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Frugal or Cheap: Using True Orange at a Restaurant?

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We know there's fine line between being frugal and being cheap. At this website, and many other other money-conscious websites, being frugal is something to be celebrated. There's nothing wrong with trying to stretch a dollar. However, some times people take it too far, to the point of being cheap. That's typically not something that is celebrated, save for a few people on TLC's Extreme Cheapskates show.

Today, I've got something that I feel walks that fine line between frugal and cheap. I may have mentioned it a couple of times (especially in a SodaStream article), but I'm a big fan of True Orange. It's a product that I don't think a lot of people know about. Essentially it's crystallized orange in a sugar packet-sized foil wrap. Add it to water (or carbonated water via a SodaStream) and you've got a lightly orange-flavored calorie-free drink. You avoid all the artificial sweeteners found in soda and the sugar in lemonade or juice. Nit-pickers may point out that soy (a controversial ingredient) and cane juice appear in the ingredients, but I believe it to be in too small a quantity to be significant. The same company makes True Lemon and True Lime, but their Orange is my favorite.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the idea that I could save myself a couple of dollars at restaurants by ordering water and add a packet of True Orange. The idea actually came to more for the health reasons mentioned above than the money saving reasons. I decided to put a packet in my thin wallet for future use. Last week, we were at the Olive Garden for lunch and it occurred to me this would be a good time to put my money saving plan into effect.

I had told my wife before and made sure that she wouldn't be too embarrassed by my experiment. Her opinion was that you shouldn't do in front of the waitress or with important company. Of course, I wouldn't do that. I got to wondering whether it was "wrong" in the first place. I remember getting the following comment in my article about saving money at restaurants:

Drink water is fine. Request lemon is fine. But do NOT make pauper’s lemonade in a restaurant.
1. It is tacky
2. Water with lemon is a cost to the restaurant and a courtesy to the customer, don’t abuse it.
3. Your waiter will see you as a cheap-ass and presume you’ll also be skimping on the gratuity. Your service will be lousy.
4. Your waiter counts on you paying for drinks to up the bill as most people tip based on a percentage of the bill. It is the same amount of work for them to get your makings for lemonade, but they see no bump to the bill (and tip).

So: Drink water, even with lemon. Don’t make your own lemonade as it is rude, tacky and cheap. Don’t cheap out on the gratuity, unless you never plan to visit that restaurant again.

I don't know if this is tacky or not. However, at least it is not a cost to the restaurant (other than water, which would be like charging to use the restroom). If the waiter doesn't see me put a packet of True Orange in (my wife didn't see it even when I forewarned her), he/she can't see me as cheap and presume a lower tip. I think the commenter is wrong that the waiter should count on people to pay for drinks to up the bill. It's probably fair the waiter to be disappointed in having a small bill table, but I don't feel obligated to give the restaurant more money just so that they can expect a higher tip.

The other thing that I thought might be wrong is bringing in "outside food" to a restaurant. That's tacky, right? But does a packet of calorie-free True Orange count as outside food? It's not much different than a free lemon wedge right (except that it packs more flavor)? No restaurant, that I've been to, has giving me the option to purchase True Orange. It's not like I'm taking away the sale of a product. I haven't been to a restaurant that offers a similar calorie-free, no artificial sweetener alternative that I can buy (actually maybe unsweetened ice tea counts? I'm not a big ice tea fan).

At 5 cents a packet, True Orange can save some money. If you go to a restaurant once a week, you can spend anywhere between $100 and $150 in soda. The same amount of True Orange comes out to around $2.60. Is it the world's best money saving tip? Nope. However if I do something that is healthier and keep $100 in my pocket, that's a good thing, right?

So what's your call? Does using True Orange in water in lieu of ordering a drink count as cheap or just great frugal thinking?

Posted on September 11, 2013.

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38 Responses to “Frugal or Cheap: Using True Orange at a Restaurant?”

