Opinion

Maria Sharapova’s candy is not the same as cigarettes

Sugarpova, like all food, is fine in moderation.

Maria Sharapova Sugarpova

Look, I’m not going to come right out and tell you guys that everyone needs to start preparing for the day when candy sales are restricted to those 18 and over.

But I do think we need to be worried about it as a possibility. Or we need to at least acknowledge the fact that there are people out there — lots of people — who would like to see that happen. 

Crystal Lindell
Crystal Lindell

Do you remember sweet, pretty Maria Sharapova? You know, the tennis player who’s probably a little better known for being a hot blonde than for being a hot tennis player? Remember? 

Anyway, as you probably know, she has a line of premium candy called, of course, Sugarpova. The premium line of gummies, sours, licorice and gum is sold in stand-up bags.

And now, like any good businesswoman, she’s trying to sell them. Since she’s got the whole tennis thing going on, she’s specifically trying to sell them at a pop-up shop set up by Wimbledon.

Alas, people are seriously upset about this.

Like, seriously. Upset.

A report in the UK’s Independent reads,

“Scientists and nutritionists have condemned the creation of a pop-up store for Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova sweet brand near the All England club as “reprehensible,” saying it bears comparison with Martina Navratilova’s decision to wear clothes emblazoned with cigarette advertising in 1982.”

AND:

“Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist working with the campaign group Action on Sugar, agreed that celebrity endorsement sends the wrong message: ‘The underlying cause of obesity and diet-related illnesses is our food and drink environment. Sugary sweets should not be associated with Wimbledon, full stop.’”

AND:

“Professor Tom Sanders, the head of diabetes and nutritional sciences at King’s College London, said: ‘I find sporting celebrity endorsements of unhealthy foods such as sweets and soft drinks reprehensible. The use of player’s clothing to promote cigarettes was outlawed almost 30 years ago – now it is time to crack down on player endorsement of unhealthy foods.”

OK. Look. I know that obesity is bad. In fact, I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that. But being “bad” and being “a cigarette” are not one and the same.

The most obvious difference is that you can quit tobacco cold turkey — you cannot quit FOOD cold turkey.

I get it though. People think if there was just some of sort of magic bullet that we could all blame the obesity epidemic on, then we could ban it and everyone would magically fit into a size 6 — even the men.

The problem is, though, there is no food magic bullet. Sugar is just ONE part of the food equation. There’s also fats, and carbs and even delicious, delicious sodium.

It’s literally impossible to eliminate all of those things. And eliminating just one of them (even if it’s the evil sugar monster) isn’t going to solve anyone’s problem. Sugar is found in nature, right there in fruit, and by extension, fruit juices. And I don’t think anyone believes we all need to give up strawberries.

Also, it should be noted that Sharapova never intended for her treats to “healthy.” She’s never pretended they were the type of thing someone should eat every day, all day.  

Jeff Rubin — founder of the chain of It’Sugar stores, who helped Sharapova launch the line, explained the product when it first launched.

“For me, someone who’s been going to over 20 years of [candy] shows... we see different athletes at every candy show, selling an organic version of something or a healthy version of something or a natural version of something, when we all know that they all have sweet tooths and what they really love is gummies and sour,” he says.

Exactly. We all know that Maria Sharapova does not spend all her days only eating food that’s sugar-free, non-fat, non-GMO, gluten-free, calorie-free, all-natural, sodium-free, carb-free, organic, and made with 100 percent natural colors and natural flavors. Because the only food that fits description is water. And even the beautiful Maria Sharpova cannot live on water alone.

And taking that one step further, she’s proof that a little sugar won’t kill you. She’s in great shape, her body is perfectly healthy, and she snacks on sour gummies in her free time.

So let’s all stop pretending that solving the obesity epidemic is going to be as simple as banning sugar. It’s not. It’s going to take public education campaigns, calorie-counts listed by menu items, portion control, moderation and probably a bunch of other stuff nobody’s even thought of yet.

The good news is, nobody will have to completely give up sugar — at least I hope not.

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