Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Roses are red / Violets are blue / Sugar is sweet / And so is... WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EATING?
July 13, 2007 3:58 AM   Subscribe

"Splenda's advertising claims that it is 'Made from Sugar, so it Tastes Like Sugar.' What they don't tell you is that Splenda is not natural, it's a chlorinated artificial sweetener." So states The Truth About Splenda, a site devoted to saving us from this chemical menace. But who are the good samaritans behind this truth-telling campaign? Why, none other than the good people of The Sugar Association, who only want to promote the consumption of sugar as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. McNeil Nutritionals, the maker of Splenda, fight backs with SplendaTruth.com.
posted by Faint of Butt (133 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
In case you're wondering where I stand, I think Splenda tastes nasty, but I'm pretty sure it's not poisonous.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:59 AM on July 13, 2007


Nonsense. I've been using Splenda for years, and I'm perfectly Splenda.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:08 AM on July 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


And I, for one, welcome our new Splenda overlords.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:09 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's on now!
posted by danb at 4:11 AM on July 13, 2007


9/11SPLENDATRUTH.ORG

WAKE UP AMERICA
posted by Avenger at 4:11 AM on July 13, 2007 [10 favorites]


Don't forget that Equal has a stake in this game and has sued Splenda for its loss in profits.
posted by scblackman at 4:13 AM on July 13, 2007


"Dude." "Sweet!"

So much for raising cane.
posted by rob511 at 4:16 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of note: "It is manufactured by the selective chlorination of sucrose, in which three of the hydroxyl groups are replaced with chlorine atoms to produce 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside."*

Yummy.
posted by scblackman at 4:17 AM on July 13, 2007


i for one welcome our new galactopyranosidian overlords.
posted by quonsar at 4:21 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can find galactopyranocide .. wait a minute, "galacto?" "pyrano?" "Pyranocide?" whatthefuck is this stuff?

Will it shoot me, flaming, out of a galaxy and then kill me?
posted by From Bklyn at 4:37 AM on July 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


galactopyranocide

That's badass.
posted by dreamsign at 4:38 AM on July 13, 2007


Splenda does not taste as good as sugar, and it definitely won't work in something like iced tea. However, as a substitute for aspartame in diet soft drinks, Splenda RULES.

Splenda-sweetened soft drinks taste so much better than other diet soft drinks, I can't believe the latter are still on the market. There's really no comparison. Seriously, try Coke Zero or Pepsi BlueOne and you'll never go back to the diet versions.
posted by DU at 4:48 AM on July 13, 2007


First of all, GREAT title.

Secondly, real, natural cane sugar, in moderate amounts, isn't bad for you. But there's the rub: moderate amounts, something USians aren't really know for. If we'd cut back to one real-sugar-laden soda every couple of days, we wouldn't have to worry about a compound "manufactured by the selective chlorination of sucrose, in which three of the hydroxyl groups are replaced with chlorine atoms to produce 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside."
posted by John of Michigan at 5:00 AM on July 13, 2007


Are there any real-(cane)-sugar-laden sodas anymore? I mean among the big producers, not that Mexican grapefruit pop people go ape over. I thought they were all using high-fructose corn syrup, which is, of course, from the devil.

In recent years, didn't Pepsi or Coke put out one big lot of pop with cane sugar once a year, with a different colored cap?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:11 AM on July 13, 2007


Everyone knows chloride is poisonous. Damn you, chloride!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:18 AM on July 13, 2007


When does Xenu show up?
Are there volcanoes involved in the making of Splenda?
posted by willmize at 5:20 AM on July 13, 2007


All soda here is cane. I suppose it's because they grow cane here in South Africa. You know, I bet Cuba would sell the States some cane sugar! Then everyone could be happy!

Oh, so sorry. The govmint says you can't buy stuff from Cuba. Something about communism? WTF is China, Christian Capitalist? Oh well. Rah rah rah, USA! USA!

Special thing about Splenda, you can also bake with it. None of the others can do that, due to the heat.
posted by Goofyy at 5:22 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


galactöpyranöside.

There. Now it's badass.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:23 AM on July 13, 2007 [17 favorites]


FelliniBlank: Yeah, around Passover, in some areas, you can get the real sugar versions (corn isn't kosher for Passover.)

I went to grad school and inexplicably hung around a bunch of chemists, who wouldn't touch Splenda. After poking around all the studies I could find in Pubmed and similar places, I ended up just buying a box of saccharine and cutting way down on soda. Now I'm a seltzer junkie.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:23 AM on July 13, 2007


I had splenda in my coffee this morning, with sugar on my oatmeal. I think there is room for both!

I buy Splenda in the bulk package. I stir it into my tea and it's fine. That's saying something considering I am a Southern girl and have to have my sweet tea.
posted by konolia at 5:25 AM on July 13, 2007


I don't really eat too much (if any) corn syrup or sugar or any of it, so I'm sure I'm not up on the latest sweets, but can you even get soda made with real, natural cane sugar in most places? I know there's stuff like Boylan's and whatnot, but even in NYC I don't recall seeing it around all that much.
posted by nevercalm at 5:29 AM on July 13, 2007


Teach me to write a comment, get a cup of coffee, then hit "post."
posted by nevercalm at 5:30 AM on July 13, 2007


From what I understand, the Coke (Classic) they sell in Canada is made with regular sugar, not Splenda or HFCS, and I find it tastes no much better, not as thick and syrupy. That said, my Canadian friends go ga-ga over Diet Coke w/Splenda, which is not available to them. When we meet up a couple of times a year, we trade a case or two of mine for theirs, and everyone goes home happy.

