May 7, 2009

Sugar is Back - HFCS Takes a Beating

Kosher Coke has come and gone. I loaded up. Did you? It had a yellow cap on the 2 liter.Now Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, and Pepsi Natural have finally hit the shelves.

Have you tried it yet? Leave a comment. Can you tell the difference between 'regular' [meaning the one with High-fructose corn syrup] and the 'Throwback'?

I can tell you that I can with the Coke. Haven't tried the Pepsi product yet, but I am planning on it. I wonder if this will be what becomes Pepsi Perfect by the year 2015? Throwback has to be the worst named product of the year.

Why do I give a rip? What's the difference? Well, about two years ago I started a mini crusade against HFCS. Mostly because since Coke changed the formula from sugar to HFCS, that seemed to be the point where obesity in America really took off.

Around 1985 HFCS was included in every processed food from bread to jelly to ketchup to fruit snacks (i.e. a couple Tablespoons in every single product that kids in America eat.) There are a lot of fat asses in America, and especially in kids. Sure, it's anecdotal evidence - and I'm not a scientist. However, the HFCS phenomenon seems to be a great contributor to the obesity and diabetes problems that America is facing.

Also, no one smokes anymore - which is another one of those factors in adult 'fatassedness' and diabetes. Smoking tends to limit your appetite. No food, no extra calories, no fat ass. I don't need to be a scientist to figure that one out.

As HFCS now accounts for almost half of all the added sugars in the U.S. diet, there is a chance that the fountain my soon go dry. As mentioned, PepsiCo is 'taking a break' from America's sweetheart. Now Snapple will roll out its most expensive advertising campaign ever to promote a "natural" line of tea drinks brewed with "real" cane sugar. Pizza Hut, Kraft Foods, and ConAgra have also made some changes in recent months.

“For consumers, their perception is reality,” said Jim Sieple, a senior vice president for Log Cabin syrup, a 120-year-old brand in the Pinnacle Foods Group that this month announced it had stopped using high-fructose corn syrup.

Not even a $30 million multimedia campaign from the Corn Refiners Association has done much to reverse the trend. You may remember my posting of that earlier? (In moderation was my laughing point... same with racism and heroin)

In the meantime, there is some science that explains the difference between glucose and fructose. The ingestion of glucose, a basic sugar, is known to stimulate the release of body chemicals that regulate food intake. Fructose, on the other hand, does little to suppress your appetite, and it seems to be preferentially associated with the formation of new fat cells. A growing body of research has led some scientists to wonder whether the increased consumption of fructose over the past few decades might be responsible for rising rates of obesity.

And it has just a 'hint' of mercury in it too!

Okay, HFCS isn't healthy, but here's the other side of the argument... let's just believe it's not significantly worse for you than cane or beet sugar. Sure. But if you intake 19 Tablespoons of sugar - natural or made in a centrifuge, it's still 19 Tablespoons, right? Let's say we can't win the argument over health issues alone.

What about taste? I know I can taste a difference in the Coke. It's cleaner, fresher, better mouth feel - and it reminds me what Coke tasted like in my youth. So that's a winner in my useless opinion.

Sugar is also ever so slightly a smidge better for the environment than HFCS - again, that's in the processing stage, electricity involved. That damned centrifuge again.

But there's also one other factor that might be causing Big Food to turn their backs on ADM and HFCS. More than public opinion, health, or anything else. As always, follow the money. If looking for the cheapest ingredients created HFCS [aided by subsidized corn, and trade barriers on sugar meant that HFCS was cheaper than refined sugar] then HFCS might die by costing too much. When the spot price of corn peaked on June 30, 2008, to $7.81 a bushel, some of those food processors had to switch to cheaper sugar. Corn prices have settled down considerably since last summer, to a recent $3.96 a bushel... but is the damage already done?

Between mom wanting to control what Jr. eats - even in the recession + people like me warning about the hazards of HFCS + Foodies liking the taste (multiplied [x] by the instability in corn futures) = a bad week for HFCS.

But remember - putting too much sugar in all our food, whether it's 'retro' sugar, cane sugar, HFCS, or beet sugar grown by hippies in the hills of Montana - too many empty calories are still too many calories. Fat ass.


DB said...

You and my wife are fighting the same crusade against HCFS. She has jumped on the Organic/Trader Joes bandwagon as well. Even spilled over into cleaners and vitamins. I am along for the ride.

We had been taking about it recently and the HFCS is kind of scary. Why is it in my bread?? yikes! The rest of the chemicals in food today are a
little frightening as well.

I'm a moderation guy, but hey, I think my ass is fatter than it was 10 years ago, so maybe I could use some help. Give me some of that old fashioned sugar, it helps the medicine go down.

Didnt catch the wave of any Coke Kosher, but I had heard of the throwback (agree terrible name) and intend to pick up some to try it out.

Now if they end up making Dr. Pepper throwback, my wife will be on cloud nine...

Capn said...

It's in the bread to keep the oils from liquifying on the shelf.

No one likes slimy bread. Not even hippies.

HFCS also allows many products to have a longer shelf life. Which saves the bread guy a ton of money in less spoilage.

In soda, HFCS (used to) save about, on average .01 cents per Liter. Well, add that up over the last 20 years per liter of Coke sold... you're probably looking at a BILLION dollars in pennies.

See some of those additives make sense. No one would put perfume in Detergent, unless you smelled what it smells like without it. Same thing with dyes and masking scents. You wouldn't buy it without it.

It's all great, until you put it on your body or eat it.

Chris Talamo said...

I made the grave mistake of trying this product. I’ll be clear: it was far better than Pepsi, or any other cola, I have ever tasted. With every sip, my tongue was awash with the subtle delights of sweet acidic nectar, transporting me into a state of single-minded bliss where nothing, not even swine flu, could get me down.

Why was it a mistake? Because this product is only available until June 13. Yes, despite being generally marketed, it’s still a limited time offer. Come June 13, I don’t know if I’ll be able to return to corn syrup-sweetened sodas.