But what bemused me was the display of two products. Zero Coke, we are told, has zero calories and zero sugar. Diet Coke, on the other hand, has 0 sugar and 0 calories. I don't drink Coke in any form, as you must have gathered by now, but if I was considering it then my dilemma would indeed be grave.
I think it was the Greeks who established that if a = b and b = c then a = c. Now there are some branches of maths, possibly relating to quantum theory, where this is not so and it is the order in which you add things that determines the outcome. We can probably pass over this complication and stick with Pythagoras and his chums. Zero calories = nothing. 0 calories = nothing. What on earth is the difference between these two drinks? Neither contain any calories or sugar. They are both based on the same formula (I assume). Anyway, if they do taste different for some reason, this is not disclosed in the ad which merely informs us about their calorific and sugarific [Is this a word? Ed] contents.
So let's imagine that I did wish to enjoy a cola based soft drink. Say I've been doing a cross country run - in Morocco - during the summer - carrying 30kg of rubble on my back - wearing heavy clothes and boots - through a sandstorm [OK, OK, enough "it's thirsty work" imagery: Ed] and I stagger into a cafe and ask for a cold drink and the owner, resplendent in his robes and fez, gestures toward the cabinet containing two frosted cans. One Zero and one Diet. I'm keen not to intake any more calories or sugar than I have to. Which, gentle reader, do I choose? Or do I just stand there, sweat puddling at my feet and small children gathering at the door with their hands over their mouths, in an agony of indecision. Both will make me happy. The advertiser has told me that. But which is best? I have no idea. Zero in one direction, 0 in the other. Where is Bertrand Russell when you need him?