And I, for one, welcome our new Mountie overlords.
posted by spinturtle at 5:35 AM on July 13, 2007


FelliniBlank - There's one Dr Pepper plant still using cane sugar. Don't know of any others based in the US, though.
posted by sysinfo at 5:38 AM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ooops. You guys are right. While there is a Dr. Pepper plant in Texas that uses real sugar, and Boylan's, which you can't find everywhere, and some old-school Mexican bottlers that use cane sugar for Coca-Cola, most sodas use high-fructose corn syrup. My mistake and apologies.

Still and all, HFCS still can't be as bad for you as the badass galactöpyranöside.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:45 AM on July 13, 2007


With all the debate about what will kill you and what won't, and scientists seemingly unable to make up their minds (have they picked a position on eggs yet?), I really can't be arsed to care about this. So I'm just going to keep putting Splenda in my coffee and tea until someone proves that it causes testicular shrinkage or cardiac arthritis or something.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:48 AM on July 13, 2007


All soda is made with dihydrous oxide, so you know it HAS to be bad for you, regardless of what sweetener it has.
posted by briank at 5:51 AM on July 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


Splenda is an awfully profitable typo


From splendainfo.com:

In 1976, Splenda (also known by it's generic name "sucralose") was discovered by Tate & Lyle scientists who were working with Q.E. college. More specifically, Splenda was uncovered by scientist Leslie Hough and young Indian scientist/chemist Shashikant Phadnis. The team was working to test various chemical intermdiates, such as chlorinated sugars. Working late into the day, S. Phadnis was asked by his partner to test the powder that they work working with. The young chemist incorrectly thought Ms. Hough told him to taste the powder. Upon putting it on his tongue, he realized the compound was incredibly sweet - as much as 600 sweeter than standard table sugar. After a year of further study with Tate & Lyle, the entire team eventually agreed upon the final formula.
posted by lalochezia at 5:55 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obviously, the analagous story about sarin is a little sadder.
posted by lalochezia at 5:56 AM on July 13, 2007 [11 favorites]


Re: Real cane soda. If you live anywhere in the US where there's a sizable Mexican population, You can usually find Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico at a mexican grocery or taquiera. You can always spot Mexican Coca Cola because of the really beat up glass bottles, which somehow improve the taste.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:56 AM on July 13, 2007


Also, a much better New Yorker article outlining history of splenda with choice quotes from discoverer.
posted by lalochezia at 5:59 AM on July 13, 2007


I had a 60's Life magazine full page informational ad from these guys taped on the refrigerator until it fell apart. It said that your active teen ("...and after school she'll Watusi with the gang...") needs a non-nutritive artificial sweetener "like a turtle needs a seat-belt." Warning to mothers: sugar deficiency will "open the door to dangerous infectious disease."

Tagline: Sugar. Serve some.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:00 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are there any real-(cane)-sugar-laden sodas anymore?

I try to buy only drinks made with sugar. There's a case of Goose Island Root Beer in the fridge (but it's not available everywhere.)
posted by jaronson at 6:00 AM on July 13, 2007


Kosher Coca-Cola uses sugar.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:06 AM on July 13, 2007


I for one, welcome out galactic pirhana overlords, and as a member of metafilter would be of great use in rounding up dissidents for work in their underwater cow skeletonizing plants.
posted by OldReliable at 6:10 AM on July 13, 2007


lalochezia - tasting anything in the lab is poor chemical hygiene. Sure, sometimes it results in the discovery of a new artificial sweetener, but most of the time it just gets you fined when the inspection team notices you doing it.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:12 AM on July 13, 2007


Since I discovered I'm sensitive to the neurotoxin they call aspartame (well, sensitive to a lot of stuff that influences serotonin, such as all opiates), I've avoided everything labeled with "light" or "lite" (now with 30% less letters) as the plague. It makes for a lot of label-reading in the supermarket...

I haven't encountered "Splenda" yet, so it either has a different name here in Europe, or they're not using it yet. I will make sure to avoid it as well...
posted by DreamerFi at 6:19 AM on July 13, 2007


If the sugar people are so pissed off about profits, they should bitch about corn subsidies, not a competing product. If we weren't bailing out farmers in the billions corn syrup wouldn't have become the cheaper and less-healthy alternative to sugar in about 90% of the products sold here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:26 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside!

Yuck, that put me off chemical compounds for good! Henceforth i will only eat substances made from the five elements: fire, water, air, earth and unsubstantiated fear.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 6:29 AM on July 13, 2007 [22 favorites]


Oh, so sorry. The govmint says you can't buy stuff from Cuba. Something about communism? WTF is China, Christian Capitalist? Oh well. Rah rah rah, USA! USA!

US sugar policy is stupid (as is all US agriculture policy), but Cuba has little to do with the rationale. China is the world's #3 producer of cane sugar, and American Coke still uses HFCS.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:30 AM on July 13, 2007


Splenda-sweetened soft drinks taste so much better than other diet soft drinks, I can't believe the latter are still on the market. There's really no comparison. Seriously, try Coke Zero or Pepsi BlueOne and you'll never go back to the diet versions.

People get attached to certain flavors after drinking them for years.

But yeah, the idea that sugar could be more healthy then an alternative is absurd.
posted by delmoi at 6:30 AM on July 13, 2007


DreamerFi: Sucralose-sweetened 'Coca-Cola Light' has been on sale here in Sweden since early last year. Apparently Sweden was the global test market for this particular concoction: I don't know if it's since been introduced elsewhere in Europe or not.
posted by misteraitch at 6:32 AM on July 13, 2007


You can always spot Mexican Coca Cola because of the really beat up glass bottles, which somehow improve the taste.