  1. Steve says:

    Would you bring a can of soda into the restaurant? This is the same except you are asking the restaurant to provide the liquid…

    IMHO, either live with drinking regular old water, with a free lemon if they provide them, or pay up for the drink.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Most restaurant sells soda though. To me, that’s obvious on the cheap side. Also there’s no health case to be made for drinking soda vs. True Orange. For what it is worth, I have no problem bringing a diet Coke or Pepsi into a Starbucks as they don’t provide that option (last I checked they had only full calorie sodas).

  2. Panda says:

    There really is no fine line between being frugal or being cheap.

    Being frugal affects you for your own frugal gain. Being cheap affects other people for your own cheap gain.

    In this case, you gain and the restaurant loses.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Panda, I think I disagree. Wouldn’t it be frugal to go to the library and check out a book? By your definition the author would lose a sale vs. me buying on Amazon. Thus everyone using a library to check out books is being cheap for their own cheap gain?

      Also if someone orders a water and no drink, the restaurant loses? What did they lose out on there exact? The only think I can think of is the opportunity to sell a beverage. If so, couldn’t it be seen as the restaurant losing if I don’t order their highest margin item on the menu? They lose the opportunity to sell the high-margin item.

  3. Abigail says:

    This would make me very uncomfortable. Of course, part of this is that I almost always drink water in any setting. I don’t see why it’s a big deal to “settle” for water if you don’t want to pay for soda.

    By the way, I assume this stuff doesn’t color the water? Otherwise, the server *will* absolutely know you’re not just drinking water. That seems to play into your decision.

    So, let’s assume that it’s colorless — and that the server constantly topping off your glass doesn’t ruin the flavor. You’re saying it’s a victimless crime because no one but you knows.

    Except a good chunk of your argument is that what you’re doing is okay because the restaurant doesn’t offer it and so isn’t losing money. If that’s what makes it okay, why does it matter if people know what you’re doing?

    If you’re completely comfortable with what you’re doing, you should feel comfortable having people see.

    In fact, I’ll take that a step further.

    You said you drink Diet Coke. Let’s say you’re a die-hard fan and won’t drink anything else. The restaurant only carries Pepsi products. Do you feel comfortable bringing in a can of Coke?

    It’s something the restaurant doesn’t offer, so they’re not losing money. If you’re okay with doing that, out in the open, then I guess it’s fine.

    If, however, you are only willing to do this kind of thing because no one sees or knows… Well, that should tell you something.

    Obviously, I think it’s somewhat tacky and is more cheap than frugal. But that may not be the case for you. Maybe you would be comfortable bringing in a can of Coke.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Yep, it’s completely clear. I don’t know if I would take out a Mio or something like that. I think my fear in that is that you then have to go into a long explanation that you are looking for a calorie-free, artificial sweetener drink for health reasons. (Mio does have artificial sweeteners.) The assumption that people would make in a restaurant if you put something like a Mio in your water is that you are cheap. And though I probably shouldn’t care what other people think, I kind of do sometimes. Maybe that’s the way I’m wired. I don’t think that should be defining whether it is frugal or cheap?

      If a restaurant had True Orange on the menu as something that I could buy for a couple of bucks, would I pay it vs. fishing in my wallet for a free packet? Certainly. That’s where I think comparison of a soda is off-target.

      I do drink Diet Coke, but this is part of my plan to try not drink as much Diet Coke. To answer your question though, I don’t think you can play brand favorites. I do like Diet Coke better than Diet Pepsi, but if a place only has Pepsi products, I’ll drink that. I can’t speak for others who are fanatical about a brand. I can say that when we lived on the west coast and I dragged my wife my wife came to the bar to watch the Patriots play at 10AM, she had no problem bringing a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks with her. We each had breakfast and I had a couple of drinks during the game and rung up a nice tab. No one complained or I even think looked at us funny. I’m pretty sure I saw more than a few people it too.

  4. Panda says:

    Hello Lazy Man,

    Thank you for leaving my previous comment. I have re-read it and it is terse and slightly rude. But, I am glad to spur some discussion on the topic.

