Ice in soft drinks: Are Europeans right or superstitious?

I have been to a number of eastern European countries (Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia) and they don’t seem to like ice in their soft drinks. Also, after having searched the forum threads for “iced drinks” I found one poll-type thread where people were asked whether they liked ice in their drinks or not but did not address the questions I have posted below. And also in this thread, some people also mentioned that this preference for no ice is prevalent in several other western European countries.

My question for the teeming masses (and Cecil, of course) stems from what these Europeans have told me as to why they don’t like ice. Many of them (if not most) have said that they don’t put ice in their (already cold) beverages because drinking a liquid that is too cold will give you a sore throat. One response in the “iced drinks” thread I mentioned said they heard that it is bad for your stomach as well. To me, this seems ludicrous. I have never gotten a sore throat/sore stomach from drinking a liquid that is too cold and also, when you already have a sore or swollen throat, don’t doctors recommend cold beverages to reduce the swelling and/or reduce the pain?

So, has my typically American routine of putting ice in my soft drinks caused me develop a tolerance (per se) to the effects of iced drinks or has their typically European routine of NOT putting ice in their soft drinks caused them to develop a sensitivity to the effects of iced drinks? Could this be a case of some sort of psychosomatic response? Could this be a case of some sort of “old wives tale” superstition, not unlike how many eastern Europeans tell you to close windows in the fall and winter or “you’ll catch a draft” and get sick?

Thanks for your time.

I think it’s just ingrained cultural superstitions. We’re used to a lot of ice, and they’re not. Even when you ask for ice in your drink, it’ll be one pitiful little cube floating in 12 oz of soda.

If you try to tell someone here in Texas during the months between April and October that iced drinks cause problems and are bad for you, and they’ll probably try to have you committed for mental health observation.

Same thing as the sleeping with a fan on business in Korea.

It’s not about superstitions, it’s about money. A cup half full of ice is cup half empty of soda. Europeans don’t like getting ripped off.

There’s also a water safety question here. Freezing doesn’t kill pathogens, so ice made with impure tap water can contaminate your drink.

Gastroenteritis from contaminated melted ice could lead to a reputation that ice is “bad for the stomach.”

When I visited Europe in 1980 and '86 I noticed a lack of ice in soft drinks. A friend pointed out that the recipe for ice is water and energy. Perhaps energy costs, and maybe small refrigerators, played a part in the no ice tradition?

cold liquids causing sore throat is just a weird superstition. Sore throats are caused by viruses and bacteria and irritation from coughing.

However, as noted, poorly or untreated tap water in the form of ice cubes does in fact cause sickness. Such was common in Eastern Europe as recently as the mid-late 90s. And I don’t think the electrical supply was all that consistent. These things would tend to make people avoid ice.

This European likes her drinks un-watered-down. But I also have the experience that people tend to shut up when they hear “oh I just don’t want to have something that cold” much more readily than if I say I like my drinks un-watered-down. If having sensitive teeth makes people leave the pile of ice off my soda I’ll have sensitive teeth, a delicate throat and a tendency for ear infections.

A poll among a group of European coworkers from half a dozen nationalities showed that the most frequent real reasons were:

  • I don’t like sodas watered down,
  • I like my gassy drinks to have gas,
  • I want to get what I pay for - which is soda, not ice
    and the same experience. In fact, our American coworkers proceeded to inform us that filling half the glass with ice does not water the drink down, make it go flat faster, or mean that half of what you pay is for ice. We gave them a colective rolleyes and went back to coming up with bad names for the so-called coffee from the machine…

Seeing as most American establishments have free refills on soft drinks, it’s a moot point.

If I drink a can of soda it comes refrigerated – ideally to about 35 degrees (or 2C). If I drink a soda at a restaurant it tastes about the same even though it has ice. They mix it on the spot and I suspect they make it stronger than canned soda so that when the ice melts some it has about the same strength. Soda is incredibly cheap, and at most places you can get unlimited refills. I’ve heard that the costs less than the paper cup it’s served in so I don’t think watering it down is a cost saver either.

European establishments don’t have free refills. Then again, the only ones that use paper cups are fast food chains and movie theaters…

I’ve never had a sore throat from eating or drinking something cold. It does sometimes give me a very painful headache, though. It is not completely implausible that some people might get a (temporary) pain in their throat.

But no one said is causes them sore throat or stomach upset.

In other words, they have reasons, which are different from superstitions. In other words, this is not an answer to the question the OP asked. His friends tell him it causes sore throat. He wants to know, is this a superstition? The answer is yes, yes it is. However there may be some shred of truth in the “causes upset stomach” if you assume unsafe water supply.

Yes but we ALL had the experience that telling an American “I don’t want to get a sore throat” got the American to shut the fuck up, whereas saying “I don’t like my drinks watered down” would get the American to get into 3yo mode: we’d be trying to have a meal in peace, the American would be trying to fix our taste in sodas. It ain’t broken, keep your damn hands off it!

Saying “makes my throat/teeth/head/ears hurt”, OTOH, would get the American to shut up and let us enjoy the meal in blessed peace.

In other words, and let’s see if this time I’m clear enough, it’s a trick to get the American to stop asking stupid questions which many of us would also consider terribly impolite.

I completely understand both sides of the issue.
For my grandparents’ generation, ice was almost poison. So were fans and a/c, especially if you were sweating.
In took to my generation to fully accept ice as a member of the family. We don’t put lots of ice in restaurants. If you ask for ice they’ll bring it in a glass so you can dispense at your pleasure.

However, in the US even with machine soda they cram it full of ice. The first thing my dad told me was “hold the ice”. It’s not only the volume, it’s also that is tiny ice that melts immediately.

The only place in Europe that I got a soft drink with ice in it was a Subway franchise in Dublin, Ireland. Obviously, it was because it was an American chain. Elsewhere, if I wanted ice, I had to ask for it (and might not get it).
I never asked people why they didn’t put ice in. Certainly there is a tradition of using ice in alcoholic beverages.

Many of my Chinese friends also assert that overly cold drinks are bad for you in some vague way. I think they use the usual vague “stomach problems” excuse. It’s not a matter of disliking watered-down drinks either, since they’re just as likely to ask for water with no ice.

This is just utterly bizarre to me. I’m American, I ask for “no ice” or “easy ice” all the time, and I have never ever gotten weird looks or any argument. That’s just really odd.

When I was on business in Korea, I certainly didn’t sleep with a fan. :dubious:

Order a coke in Paris and usually you’ll get the bottle, and a glass. Ask for ice and what you get will depend on how much ice is available. Some places have small fridges (with small freezers) that run on gas. The gas costs money ergo the ice costs money. So you may only get a couple/few cubes. Here in the US those limitations don’t exist.

A couple years ago in Barcelona on a really hot July weekend I asked for a large coke and they gave me huge glass jar full of ice and coke! Cost about $12 bucks but it was Summer and in the middle of the Ramblas… no discounts there.

When I was a kid my family used to go into a bar at a lake (we kept a small boat there, and spent weekends there). The bar guy kept the coke mix at the bar coke dispenser sort of syrupy on purpose - so when he put it in a glass of ice it would still be strong flavored. If you asked for it without ice he would add more bubbly water from the other dispenser to bring it down to normal strength.
Only place I know of that did that…