There's a warehouse grocery store chain here (in Madison, WI) named Woodman's that sells Mexican Coca Cola in their "ethnic" section. We buy a six pack every week or so and have it with the kids in a special dinner. The difference in taste is noticeable, and having a cold bottle of coke on a hot day like when you did as a kid is just fantastic.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:33 AM on July 13, 2007


Why are natural sugar/sweeteners bad for you? Will they make you into a fatty or something? And what's so bad about fatties anyway?

In any case, I'm a "bitter supertaster". In my case, this makes things that taste bitter to most people taste abnormally bitter to me - I've had to acquire a taste for a lot of the bitter things we eat/drink in order to function well.

One thing I never got used to was artificial sweeteners. Equal, Splenda, Saccharin, etc., all have seriously, heinously bitter aftertastes for me.

On the other hand, non-refined-sugar sweeteners taste really good to me. I'm a total ho for molasses, for instance, even though it certainly has some bitter components to its taste.
posted by kalessin at 6:33 AM on July 13, 2007


Splenda sweetens you up for the space cannibals.
posted by doctorschlock at 6:38 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm 99% sure that Canadian Coke Classic uses HFCS...
posted by autodidact at 6:38 AM on July 13, 2007


well, sensitive to a lot of stuff that influences serotonin, such as all opiates

Saying that one is sensitive to stuff that "influences serotonin" is kind of like saying that one is sensitive to stuff that "influences brain chemistry."

That is to say, considering any drug or activity in light of a neurotransmitter doesn't really help paint a picture of what's going on at highly specialized receptors (of which there are several for nearly every NT), which have different effects depending on where they're located in the brain.

Furthermore, opiates do not have a direct, agonist/antagonist effect on serotonergic receptors of any subtype.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:41 AM on July 13, 2007


DreamerFi: In the UK it goes under splenda when you buy it separately (either in small tablets for tea/coffee, or added to bulk dextrose for cooking and sprinkling), or sucralose when in packaged goods.
Sometimes, it shows up as E955 in the ingredients list.

Personally, I find it tastes a damn sight better than aspartame, but I still prefer cane sugar. HFCS hasn't really crossed the pond yet, thank the maker.

Worries about chlorinated organic molecules aside, it's not a million miles from poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) which is used all over your kitchen. Frankly, if 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside in your food worries you, check out of the list of E numbers on any packaged food or drink you buy. Industrial chemistry; its what's for dinner.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:51 AM on July 13, 2007


And like a chump I've been putting straight chlorine in my coffee all these years.
posted by phirleh at 6:52 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kosher Coca-Cola uses sugar.
Not entirely correct; all Coca Cola is kosher, even the stuff with HFCS, but only the "Kosher for Passover" Coke has sugar. Full story here.

They're not big producers but Jones Soda just switched from using HFCS to sugar. and I can find Jarritos at most local grocery stores for about $.75 a bottle The flavors can be funky like most Mexican sodas but they're made with real sugar, except Goya uses HFCS.
posted by Challahtronix at 6:57 AM on July 13, 2007


Of course, drinks with no sweeteners in at all are completely out of the question...
posted by Phanx at 7:17 AM on July 13, 2007


Personally, I think Splenda tastes like a chemical peel off an old hookers face. But as a diabetic my choices for sweet, sweet good food lovin are very limited. Saying fructose is only marginally true. I have been using stevia in liquid form for most of my sweetening needs. It doesn't taste like sugar, but it makes things sweet and is far from the factory nasty flavor of the artificial sweeteners.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:17 AM on July 13, 2007


You know how some people here hate cilantro? That is how much I hate artificial sweetener.
posted by casarkos at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2007


Also, I envy you people with access to Goose Island so much.
posted by casarkos at 7:24 AM on July 13, 2007


Wow, people are afraid of it because the systemic name is long and complicated. Well, you go back to enjoying your α-D-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-D-fructofuranose (aka sucrose or cane sugar). Its name is much less complicated so it must be better for you!
posted by grouse at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2007 [13 favorites]


Sugar tastes awesome; Artificial Sweetner, not so much. I feel sorry for people that can't eat sugar.
posted by chunking express at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2007


Splenda-sweetened soft drinks taste so much better ... Seriously, try Coke Zero

Coke Zero has aspartame and acesulfame potassium, and does not have splenda. It is, however, a zillion times better than diet coke, and about as good as diet-coke-with-splenda.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:31 AM on July 13, 2007


The problem with most real-sugar sodas is that they don't contain caffeine. Because experiments with dissolving No-Doze into my 365 Everyday Cola real-sugar soda were not successful, I'll stick with HFCS until they realize that there are varying degrees of health nut.
posted by goatdog at 7:32 AM on July 13, 2007


ArkhanJG writes "check out of the list of E numbers on any packaged food or drink you buy"

What does "E numbers" mean? Do I have to be a chemist to understand that?
posted by krinklyfig at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2007



High fructose corn syrup is used in pop un the US for one reason: it's cheap. It's cheap because it's subsidized by the Farm Bill. Cane or beet sugar isn't. Simple as that.

The importance of the farm bill in not just politics but everyday life is huge.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


DU writes "Splenda-sweetened soft drinks taste so much better than other diet soft drinks, I can't believe the latter are still on the market. There's really no comparison. Seriously, try Coke Zero or Pepsi BlueOne and you'll never go back to the diet versions."