    A library whole purpose is to lend and share books. Amazon is in business to sell books. Using a library rather than buying a book at Amazon is definitely frugal. Your actions got you the book in the most economical fashion and the only extra cost was bourne by yourself (not owning the book, going to library and then returning the book hassle).

    A restaurant is in the business to sell food, drink, or a meal. To that end, the restaurant will offer amenities to make the establishment more attractive (such as offering water, or silverware, table cloths, or bread and butter). So to use the amenities without honoring the purpose of why you are at the restaurant, to me, is on the side of being cheap, rather than frugal. One could bring their own salami and cheese and make a sandwich with the “free” bread and eat it at the table. Bring their own sodas. Others have given these examples.

    So again, to me deciding between “frugal” and “cheap” is straightforward and mostly told by who is affected by the frugal/cheap action.

    nuff said and again apologize for the tone of the first post.

  5. Paul says:

    It’s simple. Ask. If they are ok with it do it. If not don’t. Heck ask for a manager and suggest they start offering it.

    Did you ever pick a printer?

    • Lazy Man says:

      Paul, that’s a great idea. (I picked this printer and have been happy with it.)

      No problem Panda. I’ve had one of those weeks where I’ve come to expect terse. I think there’s a difference between bringing salami and cheese, or sodas, vs. calorie-free flavoring that’s in my wallet. Maybe I’m the only that sees a difference there? If someone likes Sweet N Low, but the restaurant provides Splenda is it wrong to use your own Sweet N Low from your wallet? Is this much different than substituting True Orange for their free lemon wedge?

  6. Vogel says:

    The restaurant would only lose out by your using True Orange if what you would have ordered instead was something other than water. If the choice is between water vs. water with True Orange, then the restaurant loses nothing either way.

    The money you save on drinks could end up on the waiter’s tip, or being spent on extra menu items, or dining at that particular establishment more often/at all. So it’s possible that True Orange could be a windfall for the restaurant.

    Not so simple is it?

    • Lazy Man says:

      I think it’s very hard (perhaps impossible) to quantify “restaurants losing out” as a sign of cheapness. If I use a buy one, get one free from an Entertainment Book, one could say that the restaurant is losing the value of an entree, which makes a drink tiny in comparison. However, many restaurants embrace the concept because it brings them more customers, which at their margins means more money.

      I know the article put it in terms of saving money, but maybe not feeling gouged for $3 for a soda or $6 for a beer makes you want to go out a little more.

  7. If I ran a restaurant and someone mixed their own packet drink mix at the table I don’t think I’d be very happy with that. The restaurant are being courteous enough to provide you with cold water in a glass that they will need to wash. If you’re not happy with the options available, bringing your own doesn’t become acceptable. What if it was a vegetarian restaurant and you wanted to eat a steak? Would you bring one because they don’t sell them, or would you just go somewhere that served them to begin with?

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’m wondering if I described True Orange well enough. It’s different than say Crystal Light On-The-Go and more akin to a Splenda packet. It says that one packet is equal to one wedge, so if I were to use the True Lemon or True Lime product it would be the exact equivalent of the restaurant putting their free lemon wedge.

      Again, comparisons to bringing your own meal or soda are very, very different. A closer one would be bringing your own brand of butter for the free bread. They tend to give you butter anyway, but you really, really prefer this brand. A real world example of something similar is a diner allowing customer to bring their own real maple syrup. Most don’t have real maple syrup because it is very cost prohibitive. I’ve seen a few places say that you can bring your own.

      You could say that I should look for restaurants that say I could bring my own True Orange or True Lemon as well, but it is such a niche product they probably aren’t going to bother advertising it. As someone mentioned before, I could ask my server about the restaurant’s policy. (However, this gets into the area of making a long explanation, which is exactly the kind of thing that I want to want having to do at a restaurant).

      Let’s say I add my own True Lime to a Diet Coke that I pay for because they don’t have Diet Coke with Lime. Is that being cheap too?

