'Parks and Rec': Leslie takes a big gulp, taxes oversized drinks

Last night’s episode of Parks and Recreation brought (most of) the cast back to Pawnee after Leslie’s trip to Washington. The town that dubs itself “First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity” lived up to its credo, introducing us to a host of ludicrous fast-food chains:

-Paunch Burger
-Big-N-Wide
-Fat Sack
-Colonel Plump
-Slop Trough (formerly Sue’s Salads, before it got run out of town)

Consider those official additions to Pawnee’s already ridiculous retinue of vendors, including Ron’s grocery store of choice, Food and Stuff, and the candy conglomerate Sweetums. Early in the episode, Ron headed to Paunch Burger to pick up a No. 2: a double-bacon grenade deluxe, hash browns, chili cheese fries, and one poached egg. For kicks he tossed in a 64-ounce Sweetums Sugar Splash. This repulsive (or incredible — your call) combination ranks second only to Ron’s favorite meal, The Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse from J.J.’s Diner.

Leslie decided to impose a Soda Tax to combat Pawnee’s dependence on sugary drinks. Which brings us to exhibits A, B, and C.

Exhibit A: a 128-ounce to-go cup, called “The Regular”
Exhibit B: a “horrifying” 512-ounce cup, which is “roughly the size of a 2-year-old child, if the child were liquefied.” (It costs $1.59)
Exhibit C: the smaller choice, “Lil’ Swallow,” which is essentially a Dixie cup

Of course, if you’re looking for healthy options, there’s always Water Zero (which somehow has 300 calories per serving) and Diet Water Zero Light (only 60 calories!).

When Leslie learned that her tax may cause layoffs at the fast-food restaurants, she called another of Pawnee’s notorious town hall meetings. These meetings consistently provide some of the show’s best moments, as the writers are clearly having a field day with Pawnee’s demented citizens. Some gems from this one:

-“My husband started drinking those diet sodas and he’s gained 100 pounds in three months. Consequently we haven’t had sex in 10 years.”
-“I think we should tax all bad things, like racism. And women’s vaginas.”
-“If we tax soda, what’s next — income?”

After an unusual pep talk with Ron, Leslie determined to risk the possibility of layoffs and vote in favor of the Soda Tax. (Props to Mayor Bloomberg!)

All told, it was a confident return to form for a series that excels at fleshing out the hysterically strange-yet-endearing world of Pawnee.

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