Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda

Overview


Sugar substitutes have been a part of American life since saccharin was introduced at the 1893 World's Fair. In Empty Pleasures, the first history of artificial sweeteners in the United States, Carolyn de la Pena blends popular culture with business and women's history, examining the invention, production, marketing, regulation, and consumption of sugar substitutes such as saccharin, Sucaryl, NutraSweet, and Splenda. She describes how saccharin, an accidental laboratory by-product, was transformed from a ...
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Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda

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Overview


Sugar substitutes have been a part of American life since saccharin was introduced at the 1893 World's Fair. In Empty Pleasures, the first history of artificial sweeteners in the United States, Carolyn de la Pena blends popular culture with business and women's history, examining the invention, production, marketing, regulation, and consumption of sugar substitutes such as saccharin, Sucaryl, NutraSweet, and Splenda. She describes how saccharin, an accidental laboratory by-product, was transformed from a perceived adulterant into a healthy ingredient. As food producers and pharmaceutical companies worked together to create diet products, savvy women's magazine writers and editors promoted artificially sweetened foods as ideal, modern weight-loss aids, and early diet-plan entrepreneurs built menus and fortunes around pleasurable dieting made possible by artificial sweeteners.

NutraSweet, Splenda, and their predecessors have enjoyed enormous success by promising that Americans, especially women, can "have their cake and eat it too," but Empty Pleasures argues that these "sweet cheats" have fostered troubling and unsustainable eating habits and that the promises of artificial sweeteners are ultimately too good to be true.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This book does an excellent job of exploring the contested history of artificial sweeteners and their use in packaged food and drink. In de la Pena's hands these substances become windows onto important aspects of the American experience.--American Historical Review

In this cultural history, de la Pena shows how everyone from scientists to food conglomerates to ad agencies to women's magazines have conspired to make Americans believe we can have our sweets and eat them too.--BarnesandNobleReview.com

Charmingly written and exhaustively researched, de la Pena's exploration provides a fascinating look into a seemingly commonplace food additive.--ForeWord Magazine

In its most intriguing chapter, the book details the "saccharin rebellion" . . . [which] reveals much about ordinary Americans' perceptions of pleasure in a risk-filled world.--A Nota Bene selection of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Empty Pleasures is full of insights about artificial sweeteners.--Gastronomica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807872741
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Carolyn de la Pena is a professor of American studies at the University of California, Davis. She is author of The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American.
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