  8. I agree, it does sound like we’re thinking about different things…I was thinking something more like kool-aid. We don’t have True Orange here, but now that I understand it a bit better I’d say that it does sound acceptable. Sorry to jump to conclusions!

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’ve only found True Orange on the Internet. True Lemon and True Lime are available at the military commissary which is how I became familiar with the company at all.

      I should probably note that the True Citrus company isn’t paying me for this post. I feel like I’ve mentioned True Orange enough that if feels like a commercial.

  9. Steve says:

    It seems like this is one of those situations where you’ve already made up your mind (perhaps subconsciously) and are just trying to justify your position.

    I have to admit that, while I wouldn’t do what you are proposing, I have snuck snacks and drinks into a movie theater. In that case I didn’t have the rationale of “they don’t sell it here.” Instead I guess I relied on the software pirate’s manifesto: “I wouldn’t have paid for it anyways.”

    • Lazy Man says:

      I don’t know if I had a moment where I knew my mind was made up, but it’s something that I had been mulling on before I even tried it at the Olive Garden. I can’t speak to any subconscious thoughts, because they are subconscious ;-).

      I think it’s very easy to say, “Outside flavorings are outside flavorings and if you sneak in a pack of lifesavers to have after the meal, you are cheap!” I didn’t want to take that easy way out.

      I thought about bringing up the whole movie theater debate. I remember reading a similar discussion back in 2006 on Five Cent Nickel: Frugal Confession: We Bring Our Own Candy to the Theater. I’ve brought my own healthier-option snacks into a theater, but occasionally buy some candy and popcorn and drinks as well.

  10. JB says:

    I agree with Steve that you seem to have made your mind. Of course this is cheap and tacky and unethical. The reason you want True Orange in your water is because you don’t like regular water. If you were not allowed to use it, you might spring for a soda. By using this flavoring you are depriving the restaurant of a potential sale of a soda. Anytime you do something surreptitiously and don’t want to ask the waiter if you can do that, it not right.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I disagree that having to waiter if you can do something is part of a fair test. I’m not a student in grade asking the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen anyone ask the for permission to do something. That’s just not part of the dining experience that anyone wants to have.

      I think it’s interesting that most people in the Five Cent Nickel article had no problem bringing in their own candy to movie theaters. I think this is many times worse as you are depriving a huge portion of their profits (estimated to be 50% or more, where a soda is just $3 of a $20 meal for an example.) I find the very contrasting opinions interesting.

  11. Steve says:

    Actually, the analogy is fairly apt. Certainly it’s unarguable that the restaurant’s margin on drinks is far higher than their margin on food.

    • Lazy Man says:

      It might be far higher, but I don’t think it is as much of the profits (if that makes sense). It’s been said that theaters don’t make much money from ticket sales themselves. The article I pointed out showed that they do, but I wonder if that all goes to overhead, leaving the only profits on concessions. If a restaurant is depending on me ordering soda to stay in business, they are probably doing something really, really wrong. You can look at restaurants that exist pretty well on almost solely take-out alone (or delivery like Domino’s Pizza) which probably do very little in drink sales.

      (I write all this with regard to soda. Bringing alcohol into the mix is another beast entirely. I don’t think anyone is going to say that using True Orange is stealing away a sale of a glass of wine from the restaurant.)

      And if the analogy is apt, why is it that everyone seems to have no problem being unethical to the movie theaters (using the previously cited article’s comments), but not restaurants?

  12. Big-D says:

    The answer is simple, you are being cheap. You are modifying an existing free product to something else which is not for sale/on the menu. Now I don’t see anything wrong with it (BTW – I love the dark cherry limeade .. wish they sold those in bulk :( ….

