Friday, March 25, 2011

Sugar, Sugar

I have a love-hate relationship with sugar - I love it and it hates me.  :D

Once again, because of my age I can straddle the generations.  I grew up in the Seventies, when cereals like "Super Sugar Crisp" and "Sugar Smacks" still existed.  Around the time I got into middle school, in the late 70s/early 80s, the tide was turning and "healthy" was the watchword.  "Super Sugar Crisp" became "Super Golden Crisp" and "Sugar Smacks" became "Honey Smacks".  These name changes were ridiculous, of course, because the ingredients didn't change; if anything, high fructose corn syrup probably replaced Dextrose for the sweetener.

But back in the day?  SURE!  Go ahead!  Eat all the "Dextrose" you want, because it gives you pep and energy, and good things growing bodies need!

When women baked everything the family ate, sugar was just another staple in the home.  During the Depression some families switched to sorghum, a species of grass, because sugar became so expensive (in its syrup form some call it "molasses", but it's not).  It's interesting to me that more "true" sugar was consumed, yet people weighed less back then.  Same goes for butter.

Starting in the Sixties, advertising came out for all kinds of sweeteners, mainly targeted at women who were "reducing" (how's THAT for a euphemism?).  As you can see, many of them came in convenient pill form, at the time when people thought pills would solve every problem known to man.  I remember reading the warning out loud on the Sweet n' Low box to my mom about how saccharin causes cancer in rats (my dad used the diet stuff all the time - he preferred it.).

Nowadays (isn't that a great word?  Let's use it more often!), the varieties of sweeteners tend to veer toward sugar "extracts" like Splenda, or derivations like the stevia plant (in the form of Truvia).  I always thought that Stevia would make a lovely girl's name, don't you think?  :D

So what's the future of sugar?  We're already seeing backlash of the fake stuff and "retro" packaging of soda featuring "real sugar" which just cracks me up.  I'd guess that the only way we're going to really "reduce" is to stop eating so much of everything, and not just sugar. 

I've done a few pieces using sugar items - Domino seems to be the dominant sugar brand of the first half of the 20th century (I used a Domino Schriner's packet for the Fondy card)!

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