For These Two Sodaholics, a Big Thirst Never Fizzles Out

updated 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/22/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

The world would never know about Brayden Linden and Susie Katz if the Santa Ana, Calif., couple hadn't shown up with over 1,000 soda bottles and won the $2,500 grand prize in a local recycling contest. Actually, it was no contest. Linden, a film producer, and Katz, a bookkeeper, down 100 two-liter bottles of soda a week, all of it the same brand and flavor—Shasta diet cola. Broken down, that's approximately two quarts every waking hour, 485 ounces each a day and a total of 53 gallons a week—at a cost of about $5,000 per annum. "Until we won the contest, we never really thought about how much we drink," says Katz. "It's just an everyday routine."

Linden, 41, has been drinking Shasta since 1969. Katz, 37, has been a Shastaholic since 1971. Soon after meeting five years ago, Linden went to Katz's home. "When I opened the refrigerator and saw it stocked with Shasta," he recalls, "I said, 'This is it!' It was love at first cola." Married four years (with no kids), the couple maintains a stash of 48 bottles in the garage, with five more chilling in the fridge. Katz keeps an ice bucket by the bed. Linden keeps a portable urinal in his car. They don't worry about the health effects (Dr. David Melchinger of Yale-New Haven Hospital says their habit "is probably not a significant health risk if they eat a balanced diet"), and they even guzzle after sex. "You get thirsty," says Katz.

But the couple's life isn't always such a gas. That $2,500 grand prize, for example, turned out to be 25 $100 gift certificates from Safeway—and Safeway doesn't stock Shasta. "It's a pain," says Katz. "I know they would have to order 300 cases at a time, but I'd buy it from them. If they had Shasta, life would be great." In fact life without Shasta would hardly be worth living. "If I couldn't get it," says Linden, "I'd probably feel that I'd died."

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