    The funny thing that I see is this: Our culture has come to expect that “water is free” at restaurants. In many other countries, you pay for water at the table, which is why they drink wine or beer more frequently as why drink water for $1 when a beer is $2 (exchange rate). If I were running a restaurant, I would have all “soft” drinks the same price, which would include filtered water (like in a Britta filter, but restaurant scaled), brewed ice tea, and soda. Then that gives no one the excuse to do anything else, they can complain about what fruit they want (cherries, oranges, lemons, etc.) and free refills and they can do what ever they want to the drinks to make them what they want. If they want to bring a true orange or 5 in, they can. I won’t complain, they paid for my servers time. BTW – I think soda prices are out of control ($2.49 for a soda is ridiculous when it costs them $0.03 per cup for syrup). It would be something like $1.50 for everything and be done with it (something to make a profit, and something to keep the prices down).

    • Lazy Man says:

      Here’s another thought on the movie theater thing that I just had. If you were to bring in a mint with you after dinner and had that during the movie, is that being cheap? I think that’s a similar analogy as it isn’t like bringing a candy bar, which is exactly what they sell and clearly a food. It isn’t the same as bringing a small amount of flavoring that is very, very similar to what they give for free.

      I decided not to get into the “water is free” culture other than to say it would be like charging to use the restroom. In some countries, neither is free. I felt like we had enough complexity in discussing the US that I wouldn’t bring an international flavor to it.

      I agree with you Big-D that the soda prices nowadays are out of control. Maybe it’s that I’ve got Subway’s $5 Footlong song in my head, but it’s hard for me not to think, “The price of this soda is essentially half a sub.”

  13. Big-D says:

    Ohhh lord, don’t bring the movie industry into this, as that is another whole thing. After doing a business plan to start-up a movie theater, I decided there was no way I would get into that industry as on any “first run” film, you get zero of the ticket take, and a majority of the time, you have to PAY to get the movie. For example, the Avengers last summer, theaters had to pay $150k, per screen, for the rights to show the film, plus 100% of the gross ticket takes to the studio for the first two weeks. 100% of their revenue came from concession sales. Don’t even get me started on the change to digital projectors to limit “second run” theaters, and other things.

    As for the after dinner mint bringing that into the theater, that is almost not worth any mentioning. The reason is that there is no reason to believe that bringing a mint would stop you from doing something else at the theater. I feel zero guilt when I bring candy into a movie theater. Not because I don’t feel for the movie theater, but because I am paying for an experience, and the cost/benefit ration goes way down if I have to spend $8.00 for a small popcorn and drink. A thing of reeces is $4.00 at our local theater and I can get a bigger bat at Kroger for a buck and I am happy. I don’t bring gallon sized big gulps in either. It is a matter of your personal experience at the theater

    As for your comment about Domino’s, while they don’t make much on drink sales, it is all icing on the cake as well. If you look honestly at a pizza from Domino’s, you are paying for convenience. A pizza is flour, oil, water, yeast, pizza sauce, cheese, what ever toppings you want, and $0.20 for electricity to cook it. If you honestly look at it it might cost you as a home person, $3.00 to make it since you don’t get the benefit of bulk buying as Domino’s does. They spend, on average, $1.25-$2.00 for a large with 8 toppings due to bulk savings. So the rest goes to pay fixed cost and overhead.

    As for subway, I don’t eat there anymore. I remember the cost of a sub in high school (and college) was $5 for a sub and chips and a drink. Then now the price of drinks and what not have made it so you get the crappy subs for $5 and it is almost $8 for chips and a drink with one of those. I get a club when I go there, and that is considered a “premium” sub. Sorry, you put less on there than you used to, and I know stuff costs more now, but how have other restaurants kept up with keeping their prices low?

    Now to wrap all this up, The simple fact of the matter is that yes you are being cheap, but who gives a flying fart? I have found over the MANY years of my life that I can care less what others think of me, and that I will do what is best for me (because society in general does not give a crap what I do to myself). I want to retire from the daily grind by 45, I want to own a small estate in the Pacific Northwest, and I want to get my PhD. For me to do those things, I have specific financial goals I have to hit, and as long as I am doing nothing illegal or immoral (defined biblicaly, not socially), I see nothing wrong with doing what I have to do to get it. [Editor’s Note: I’m bolding this because I love it.]