Remember New Coke? And TaB? People get attached to the current taste and changing that can be dangerous.
posted by Mitheral at 7:40 AM on July 13, 2007


Surprised no one mentioned how often people get horrific flatulence and diarrhea that consume this stuff. Most people don't even connect their symptoms with the stuff.
posted by docpops at 7:40 AM on July 13, 2007


Goatdog: United Nuclear will sell you 8oz of USP caffeine for US$16. If you toss 150mg in each soda, that much caffeine will take care of about 1500 servings of soda.
posted by c0nsumer at 7:45 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


People are afraid of it because it's bristling with halogens. Aren't chlorocarbons generally very toxic? CCl4, anyone?

I suspect that one reason this isn't poisoning people outright is because it doesn't penetrate the intestinal membrane in dangerous quantities. That's probably the same reason it doesn't count for calories or fat - your body excretes it without breaking it down.

For those few errant splendas that do hop the fence and make it into the blood, though, I'd hate to see what the products of oxidation look like.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:46 AM on July 13, 2007


I am sitting here with my nice Canadian Coke Classic in front of me. Ingredients:
Carbonated Water, Sugar/Glucose Fructose, Caramel Colour, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavours, Caffeine.
That has been the list for quite some time. They have the decency to spell 'colour' correctly. From the nutrition information, the can (355 ml) has 42g of sugars, making up all the carb content and will make up 14% of your daily intake of carbs. By my observation of what most people consider 'healthy', it is fat free therefore completely healthy. Mind you, most people don't seem to have the first clue about diet.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:48 AM on July 13, 2007


lalochezia:
"Test? I thought you said taste! Oh, what a silly, fortuitous error!"

I don't know, sounds a bit fishy doesn't it? It sounds exactly what someone would say if they were trying to cover up that they were taste-testing random chemicals. Maybe I'm just cynical though.
posted by JHarris at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2007


What does "E numbers" mean? Do I have to be a chemist to understand that?

No, but using a search engine would help. It's a system of classifying common food additives used in many developed, yet non-U.S. countries.
posted by grouse at 7:54 AM on July 13, 2007


JHarris: Once when studying procrastinating in the University of Texas Chemistry Library, I picked up a monograph on discovery of artificial sweeteners. The foreword was written by an elder of the field who wrote that back in the good old days, organic chemists tasted every chemical they made. It was considered a crucial form of observation along with sight and smell. So back then, discovering artificial sweeteners was not something you set out to do—it just happened while you were doing something else.

The chemist noted with sadness that we now have to put much effort into discovery that wasn't previously necessary.
posted by grouse at 8:02 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can have my old-school, aspartamey, probably-secret-evil-twin-growing, clearly-addictive Original Diet Coke when you pry it from my cold, dead, possibly-genetically-mutated hands.
posted by mckenney at 8:02 AM on July 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


I am sitting here with my nice Canadian Coke Classic in front of me. Ingredients:

Carbonated Water, Sugar/Glucose Fructose, Caramel Colour, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavours, Caffeine.


Much as I hate to break it to my fellow Canadians who seem to think that there's no HFCS in Canada, in Canada, High-Fructose Corn Syrup is called "Glucose-Fructose" on food labels.
posted by biscotti at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2007


WholeFoods 365-whatever sodas rock. Sugar not HFCS, no preservatives whatsoever, tastes great. So I have to schlep it back to queens on the train, it's worth it.
posted by Skorgu at 8:16 AM on July 13, 2007


This is one of those cases where I'm surprised anyone is surprised. Remember the HILARIOUS Olestra disaster from a few years back? Artificial fat was gonna make our potato chips safe and healthy and delicious, so eat all you want, America! Then reports started rolling in about this massive diarrhea epidemic, on account of how Olestra coated and greased everyone's intestines.

The lesson then, as it is now, is that some things we eat are bad for us - but trying to concoct a fake-ass, "healthy" version is alwys worse.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:23 AM on July 13, 2007


E Numbers
posted by boo_radley at 8:24 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Goatdog: United Nuclear will sell you 8oz of USP caffeine for US$16. If you toss 150mg in each soda, that much caffeine will take care of about 1500 servings of soda.
posted by c0nsumer at 10:45 AM on July 13 [-] [!]


That is the awesomest website ever!
You can buy Thermite! Thermite! Uranium! Uranium!
posted by yeoz at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2007


The lesson then, as it is now, is that some things we eat are bad for us - but trying to concoct a fake-ass, "healthy" version is alwys worse.

Why would you conclude that now? Because sucralose has a long systemic name? Because sugar manufacturers would prefer that you eat their product instead?

It's certainly impossible to generalize that into a rule that using technology to make foods healthier always backfires. That's ridiculous. Some successes that immediately come to mind are iodized salt, enriched flour, and fortified milk.
posted by grouse at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I use sugar instead of artificial sweeteners in everything but cold beverages like iced tea because sugar doesn't dissolve in cold water, and I'm too darn lazy to heat up the tea first.

We had a carton of Splenda-sweetened frozen yogurt once, and every time I ate some of it, I got a pounding headache. Not brain-freeze, mind you. I tried non-Splenda-sweetened from the same brand and never got a headache. So, I'm thinking maybe Splenda's not for me.

Then again, the Splenda-sweetened frozen yogurt might have secretly been manufactured by sugar farmers to scare me away.
posted by katillathehun at 8:40 AM on July 13, 2007


Oh, never mind. It was just my brain splitting in two because SPLENDA CAN MAKE YOU PSYCHOTIC. Psycho, people. Qu'est-ce que c'est. I trust anything I read from foodcanmakeyouill.co.uk.
posted by katillathehun at 8:45 AM on July 13, 2007


Some successes that immediately come to mind are iodized salt, enriched flour, and fortified milk.

