Monday, July 20, 2009

Soft drinks in Danish restaurants

I know some readers have been sitting on the edge of their seats for an explanation of why the staff fill soft drinks, rather than the customers, at Danish fast food restaurants (or at least in my sample of one McDonald's in Aarhus).

Some candidates that turn out to be wrong:

1) Denmark does not have a low minimum wage as part of its "flexicurity" labor market scheme.

2) Denmark did not pass a law banning restaurants from having customers fill their own soft drinks, much as some US states do actually have laws that prevent motorists from pumping their own gas, so as to "create jobs".

The explanation suggested to me by frequent-hat-tip-recipient Lars Skipper, which seems quite plausible, is instead that Denmark has a very high tax on sugar (readers will be hitting their heads and shouting "of course" at this point) and so it is too costly to let customers take as much of sugary soft drinks as they want to.