Mazoe Orange Crush: The Great Sugar Scandal

Schweppes makes changes to the Mazoe recipes

Zimbabweans, who are known for making light of serious situations, have, over the past few days, been complaining following the decision by Schweppes and Coca Cola to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in its Mazoe products. So serious has the issue become that the two companies were forced to issue a joint statement arguing that the decision to move away from sugar had been informed by the need to keep obesity levels in the country low.

Show me one obese Zimbabwean

does mazoe still taste the same

Now, I have decided to wad into this debate on account of the fact that I consider myself to be something of a neutral. I am no particular fan of Mazoe products, though they are well loved in my household and I have been known to take a sip or even two once in the proverbial blue moon. Not that I have anything against sugar, but I just like my drinks to have hops in them. Here, in any case, is my take on the issue;

  1. Show me an obese Zimbabwean?

I suspect this whole situation is a matter of the people at Schweppes reading on the internet that sugar causes obesity, and deciding to become do-gooders without carefully analyzing the situation. For one thing, I have traveled far and wide across the country, and I have never come across an obese Zimbabwean.

At least not the kind of obesity that one sees on “The Biggest Loser.” Indeed, if there are any overweight Zimbabweans anywhere, chances are high that their obesity is caused, not by drinking too much Mazoe Orange Crush, but by eating too much Sadza! I was once diagnosed with high blood pressure myself, and it had everything to do with eating too much of the white stuff.

If this trend is to be followed, therefore, we will soon see Blue Ribbon transitioning to manufacturing chalk, on account of the fact that their product is the number one cause of the high obesity levels that do not exist in Zimbabwe.

  1. Did anyone complain about the high sugar content?

Coca Cola and Schweppes jointly argued in their statement that they were only responding to consumer demands for healthier alternatives in the Mazoe drinks. This appears to be a complete untruth, based on the reactions that have come from people over the past few days.

If at all it was the consumers who had demanded to have sugar free sweeteners added to their drinks, then this entire scandal would not have been a scandal in the first place. Again, this appears to be a case of the two companies listening to consumers in the United States and then deciding that they were going to follow the fad.

  1. Did they even taste their products?

the new mazoe is bitter for some consumers

The truth of the matter is that not many of us ever bother to read the labels on the products that we are buying. In fact, Coca Cola and Schweppes would have gotten away with murder had it not been for the fact that they were not careful enough, during the transition to the sugar alternatives, to maintain the original taste in their Mazoe products.

That, in any case, was what gave them away. I was reading a couple of comments on some blog with regard to the whole issue, and most agreed that the new Mazoe products taste like toothpaste. Now, I admit I haven’t tasted the thing both on account of the earlier stated reason of not being a fan, and also for the simple reason that I will not taste a product that many have confessed tastes like Colgate. I do suspect, however, that the people who come up with the recipes at Schweppes are, like me, hops lovers. What this means is that their recipes were probably derived from the internet, with no one ever bothering to taste the resultant product!

  1. They didn’t bother to inform consumers about the changes

One of the major complaints coming from people with regard to the bastardized Mazoe recipes is the fact that the companies involved never bothered to inform people about the changes. It was only when Social Media went into overdraft, with calls for boycotts flying high and low, that they were forced to issue a statement.

  1. A clear lack of imagination

The word from the man on the street with regard to the great Mazoe scandal is that instead of jeopardizing the taste buds of countless Zimbabweans by changing the Mazoe formula, Schweppes should simply have introduced new products that are sugar free. Making the decision to drink a matter of choice would have worked better than trying to nichodemously pour bad tasting products down people’s throats.

  1. Why not also change Coca Cola’s Recipes?

the new mazoe is bitter for some consumers

Another question from the wise man on the street is that since they are so concerned about the negative effects of sugar, the people at Coca Cola, who joined in the Schweppes statement, should make similar changes to their Coke products. These, after all, are drunk in greater quantities in the country. Needless to say they probably wont do this largely because of the introduction in the country of Pepsi, their age old nemesis.

  1. What does this do for the country’s Forex reserves?

Its worth considering that the changes to the Mazoe recipes come at a time when the country has been grappling with foreign currency shortages. The ill advised decision to use imported sweeteners is, therefore, rather surprising. Zimbabwe has an abundance of sugar, and Schweppes should not be allowed to waste precious Forex on a product that, at best, is a luxury.

  1. Are the artificial sweeteners safe?

Finally, the biggest concern with regard to the artificial sweeteners rests on whether or not they are safe. Schweppes and Coca Cola insist on that being the case, while the wise man on the street is adamant that the sweeteners that are now being used cause cancer. While I am not sure either way, it really bothers me that Schweppes could have saved people from the danger of dying from obesity by killing them with cancer.

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