True, but I wouldn't call those foods "fake-ass". They're not replacements, but enriched or fortified products.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well "fake-ass" isn't exactly a scientific term, so please excuse me if I misinterpreted it. I have a hard enough time figuring out a sensible objective definition for "natural" that can embody all of the sometimes contradictory meanings people use it for.

Does golden rice count as "fake-ass?" Even if not, I still wouldn't agree with EatTheWeek's apparent conclusion that consumption of other artificial sweeteners is necessarily worse than the sugar products they're replacing.
posted by grouse at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2007


Splenda's a god-sent for diabetics, which apparently noone in this thread heretofore is, if sweetening your drinks is all you can think about. It's brought ice cream, cheesecake, cookies and that lot back into my father-not-in-law's life.

I seriously worship at the temple of splenda for that. Diabetes is a bitch. God looks down and goes "Oh, hey, yeah you like cookies? They're so good, right? Your favorite? Oh okay well NO COOKIES FOR YOU. LOL."

No one I know has any problem with the taste, although I can tell the difference if I concentrate or if you give me five minutes to notice my lack of buzz.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


galactopyranocide

I'm pretty sure that word means killing a space dinosaur with a flame thrower.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


solipsophistocracy: I know what you are saying is true, but if I were to write down the long list of things that influence me, and how, and in what way I'm watching what goes into my body, all in a post in this thread, it would be a derail and a very, very long one.

Perhaps one day I'll write it all down and make a post about it. In the mean time: you are correct, and my summary was way, way too short.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2007


grouse writes "The chemist noted with sadness that we now have to put much effort into discovery that wasn't previously necessary."

Of course we probably have more organic chemists making it to elder status.
posted by Mitheral at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2007


People are afraid of it because it's bristling with halogens.

Personally, I'd take this self-interested scare-mongering by the sugar industry with a large pinch of sodium chloride. Preferably iodised...

The biggest irony in all of this is that the company that invented Splenda, Tate & Lyle, is the biggest sugar corporation in the world, and that the whole purpose of it is to use their own sugar, altered in the form of Splenda, to recover market share from other artificial sweeteners. I expect that the very day that Tate & Lyle's patent expires, the good people of the Sugar Association will suddenly discover that 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside isn't such a bad thing after all...
posted by Skeptic at 9:41 AM on July 13, 2007


Does golden rice count as "fake-ass?" Even if not, I still wouldn't agree with EatTheWeek's apparent conclusion that consumption of other artificial sweeteners is necessarily worse than the sugar products they're replacing.

I am neither disagreeing nor agreeing with either your or EatTheWeak's assertions; just pointing out that enriched foods are not analogous to food substitutes. Enriched flour and iodized salt came about because people were suffering from malnutrition; I don't think Splenda or Olestra are really driven by anything but the need to sell more product to people who already have poor eating habits. Diabetics benefit from sugar substitutes, and that's a good thing; however, having to eliminate sugar from one's diet for health reasons is possible without sugar substitutes.

Note that I am not equating diabetics with people who eat poorly; I'm saying that substitute food production is commerce driven, not health driven. Nor do I consider golden rice a "substitute" food.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:46 AM on July 13, 2007


Enriched flour and iodized salt came about because people were suffering from malnutrition; I don't think Splenda or Olestra are really driven by anything but the need to sell more product to people who already have poor eating habits.

The profit motive guides commercial decisions in our world. Since there is no legislation requiring the enrichment of flour or iodizing of salt, the only reason manufacturers do it is because they think they can make more money that way.

So what are "substitute foods" (which is probably a better term than "fake-ass")? Just Olestra and artificial sweeteners? Anything else?
posted by grouse at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2007


Diabetics benefit from sugar substitutes, and that's a good thing; however, having to eliminate sugar from one's diet for health reasons is possible without sugar substitutes.

oneirodynia: "Possible," in my opinion, is no way to live. Father-not-in-law gets cranky and blue seeing all the pies in the diner and not getting to have any, ever. I would too. It's awful. Splenda improves quality of life for diabetics who like sweets. Period.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


In my house: decaf.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2007


(sorry, that was @ grouse)
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2007


Perhaps margarine?

In America, at least, iodized salt acceptance was pioneered by a pediatrician. You're right, it's not legislated, but I don't think the widespread prevalence of iodized salt is due to profit margins, because I don't think American consumers think twice about whether or not their salt says "iodized" on the label. Iodized salt became an industry standard for health reasons.

Ambrosia Voyeur: "Quality of Life" being subjective, of course. My point is that no one needs Splenda to be healthy in the same way they need iodized salt to not have goiter or birth defects. You'll note that I said "Diabetics benefit from sugar substitutes, and that's a good thing", so there's no need to get defensive. I know several diabetics: some have simply given up all sugar and sweeteners and are quite happy and healthy; others use sugar replacements and are also happy and healthy. Hence, the subjectivity.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:16 AM on July 13, 2007


I don't think American consumers think twice about whether or not their salt says "iodized" on the label.

I think they would if the manufacturers of iodized salt launched a marketing campaign. Which they surely would if a large manufacturer tried to stop iodizing their mass-market salt. Instant competitive advantage.

My point is that no one needs Splenda to be healthy in the same way they need iodized salt to not have goiter or birth defects.

