do something about it? Can’t you just say no to a commercial like that? Or how about this: How about calling up Michelle Obama — you have her on speed-dial, right? — and suggesting you partner her Let’s Move campaign. Or what about having Mom (or go crazy: make it Dad) open a bottle of Dasani Water, which is owned by Coke? I realize that’s not quite as sexy as dessert in a glass, and wow, do I sound like one righteous blogger here, but it just seems like the right thing to do. That ad makes me pine for another creepy slow-mo shot of a girl in a bikini washing an SUV. Or whatever.

If it sounds like I’m mad — well, I am. But more, I’m just concerned. All signs point to the fact that big things are coming in the way this country sees food. When Michael Pollan overtakes Ryan Seacrest with twitter followers, I just want to make sure you are on the right side of things.

Plus, that commercial is making it kinda hard for me to like you guys and I don’t like that feeling at all.


The DALS team

P.S. We can talk about the Kellogg’s chocolate-stuffed cereal later.

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Way to tell ’em! Couldn’t agree more. And will now sign up to follow Michael Pollan’s Twitter feed…


Just discovered your blog and really enjoy it, but the only way I can read it is to copy the text, put it in a Word document and then make it black. Would you consider making the text black, instead of grey for those of us who don’t have perfect eyesight?


Haha! It’s ok for parents to vent sometimes… How about the commercial from General Mills about whole grain being the first ingredient in their sugar-laden cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms? Even my teenaged sister was appalled 😉
Ps…liked your article in Bon Appetit. I was reading along and thought, “Hey…I know that blog!” We have been trying brussels sprouts with our kids. My parents aren’t helping…


Totally agree! We are not big soda fans in here. We only drink it medicinally, seriously. I keep ginger ale around the house for upset stomaches as it really does seem to work for us.


Love, love this post! Especially the PS part about the chocolate stuffed cereal. My kids have seen the commercial and found it at the grocery store yesterday. I told them maybe on vacation!

Paige Orloff

I’m so in love with you right now, it hurts. Almost as in love as I am with PHILIP PHILLIPS! Yes, I am an embarrassing, middle aged, AI loving mama. But I DO NOT, ever, serve Coke to my family at dinner (or any other time, for that matter.) And I,too, wish JLo et. al. would use their powers for more good.


Love your blog…but…..all those guests you mentioned (Hulk Hogan, etc.)…they get paid…how do they get paid…from the money Coke provides…I don’t see the “Broccoli Board” paying AI the amount of money Coke does any time soon. Also, we all have a choice, nobody is forcing us to drink Coke. I don’t look to AI to tell what products to buy and if my kid’s ask for it, I can say no.

Carol Patton

Lighten up and take charge of your family. Watch less TV and if you want to be effective outlaw soda and sweet sugar drinks from school vending machines. Also, outlaw bottled water and all those horrible plastic bottles. Water coolers and paper cups work just fine if you need filtered water.


I was JUST Fricking thinking the SAME THING when seeing the commercial tonight!!!!!! Then I was so put off by the it that I had to look up to see if there was someone blogging about it…..and there you are! LOL……… It’s all connected anyway…..So so so so so much money is being made off of American Idol They are advertising something to America which we’re already addicted to…sugar. It’s everywhere. I just do my part and not buy into and eat minimal sugar ( though, a girl’s gotta have her Christmas Cookies) ….I eat about 90% free of processed foods. Veggie CSA’s, meat csa’s, Support Local Agriculture! Yeah!