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’m going to not respond to the movie theater pricing stuff. It’s awesomely interesting, but I don’t have anything to add.

      This was the point I was trying to make: “As for the after dinner mint bringing that into the theater, that is almost not worth any mentioning. The reason is that there is no reason to believe that bringing a mint would stop you from doing something else at the theater.” I think if someone was sucking on a mint for a couple of hours they would be less likely to buy a giant Kit Kat bar. I put True Orange into the category of almost not worth any mentioning for the same reason. Maybe people consider it stealing a sale of a beverage because of the context of this site and how I framed it in the article. However, I originally had this idea from perspective trying to be healthier and find a way to get myself to drink more water without artificial sweeteners and the like. Thus from that view, it could be seen as it not stealing a soda as I wouldn’t have bought that anyway (cue the aforementioned software pirate’s motto).

      And just to blow everyone’s mind… What if I bring in a empty cup for tap water into a movie theater (you can do this, I’ve checked) and added True Orange to that? Isn’t that stealing a potential beverage sale from the theater? Is it really any different than the mint? If so, why?

      The reason why I brought up Domino’s is because I know their margins on pizza. I used to work at a pizza chain in the New England area (Papa Gino’s), where I first learned about this as a teenager. I wanted to bring it up as an example of a restaurant making plenty of margins on food alone without having to feel robbed if people don’t buy drinks.

      I have the opposite experience at Subway. About 12 years ago, there wasn’t one near me, so I’d go for an occasional treat (sounds weird, now that they are everywhere). The large subs were $8 and remember thinking that is a lot of money. I don’t get chips (a footlong is enough food thanks) and I almost always get take out so I can get a drink at home. For $5, there’s probably not a lot of better fast food options out there. Other restaurants have kept prices low on some products, by upselling others. For example, McDonalds keeps it’s Dollar Menu at a dollar by selling higher margin McCafe’s to subsidize it. They also took out a slice of cheese from the double cheeseburger, which used to be in it, and called it a McDouble, which has only one slice of cheese.

      Big-D, I’m going to put your last paragraph in bold because I loved it.

  14. Steve says:

    I still don’t understand why you don’t just drink the water plain?

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’m not a fan of plain water, Steve. I equate that question to, “Why don’t you just eat your hamburger without ketchup?” or “Why don’t you just drink your coffee black?” You usually make outstanding points, so I feel like I’m missing something in interpreting your comment.

  15. Sean says:

    I appreciate this tip. I have extra amazon giftcard money so I’m ordering some now. For people who eat out for lunch a lot it will add to a lot of savings and you don’t have to order just water all the time to save.

  16. Big-D says:

    Glad you loved the paragraph – I have learned over my many decades and my world travels many different things and am opinionated in different ways than many Americans (I am one BTW). Just funny to see people’s reactions when you go against the grain – lots of people get perplexed.

    Funny – I used to work at Little Caesars (as a shift manager, responsible for ordering and staff, when I was in HS and college). So yeah, I saw the prices as well for stuff. As for the Subway phenomenon, it depends on which part of the country you are from. You are obviously from the east coast, and market penetration of “fast food” chains is a little less up there than out here in the Midwest. I am also older than you, thus my experience goes back a few more years (you young whipper snapper … ;)

    I read all your stuff, but rarely do I comment just because, well, I am typically late to the party because I read mostly on weekends. Good luck on your ongoing financial endeavors, and if you ever want to get in a philosophical discussion, feel free to hit me up (you have my email address). Colts/Pats would be a fun one ;)

  17. Steve says:

    If I was at a restaurant that charged extra for ketchup, I would eat my hamburger without ketchup. If I didn’t want to eat a hamburger without ketchup, and I didn’t want to pay for ketchup, I wouldn’t go out to a place that charged for ketchup.

    I don’t drink a lot of plain water, but I almost always do when I go out to eat, because I’m not willing to pay what they charge for soda. So I would personally consider plain water a reasonable option. I was just inquiring as to why you do not consider that a reasonable alternative.

    I posted about the movie theater snacks not to cause the discussion to go on a tangent, but to show that I am aware that my own habits are inconsistent or even hypocritical. Though I actually haven’t brought food or drink into a movie theater in a couple years; I try to survive on a few sips from the bubbler.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I don’t know of a restaurant that offers True Orange at all, but most offer free lemons. I mentioned that I’m more than happy to pay for it. So I really can’t apply any of your ketchup here. It might be like if a place offered free mustard, but for some reason didn’t have ketchup. It certainly shouldn’t be considered too weird to bring your own in that scenario. In fact, I bet more than a few people would do it, especially if they like the hamburger.

      I think the movie theater snacks was a great parallel.

      I also like that you called it a bubbler. You from New England too?

  18. Vogel says:

    Of course in NYC, all bets are off. Classic!

    • Lazy Man says:

      I have to update my previous disclosure about this not being a promotional post. A representative with True Citrus saw this article and offered me a free product as “thank you” for promoting it. I had no idea it was going to happen, but it’s a very nice gesture. I’ll be taking advantage with some free True Grapefruit. I got a sample in a previous order and when I paired it with my SodaStream it makes something approaching Fresca.

  19. Jessica says:

    As a former waitress? I honestly would not care at all about this. I’m not sure if people are imagining the product correctly, but it’s basically an orange flavored splenda packet (less sweet, but still). The lemon ones are the most ubiquitous, as you’ll usually see them at places that sell tea but don’t want to hassle with fresh lemons.

    Imagine it this way: Let’s say he orders a diet coke. Most soda if it’s a sit down place has free refills, so I might refill a $2 soda twice. If the person tips fairly with today’s standards, I earn an extra $.40 for my trouble. WOW. Similarly, if the person orders something like an iced tea which for a lot of people requires lemons and sugar or splenda I might work harder as a refresh might also require me to get them more lemons or splenda for that $.40. (Let’s not get into the markup on beverages anyway. You guys know how much a tea bag costs retail. You are paying for water that, to the business, costs probably less than a penny for the amount of tea it took to make it.) The argument that a dish must be washed should also be discounted: sit down restaurants usually give everyone water when they come in and then ask them to order drinks on top of that, so you are actually not creating a dish in most cases. Therefore, you are basically bringing your own splenda and lemons to a restaurant for iced tea at a cost of $.40 to me and $.02 to the establishment.

    Now, if they made true wine, true cocktail, or true overpriced dessert i would have convinced you to buy with my powers of persuasion I would write an angry missive to the company, but as it stands I can assure you that no one with a monetary stake in this beverage will care if they even notice. And heck, I’ve seen people put splenda in water without lemons once or twice in my day, so if that doesn’t annoy me I don’t know what will.

  20. Tommy Z says:

    Restaurants and servers should be happy to have your business, which is business they might not otherwise be getting if you had to buy products you did not want to buy. Anything you purchase from a restaurant is a sale they should be thankful for. If you’re not purchasing their beverages, they need to reduce their prices or expand their offerings. I can’t wait for a portable soda stream where I can carbonate my own water in the glass and add my own syrup! :D

  21. Fanny says:

    I’ve brought my own tea bags and asked for hot water. I don’t like their selection of Lipton tea! There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you have a special diet and have to bring your own food. We bring food in a thermos for my daughter because she has multiple food allergies. Can’t trust restaurants with not cross contaminating food! And if we do order for her, very bland food, she won’t eat it. That’s why we cook more at home.

  22. […] nothing more. You can make carbonated water super cheaply. Add a very little bit of juice or True Orange and you've got yourself a beverage that's healthier than 99% of what's out there… tastes great […]

  23. […] mentioned it before, I'm a huge fan of True Citrus, specifically True Orange. When I wrote that article, their public relations person offered to send me a sample of their new […]

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