You don't need to have iodized salt to avoid goiter. You can get iodine in your diet in totally "natural" ways, such as eating more seafood and seaweed, and vegetables with more natural iodine. It's only because people have an unhealthy lack of natural seaweed in their diet that artificial iodization of salt is necessary.
posted by grouse at 10:29 AM on July 13, 2007


You don't need to have iodized salt to avoid goiter. You can get iodine in your diet in totally "natural" ways, such as eating more seafood and seaweed, and vegetables with more natural iodine. It's only because people have an unhealthy lack of natural seaweed in their diet that artificial iodization of salt is necessary.

Most people get iodine through cow's milk, because iodine is fed to cows, and used as an antiseptic in industrial farming.

This is why vegans should use iodised salt.
posted by humblepigeon at 10:34 AM on July 13, 2007


Which they surely would if a large manufacturer tried to stop iodizing their mass-market salt. Instant competitive advantage.

It's not a competitive advantage if the competitors can do it too.

/pedant
posted by Kwantsar at 10:43 AM on July 13, 2007


oneirodynia: The thing is, a lot of sugar really is bad for you while a lot of splenda is not, at least not to the same extent, so replacing sugar with splenda really is an improvement.

Saying people shouldn't eat splenda enriched foods is like saying people shouldn't have sex with a condom, rather they should avoid sex entirely.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Most of that unhealthy lack of iodine is due to not being anywhere near the sea. The central US had a significant problem with iodine deficiency issues. Perhaps that could be solved now that we have better refrigeration and transportation issues; but ultimately the point of my argument is that iodine is necessary for human physical health, sugar substitutes are not.

Now, I'm going to go to work.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2007


biscottiMuch as I hate to break it to my fellow Canadians who seem to think that there's no HFCS in Canada, in Canada, High-Fructose Corn Syrup is called "Glucose-Fructose" on food labels.

I looked into this a fair bit a while back. There are a whole variety of ways to modify sugar, and a whole variety of ways to state, and quite a few ways to get to the same end. Although they vary some, most of the modified sugars share some negative effects, like failing to satiate hunger or even the sweetness impulse. I notice some of the terms for various mods have fallen out of service; for example, I haven't seen "inverted sugar" in a while.

For the most part, if you eat a processed "food" (product would be a better description), there is a very very good chance you are consuming some kind of modified sugar, or if you insist on avoiding that, some kind of sweetening agent that isn't sugar. If you don't like it, you have to take it to the manufacturer and, in the mean-time, process your own food.

I am convinced that modified sugars are probably not a good idea, but remain unconvinced they are as evil as they are made out to be. Many of the reports border on hysteria. Mind you, I still avoid it, but I also avoid processed foods in general to the extent I feel is practical.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:45 AM on July 13, 2007


Be afraid, be very, very afraid. Splenda will do terrible things to you, and so will Equal, and so will al Qaeda.

(this message brought to you by the Sugar Association)
posted by caddis at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, FFS, Delmoi, I have not ever said that people should not eat Splenda. I really could care less about what people choose to eat. I have also NOT said that Splenda is a bad thing.

It seems my fate on MeFI this week is to be constantly misunderstood. Must be Mercury retrograde*.

*joke; metatalk readers, for the benefit of**

** covering my ass before people get ruffled
posted by oneirodynia at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not a competitive advantage if the competitors can do it too.

It's a competitive advantage if the competitors refuse to do it.

iodine is necessary for human physical health, sugar substitutes are not.

You are cutting a fine distinction. A lack of iodine is detrimental to human health just as overconsumption of sugar. You can attack either one by making different dietary choices, or by using modern technology.
posted by grouse at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2007


That is the awesomest website ever!
You can buy Thermite! Thermite! Uranium! Uranium!


It's true. But look at how surprising it is that you're even allowed to own simple chemicals and reagents for the purpose of scientific curiosity - we're so used to government slapping our hands away. In 2006, the owners of United Nuclear were arrested by federal agents for selling "materials which could be used to make fireworks. (Wired)"
posted by kid ichorous at 10:59 AM on July 13, 2007


delmoi: I apologize for my rude response. Feeling like I'm being regularly misunderstood by a number of Mefites who I normally slot into the calm, sensible, and rational category is making me seriously doubt my communication skills. Having to refute comments or insinuations I haven't made at all is just the tick flavored, Splenda enhanced icing on the hairball cake. I'm sorry my frustrations came out in a comment directed out you.

I am really going to work now.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:02 AM on July 13, 2007


Coke is test-marketing "Diet Coke with Splenda" in Berkeley. I brough some in to work and we did a blind taste test comparison between this and normal Diet Coke.

Everyone could taste a difference, but 2/3rds of the group preferred the old Diet Coke.

I prefer the new one, but I also note that it is a different formulation (I can tell because the stated caffeine content was different).

Diet Coke with Splenda tastes more like Coke Classic - deeper and perhaps bitterer than normal Diet Coke.
posted by zippy at 12:14 PM on July 13, 2007


"I use sugar instead of artificial sweeteners in everything but cold beverages like iced tea because sugar doesn't dissolve in cold water, and I'm too darn lazy to heat up the tea first. "


Option 1: Take a cupful of tea and heat in microwave, or in pan on stove - dissolve sugar in said hot cup of tea, then mix into the big batch. Easiest way to get sugar dissolved.

Option 2: Simple syrup/ bar syrup

Sugar in pourable, easily dissolvable form!


I'm a fan of Lyle's Golden myself...
posted by stenseng at 12:32 PM on July 13, 2007


[sigh] I miss cyclamates.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:34 PM on July 13, 2007


Splenda does not taste as good as sugar, and it definitely won't work in something like iced tea.

