CNN published an amazing report Wednesday morning, about a man in Florida took a gulp of his Pepsico (PEP) Diet Pepsi and started choking. The reason? The Diet Pepsi can was chock-full of toad guts, not something you normally find in a can of Diet Pepsi.
This story reminds me of an experience I had back in graduate school. I was sitting on the lawn on a warm September afternoon with a can of Coca Cola Company (KO) Diet Coke. I took a sip and leaned back, setting the can solidly on the grass. A minute later I took another sip out of the can -- only to feel a bug moving on my tongue.
It turns out that along with my swig of Diet Coke, I had ingested a yellow jacket. Fortunately, I was able to spit it out before it stung my tongue. And there is no reasonable way that I could blame Coke for that yellow jacket, since it must have crawled into the open can while I wasn't watching.
But the same can't be said for that toad-gut-infested can of Diet Pepsi. As CNN reported, Fred DeNegri was grilling in his backyard tiki bar in Ormond Beach, FL when he started choking after taking a swig from a can of Diet Pepsi. His wife Amy tried emptying the can into the sink but a heavy residue remained lodged in the can.
That's when Amy managed to disgorge what she described as "pink linguine" onto a paper plate followed by "dark stuff." The FDA got hold of that special can of Diet Pepsi and its report noted that, "The animal was lacking internal organs normally found in the abdominal and thoracic cavity."
Meanwhile, Pepsi says it does not make a regular practice of adding toad guts to its Diet Pepsi. An FDA spokesperson, Siobhan DeLancey, told CNN that the agency investigated the incident but does not know how the guts got there, saying in an e-mail, "We have not determined when or how the contamination occurred." And Pepsi's Jeff Dahncke told CNN that the company is confident "in the quality of our products and the integrity of our manufacturing system." So no worries there.
The moral of the story -- nature abhors a vacuum. In my case, I needed a little protein -- in the form of a wriggling yellow jacket in my mouth -- to offset the zero calories in my Diet Coke. And nature, not Pepsico, filled DeNegri's can with a clump of toad guts to make up for the lack of nutritional value in his Diet Pepsi.
(UPDATE: This story originally identified DeLancey as a spokesperson for PepsiCo. It has been corrected to reflect her affiliation with the FDA.)