Today for about the 5000th time in my life I was asked “Is Pepsi OK?”, and for once I answered truthfully: “No, it isn’t.” It felt good.

This idea that Coke and Pepsi are somehow interchangeable is one of the most insidious and enduring, if ultimately trivial, lies ever foisted on the naive and trusting American consuming public. Here’s the truth: Coke is a delicious and refreshing beverage, Pepsi a pale and vaguely depressing echo. Pepsi is to Coke as masturbation is to sex. You can get by on it. But it’s not the Real Thing.

I recently promised myself that the next time someone in a restaurant asked me if Pepsi was OK I would say that it wasn’t and storm out, possibly upending a table or two on the way out to emphasize my point. But when it happened today I was on an airplane and walking out was not an option (D.B. Cooper, I am not). And after expressing my displeasure, in my next breath I backtracked and accepted the proferred substitute, desperate for a small hit of sugar and caffeine. Maybe next time.