Absolute rubbish. I am drinking a large iced tea right at this very moment with 3 packets of Splenda in it. It tastes quite delicious. In fact, real sugar tastes kind of funky to me now. It's too "heavy" for my tastes.

And that anti-Splenda website is a joke. Comments from people like "I have diabetes, but now that I know Splenda isnt 'natural', I'm going to go back to using sugar." Good freakin' grief.

It's nothing but FUD. They make it sound like if you put Splenda in your drink, you might as well be chugging down a glass of Clorox.

And of course the Nutrasweet folks are pissed about Splenda. They've lost a huge amount of business because aspartame does unquestionably taste like shit. Not to mention that if you're young and have Phenylketonuria, too much aspartame will turn your brain to cabbage.
posted by mstefan at 12:39 PM on July 13, 2007


Oh, and two more gems from the "Truth About Splenda" site:

I do not wish to put another chemical in my body.

I am shocked to discover that something I thought safe to ingest, (Splenda) is made from chlorine!!

Oh my god! Chlorine! Holy crap, I mean, nothing that we eat naturally contains chlorine! What are they doing, do they want to kill us all!?! Oh, wait...

Every single one of the posters on their little comment section of their site reads like they're on the left hand side of the bell curve.
posted by mstefan at 12:47 PM on July 13, 2007


*shrug* Fuck splenda. Fuck aspertame. Fuck refined sugar. We were better off without it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:08 PM on July 13, 2007


That's not the worst of it -
You know that splenda is made by orphans, don't you? They're the only ones they could get to make the stuff, it's so noxious. At the splenda factory they have these big vats of galactopsychopyrophantacide (sp?) and the orphans have to wade through it in bare feet while the supervisors pour in barely sufficiently diluted chlorine. Then when that's all mixed together all the rest of the stuff they make it with gets poured in until the orphans are all up to their armpits in it, wading around these big stainless-steel vats. They have little songs that they sing, while they're working, but you generally can't hear them over the crying.

And the orphans? The orphans? They only get, like, twenty minutes off for lunch and to drink they only ever have diet sodas. Yeah, that's right, no bathroom breaks. Toiling in those vats day in, day out.
Just think about that, next time you reach for that little yellow (?) packet. Orphan pee.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:22 PM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've only had splenda once and that was enough. Disgusting.

From what I've heard about people who have quit smoking, I think giving up sweetened foods would have a similar result: suddenly you can taste your food (and taste things that shouldn't be in it).

I stopped drinking Ocean Spray cranberry "juice" a long time ago and a little while afterwards I started noticing that stuff with corn syrup in it actually tasted kinda like corn. Corn!!! Why on earth should fruit "juice" taste like corn??? SO nasty.
posted by bigtex at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2007


Stevia is a good, good thing.
Carry on.
posted by dbiedny at 2:00 PM on July 13, 2007


dbiedny: "Stevia is a good, good thing."

From the New Yorker Article that was linked above:
"Worst of all were the sweeteners found in health-food stores. Stevia, made from a South American shrub of the same name, seemed to combine all the failings of its artificial cousins: slow onset, heavy aftertaste, bitterness, and other disagreeable flavors."
Gentlemen, it seems we are not all in agreement.
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:29 PM on July 13, 2007


Stevia is simply horrid. If you're looking to get your sweet on, it is definitely not a product that you should try. At the point where you actually get to the point where your beverage or food tastes sweet, this obnoxious, bitter aftertaste kicks in. Imagine saccharine, on steriods.

It's foul. Just say no, and let the shrubbery live.
posted by mstefan at 2:54 PM on July 13, 2007


Soylent Green is Splenda!!!
posted by paddbear at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2007


Walker told me I have 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside.
posted by goatdog at 4:38 PM on July 13, 2007


If you want, you can grow your own stevia.
posted by pwb503 at 5:22 PM on July 13, 2007


grouse writes "No, but using a search engine would help."

I'm sure it would. Sorry, but it was early when I posted, and I'm never good in the morning.

"It's a system of classifying common food additives used in many developed, yet non-U.S. countries."

Thanks. That's much more helpful, even if I failed the Internets.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2007


this is how we roll...

Well this how we gonna do this
Fuck Splenda
Fuck Sugar
Fuck sweeteners full of shit that fuck us up
and as a motherfuckin industry
And if you wanna be down with the 'Sweetener Industry'
Then fuck you too
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 PM on July 13, 2007


OMG teh chlorine!! Don't want that in my body.

The sugar industry isn't the only one pushing this fear about "artificial" food additives. Many in the green movement have this attitude that if it's not natural, it's not good for you.

Part of me wonders if the point kid ichorous brought up above doesn't have something to do with this. Without a basic understanding of chemistry and science, propaganda like this will continue to work.
posted by formless at 10:37 PM on July 13, 2007


A lot of brilliant logic in this thread. "Only idiots think all chemicals are bad for you, therefore no chemical can possibly be bad for you." Fine, sweeten your tea with Zyklon-B if you feel that way.

These "voice of reason" types are making empty-headed generalizations at least as serious as those they're (to a great extent, falsely) attributing to others. Here's a hint: if your point is against a straw man it's not worth making.

If people aren't particularly persuaded of the safety of a completely unnecessary product that's apparently only been tested by the company that produces it, it's certainly their prerogative not to consume it. But you can stuff whatever you want in your mouth, knock yourself out.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:27 AM on July 14, 2007


George_Spiggott:
"Only idiots think all chemicals are bad for you, therefore no chemical can possibly be bad for you." Fine, sweeten your tea with Zyklon-B if you feel that way.

[...]

Here's a hint: if your point is against a straw man it's not worth making.
Good advice. Maybe you should consider practicing it.
posted by grouse at 3:33 AM on July 14, 2007


Are there any real-(cane)-sugar-laden sodas anymore?

Parts of the south have Dr. Enuf, one of my favourite ever soft-drinks. I used to carry this stuff by the crateload to South Carolina while in college. Sadly it's a little harder now, getting it to Scotland. Now I have Irn-Bru, also with real cane sugar!
posted by ukdanae at 5:07 AM on July 14, 2007


Are there any real-(cane)-sugar-laden sodas anymore?

Well, there's Dublin Dr Pepper.
posted by grouse at 6:19 AM on July 14, 2007


I can taste the artificiality of er, artificial sweeteners. Stevia on the other hand tastes nice. I like lemonade made with stevia.
posted by asok at 6:54 AM on July 14, 2007


Diabetics benefit from sugar substitutes, and that's a good thing; however, having to eliminate sugar from one's diet for health reasons is possible without sugar substitutes.

oneirodynia: "Possible," in my opinion, is no way to live. Father-not-in-law gets cranky and blue seeing all the pies in the diner and not getting to have any, ever. I would too. It's awful. Splenda improves quality of life for diabetics who like sweets. Period.


As the husband of a wife with diabetes, and with a best friend who has admirably done a nutritional 180 after he was diagnosed, I agree.

ukdane:

Thank you for that link! I used to get cases of the stuff back when thinkgeek sold it.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:58 AM on July 14, 2007


I like honey.
posted by koeselitz at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2007


Seriously, try Coke Zero

Coke Zero is made with aspartame, not sucralose.

From what I understand, the Coke (Classic) they sell in Canada is made with regular sugar

I'm not sure what glucose-fructose is, exactly, but unless it's a fancy name for sucrose, it's not cane sugar.

They have the decency to spell 'colour' correctly.

You're wrong about that.

And of course the Nutrasweet folks are pissed about Splenda. They've lost a huge amount of business because aspartame does unquestionably taste like shit.

Aspartame is way better than saccharine, though. Way better.
posted by oaf at 1:26 PM on July 14, 2007


Stevia rocks for cleaning up bad breath. As a sugar impostor, it's awful. It grows pretty nicely in a backyard, though.

The thing I don't like about Splenda is that it employs a kind of HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO philosophy. Instead of having to choose "Cookie or cake?", Splenda's reply is "COOKIE AND CAKE!". It's terrible conditioning for a society hellbent on adding as many preservatives as it can to it's food supply.

I'm sure consuming Splenda in mass quantaties- as Diet Coke-heads are want to do- is bad for you. Does that make Splenda inherently terrible? No way. Salt is "natural", but enough of it will do you in.

As for the diabetics among us, treat Splenda like you would sugar. I just wish the rest of America would stop treating it like a Free Pass.
posted by GilloD at 1:58 PM on July 14, 2007


The thing I don't like about Splenda is that it employs a kind of HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO philosophy.

Yeah, that philosophy really doesn't jive well with Puritanism. But fuck Puritanism.

I'm sure consuming Splenda in mass quantaties- as Diet Coke-heads are want to do- is bad for you.

Do you have any evidence for this? Or is it just a knee-jerk response?

As for the diabetics among us, treat Splenda like you would sugar.

That makes no sense. Too much sucrose will kill a diabetic, and the same amount of sucralose will not.
posted by grouse at 3:05 PM on July 14, 2007


George_Spiggott writes "Fine, sweeten your tea with Zyklon-B if you feel that way"

Geez, at least pick a poison that is sweet, say Ethylene Glycol. Zyklon-B needs to be treated with an odourant to be noticeable.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on July 14, 2007


Yeah, that philosophy really doesn't jive well with Puritanism. But fuck Puritanism.

Amen. Much of the progress Mankind has made in this world has been the result of the philosophy of having one's cake and eating it too.

Life is more than merely the mechanics of living. If we can't do the things that we truly enjoy, the things that make life pleasurable, then what's the point? I'm not here to toil on Earth for the promise of some everlasting reward in Heaven. If having Splenda in my iced tea means that I'm overly indulgent by wanting to have things "both ways", then so be it. Leave the judgements at the door. I'm pretty sure I won't be giving a damn after I'm dead.
posted by mstefan at 3:34 AM on July 15, 2007


I'm not advocating Puritanism. Hardly! I'm arguing against being able to have everything you want without consequence. It's this kind of MORE! MORE! mentality that has us in this ugly, wasteful consumer frame of mind.

I think sugar is BANGIN'! I love food and desserts and sweet, sweet sodas. But I can't fill up on them because they'll do me in. It's weighing choices, saying "Well, I'll just have to be happy with x, because having x,y and z isn't good for me".
posted by GilloD at 10:23 AM on July 15, 2007


I'm arguing against being able to have everything you want without consequence.

If there aren't any ill consequences to doing so, there's no reason you shouldn't have whatever you want. Unless you think that enjoying life involves some sort of moral failure.

I think sugar is BANGIN'! I love food and desserts and sweet, sweet sodas. But I can't fill up on them because they'll do me in.

Maybe you should try Splenda.

It's weighing choices, saying "Well, I'll just have to be happy with x, because having x,y and z isn't good for me".

This is starting to remind me of right-wing Puritan types who oppose giving girls the anti-HPV vaccine, because it removes one of their reasons that young women should abstain from sex, even safer sex.
posted by grouse at 10:36 AM on July 15, 2007


Stop eating sugar.
posted by caddis at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2007


« Older The Mini-Penis Scandal....  |  Temple of Zoom.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments