Posts filed under ‘Health’

Fiber Candies to Come?

Candy question of the day: why is the trade newspaper ConfectioneryNews.com publishing an article about FIBER?

“Novel Fiber May Blunt Blood Sugar Spikes” (8 Oct 2010) describes recently published research results on PGX, a “novel fiber supplement.” This research did not involve candy. Researchers spiked breakfast cereal with this soluble fiber and studied the blood sugar response to eating. Subjects who ate the fiber had more even blood sugar response.

Now confectioners are not in the cereal business. They are in the candy business. This coverage is very suggestive. There is a hint at food uses to come:

PolyGlycopleX (PGX) is a newly developed highly viscous polysaccharide complex that is reported to demonstrate a delayed onset of peak viscosity, “allowing for a more palatable and easy-to-use functional fiber,” state the authors. … The authors noted that the beneficial effects of functional fibers are highly dependent on the food matrix, adding that unpublished data has suggested PGX to be “just as effective when sprinkled on food as dissolved in water.”

Fiber that is soluble, more palatable, easy to use, and regulates blood sugar. Doesn’t need to be dissolved in water. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Stay tuned for the next generation of functional candies…

October 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm 1 comment

Keep Slim and Trim with Domino: Sugar Advertising in the 1950s

Of course you know Domino sugar. It’s those little white packets next to the NutraSweet and Equal in the glass tray at the diner. The name “Domino” was coined in the early 190o’s, after the ancestor to the sugar packet: the sugar cube. The trademark name for an otherwise unremarkable commodity kept Domino, and its manufacturer, the American Sugar Refining Company, out at the head of the sugar pack through the 19th century. Today, the Domino Sugar  Corp. has no real rivals in the field of refined sugar, according to the experts at the International Directory of Company Histories (Domino history reproduced at FundingUniverse.com). No, the real competition to Domino Sugar is not sugar at all. Analysts warn: “the trend toward non-caloric artificial sweeteners has started to cut into the firm’s profits.”

I laughed when I read this. The sugar industry has been grappling with how to sell its product to “diet conscious consumers” for 60 years. And as I described in previous posts, the explosion of artificial sweeteners in the 1950s challenged the sugar producers and the candy industry alike. (See especially The Plague of Overweight and  1954 Fake Sugar Smack Down)

Back in the early 1900s, the American Sugar Refining Company dominated the American refined sugar market. It was the first to successfully apply a branding strategy to sugar: not just sugar but DOMINO sugar. Sugar demand and sugar consumption exploded in the 1920s and 1930s. After the painful (and, due to sugar shortages and rationing, much less sweet) war years (1942-1945), Domino was back in full force, feeding the nation’s demand for sugary sweets to the tune of something like $180 million in annual sales.

But their was a cloud on the sugar horizon. A big, fat cloud. After a decade of post-war binging, America was feeling the effects. “Overweight” was a national health crisis. Everyone was reducing. No fattening sugar!

What’s  a fattening sugar producer to do? Domino had one idea: prove that sugar isn’t fattening.

Life Magazine, 20 April 1953

Counting calories these days? You should know that generous amounts of Domino’s Granulated Sugar, used in your favorite foods and beverages, contain fewer calories than usual servings of many foods regularly included in reducing diets.

By 1955, this campaign had evolved from “sugar has fewer calories than you think” to “sugar is for reducing”. the message in this ad, a revision of the 1953 ad above, suggests that heaping three spoons of sugar into your coffee is a better strategy for weight loss than munching on an apple:

Life Magazine, 3 October 1955

And it wasn’t just apples that dieters might want to reconsider. From the same ad series

The final piece of this marketing campaign was this little cookbook for the “slim and trim”:

America Sugar promoted this booklet as

the safe, sure way to lose weight without losing pep or giving up sugar! … It’s Domino’s effort to put SUGAR–and sugar-containing foods and beverages–back in Reducing Diets…where they belong! (ad to the trade in Confectioners Journal, April 1955 p 9)

Domino Sugar is going through some changes today. Heard of the Domino Sugar Building on the Williamsburg waterfront? The American Sugar Refining Company built its first sugar refining plant here in my native Brooklyn,. It shut down in 2004 (and will likely be reborn as luxury condos, what else), but this is what it looked like in the late days:

And sugar? Domino is branching out in new directions. They have developed a perplexing array of products for food processing applications known as “non-sweet sugars”: such oxymorons are evidently useful in things like sports drinks which are sweet but not so sweet, and also in non-fat frostings, frozen desserts and salad dressings where the non-sweet sugar takes the place of some of the fat. The company has also teamed up with erstwhile enemy NutraSweet to develop and market…artificial sweeteners.

See my related posts on candy, calorie counting, sugar and artificial sweeteners:

September 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Candy Box Insert Promotes Weight Loss, 1954

As sugar goes, so goes candy. When artificial sweeteners moved from the nutritional fringes to the dietary mainstream in the 1950s, the sugar producers and the candy industry realized quickly that their fates were intertwined.

Sugar Information Inc. had one idea for helping candy keep its market. In 1954 the industry group produced a little pamphlet called “Memo to Dieters.”

At about 3 inches square, it was the perfect size to slip into a box of chocolates or a sack of sweets. The publication was designed to give prominent display to the name of the candy brand, and it featured the new sugar message that sugar and candy were weight loss aids:

New medical research finding now confirm that you can have your sweets and your waistline too. … Sugar before meals raises your blood sugar level and reduces your appetite. … And don’t forget that candy is also a wonderful source of quick energy. … So don’t be misled into thinking candy is necessarily fattening. Candy can actually be effective in helping you to reduce.

My favorite part of this  little pamphlet is the new twist on an old candy marketing strategy. Back in the ‘teens, the National Confectioners Association came up with a punchy candy slogan that captured the aspirations of candy makers to move their product from the category of luxury and treat to the category of everyday purchase: Candy is Good Food. Eat Some Everyday.

In the Sugar Industries insert, we get a new twist on the theme: Candy is a delicious food, eat some every day to help your diet work.

The shift from the old slogan to the new diet variation suggests a new role for candy. The old slogan posed candy as another kind of food, just as good as meat and fruit. All foods are for energy, and candy gives you energy too. The new slogan says candy will “help your diet work”: that is, candy will help you eat less of all the other kinds of food that are making you fat. Food is fattening, and candy is the solution. Candy is food, and better than food.

Jump forward 60 years, and you are in CVS, choosing between the SlimFast bar, the Full Bar, and the ThinkThin bar. Eat more candy, lose more weight.

For the backstory on artificial sweeteners in 1954 and the impact on sugar marketing, see the first two posts below. You can read more about the “candy is good food” idea in the other posts listed below.

Source: Confectioners Journal, July 1954, p. 32

September 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm 1 comment

Granola Bar? Candy Bar.

Perhaps with the change in seasons you’ve taken up the task of packing lunchboxes once again. My guess is that most American lunchboxes don’t have candy bars in them. But I suspect many have other sorts of snack bars.

Back in the 1940s, candy bar makers experimented with fortifying their product with vitamins: not just good, but good for you! The idea was that that candy’s energy (calories) just needed a little supplement to transform a treat into a meal.

Sounds kooky, right? Well, muck-rakers up on the northern side of the border have been poking around in the nutrition labels of some of the biggest selling snack bars and guess what?

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of Ottowa’s Bariatric Medical Institute, analyzed the nutritional value of ten popular granola and cereal bars. His conclusion:

In general, I wouldn’t consider granola bars to be healthy snacks. I’d consider them to be less-tasty chocolate bars…. I’d relegate granola bars into the treat category.
Freedhoff found lots of sugar, lots of misleading health and nutrition claims, and a lot less of the fiber and protein that would give the bars some power to satiate real hunger. On the other hand, it’s hard to see where “treat” comes in. Taste testers at the Ottowa Citizen described the experience of many of the bars as “ghastly” and having a “texture reminiscent of sawdust and others like congealed mucilage with an odd fruity taste not unlike cheap candy.”
Unfortunately, the discreet Canadians are not naming names. But you can read their summary comments on the ten bars in the article “Healthy Snacks or Sugary Candy?” at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Healthy+snacks+sugary+candy/3425720/story.html#ixzz0z7tSuUNd
Related posts:
  • A Complete, Well-Balanced Diet
  • Candy Fortification: Synthetic Vitamin A
  • September 10, 2010 at 8:03 am 3 comments

    Back to School: Chocolate Milk Wars

    Glass Of Chocolate Milk

    So, it’s back to school already. And the milk wars are heating up. Today’s NYT Food section has a great feature on the fight over schools offering chocolate milk as part of a “nutritious lunch.” Kim Severson, “A School Fight Over Chocolate Milk”

    Best quote of the article: “Saying we need to add sugar and flavoring to milk to get kids to drink it is like saying we need to feed kids apple pie if they don’t like apples.” Ann Cooper (she runs the Boulder CO school lunch program, one of the districts that is going back to school chocolate milk free).

    The key to the whole fight comes down, as all else surrounding food, to money: the schools only get federal lunch funds if your school lunch offering includes a grain, a vegetable, a fruit and a protein. And milk. And you only get the funds if kids take three of these five offerings. So chocolate milk, being a popular choice with the kiddies, knocks out one of the three mandatory picks. Given that the easy chocolate milk provides more leeway for kids to pass on mystery meat and gray “green” beans, schools are crying foul at attempts to insist that milk is milk, and chocolate milk is something else entirely.

    Back in November (2009), when the National Dairy Council started its campaign to save chocolate milk at the school lunch counter, I wrote a post somewhere else. It didn’t make it to Candy Professor then, but it seems just as timely now. So here it is, my two cents on the Chocolate Milk Wars:

    Have you raised your hand for chocolate milk? Or have you raised your finger?

    The National Dairy Council (farmers) has teamed up with the Milk Processor Education Program (processors) “to provide the latest facts and science on Chocolate Milk’s role in children’s diets.” Check USA Today (12 November 2009) for a full page ad, or the web site and petition at http://www.raiseyourhand4milk.com. Seems those pesky activists and parents and nutritionists have gotten together again, and this time they want to take the chocolate milk out of the school lunch room. How dare they! After all, they say, “chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and kids will drink less milk (and get fewer nutrients) if it’s taken away.”

    Really? Would it be so bad if kids drank less chocolate milk? Yeah, I get that it’s made out of milk. But is it really food? Interestingly, the National Confectioners Association was what brought the chocolate milk promotion to my attention. You know, the candy industry.

    I have been thinking about candy in relation to food in the wake of Michael Pollan’s “defense of food.” Pollan encourages us to eat real food, stuff made from plants and animals in traditional, pre-industrial, recognizable forms. The highly processed, the inert, the “fortified,” the refined: these are products of industry, and not food so much as “food like substances.”

    Once we can discern the difference between food and “food-like substances,” our diet returns to something healthful and sustaining and simple. And if we are mostly eating food, then there is no harm in eating some candy. So long as we’re clear, that candy is not food, not a substitute for food, and not to replace or displace food. Candy is defensible as part of our diet only when we draw a sharp line between food, what we enjoy as we nourish our bodies, and candy, something we eat purely for pleasure.

    Which brings me to chocolate milk. Is it food? or is it candy? Although nobody says it this way exactly, this question is really at the crux of this latest flare up. In fact, this is just the latest salvo in a long-standing fight over the role of candy in school lunches. This was one the candy industry was probably fated to lose, but believe it or not, there was a time when candy was on the “approved” list. Clearly, if the fight now is about chocolate milk rather than chocolate bars, times have changed. But the terms of the fight have stayed eerily constant.

    Chocolate milk is an odd hybrid, with an interesting history of its own. In the nineteenth century, there really was no “chocolate milk” as we know it today. Chocolate in sweetened milk was for sick people, old people, people who couldn’t stomach much else. Chocolate was viewed as providing sustenance and strength to the weak and infirm, a sort of tonic with vaguely healthful properties.

    Chocolate milk in the twentieth century came to be increasingly associated with childhood. Prior to the “chocolate milk revolution” in the 1950s, cold chocolate milk was not really feasible. Hot chocolate was the childhood equivalent of hot coffee, a combination of sweetness and milkiness that seemed essentially infantile. But hot chocolate required heating milk (a delicate operation) and measuring and mixing at the stove. Not difficult, but not something kids would do alone. Instant chocolate milk mix changed the playing field: Nestle, Carnation, Ovaltine were all introduced in the early 1950s, a time when food engineering introduced the TV dinner and other “convenience” monstrosities to the American table. Now children could enjoy delicious chocolate milk any time, with no mess and no trouble. Ads for these products feature cherubic children and pudgy hands mixing and drinking dark brown elixirs.

    Chocolate milk was a big part of twentieth century childhood, to be sure. But chocolate milk at home as a snack or a treat in the context of all the other foods that mother has chosen is one thing. And for the most part, those 1950s kids were skinny and didn’t know a thing about diabetes or pediatric heart disease.

    For most U.S. kids in the twenty first century, chocolate milk every day on the school lunch line is something else. For kids with serious food and health issues, the line between food and candy needs to be drawn, and it needs to be crystal clear. And we all need to acknowledge: chocolate milk is candy. That is to say, chocolate milk should be enjoyed as a treat, occasionally, not as a daily beverage.

    They say kids won’t drink milk unless its flavored. They say at least chocolate milk has the nutrients of milk. They say it’s better than soda.

    By this logic, I should have a screwdriver with my oatmeal every morning. Because otherwise, I just won’t drink that orange juice.

    Teach kids to drink soda, they drink soda. Teach them soda is a bad choice, give them water, they’ll drink water. Chocolate milk is no different. Pandering to the lowest denominator, the sweet tooth, and insisting that children will do no better if given the chance is just patronizing. The school lunch programs are making huge improvements. In the New York City schools, they are eating the whole grain breads, they are learning about fresh fruits and vegetables. Alice Waters has her kids eating okra and kale, for pete’s sake. Will kids drink less milk when it’s not sweet chocolate? Some. But that’s because they had the chocolate to start with. We need a little re-education here. There is no reason they can’t learn to appreciate the difference between real food and nutritionally tarted-up candy.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm 5 comments

    1954 Fake Sugar Smack-Down

    America’s love affair with artificial sweeteners started in the 1950s when cyclamate became widely available. Reports linking the sweet chemical to cancer in lab rats were decades away.  Artificial sweeteners promised the triumph of chemistry over the messy stuff of appetite and fatness.

    This all put actual sugar in a tricky spot. The marketing of artificial sweeteners didn’t mince words: sugar is fattening, fake sugar is not. Real sugar needed to find an angle.

    The sugar trade group, Sugar Information Inc., came up with an ingenious solution. They embraced the idea of reducing, but turned sugar’s calories from a deficit into an advantage in the battle against the bulge.

    In a massive advertising campaign launched in early 1954, Sugar Inc. told this story: Why do people get fat? They eat too much. Why do they eat too much? They are hungry. Why are they hungry? Their blood sugar has dropped. How to ward off that hunger that leads to overeating? Have a little sugar.

    The idea of blood sugar and appetite regulation was cutting edge nutritional science in 1954. When Sugar Inc. started running these ads, the idea of appetite regulation and the relation to blood sugar was quite new, while the menace of caloric excess was widely recognized.

    These sugar ads which ran as a series through 1954 in national publications such as LIFE, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and New Yorker evoked “research scientists at a leading university” to explain the idea that “if you are overweight, a moderate use of sugar in your diet may actually be more effective in helping you reduce than no-calorie artificial sweeteners.”

    In a statement to retailers and manufacturers, Sugar Information Inc. called this advertising a “nutritional bombshell”: “a mighty effective answer to the confused calorie claims that seek to undermine confidence in quality foods and beverages that you have helped to build up over the years.”

    Ta da: sugar is transformed from waistline menace to the ultimate diet aid. Who needed “diet candy” when candy was the perfect diet pill? As madame exclaims in this ad for Refined Syrups and Sugars, Inc., “What! Eat candy and reduce? — Yes, here’s why…”

    See more of the ads in LIFE Magazine: 18 Jan 1954; 5 April 1954; 12 July 1954

    August 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm 2 comments

    1954: The Plague of Overweight and the Salvation of Reduced Calorie Foods (Except Candy)

    In the early 1950s, Americans were gripped by a renewed fervor for reducing.

    Life insurance studies had suggested that as many as 5 million Americans were obese, and another 20 million overweight. According to these measures, weight problems afflicted nearly 1 in 5 of the total population. Public health officials began sounding the alarm in 1952, and by 1954, even mainstream publications like LIFE Magazine had joined in promoting the new view on America’s waistline: ‘The most serious health problem in the U.S. today is obesity.”  Sound familiar?

    Today scientists are looking to high fructose corn syrup, estrogen disruptors, carbohydrate overload, and metabolic disorders to understand why, despite half a century of diet and exercise, despite lo-cal and lo-fat and lo-carb and hi-fiber, Americans keep getting fatter. Overeating just doesn’t explain the whole problem.

    But in the 1950s, the problem was firmly located in individual behavior. Fatness was explicitly associated with weakness, venality, sin. LIFE Magazine put it plainly:  “The uncompromising truth is that obesity is caused by gluttony.”  The solution? Eat less. Less food, to be sure. But in an age dominated by the precision of science, the real measure of “less” was not volume but calories.

    The food industry was quick to respond to the new market for reduced-calorie foods. Saccharine had been available since the late 1800s, prescribed by doctors for diabetic use but occasionally “abused” by dieters. Saccharine was of limited appeal, as it had a bitter and unpleasant aftertaste and was not easily adapted to cooking and canning processes. But a new synthetic sweetener, cylcamate, became available in 1950 under the trade name Sucaryl. Where saccharine had primarily been sold over the counter in pharmacies, cyclamate was quickly adopted by food processors, especially canned food and beverages. Saccharine sweetened drinks had been around since the 1920s but were not widespread or popular. But between 1950 and 1954, artificially sweetened drinks exploded. Well known brands like Lo-Cal and No-Cal were selling millions of cases, and there were something like 150 brands of cyclamate and saccharine sodas and drinks on the market. And “diet” foods including canned fruits and vegetables, skim milk, and lo-cal desserts moved out of the fringes of specialty “health” stores and into the aisles of mainstream grocery markets.

    The marketing of artificial sweeteners was agressive and played directly into America’s new obsession with calorie counting. The consumer campaign for Sucaryl used lines like: “You can save a lot of calories by sweetening with Sucaryl and you can’t taste the difference.” And: “If you are not counting calories, you don’t need this new, non-fattening sweetener. If you are, you do.”

    In this ad you can see how “eat less” doesn’t mean eat less food. The low calorie dessert looks and (presumably) tastes the same as its full calorie counterpart. Sucaryl makes reducing seem almost magical: you can’t see or even notice what is different about the Sucaryl dessert. Just make the right choice of sweeteners, and your weight problem is solved.

    Sucaryl proclaimed itself “the new non-fattening sweetener that tastes just like sugar.” Which is to say, sugar is the fattening sweetener. Who was going to want to eat what was fattening? By implication, everyone needed to be counting calories to stave off the dread overweight, and so everyone should be using Sucaryl.

    It was a shot fired over the bow, make that the bowl, of sugar. And candy was directly in the line of fire.

    Saccharine and cyclamate made sweetness distinct from fattening. So America could have its sweet sodas and pies and canned peaches. But nobody knew how to make candy out of saccharine or cyclamate. Candy sweetness was sugar sweetness. What was a candy lover to do? The line seemed clear: candy — sugar — fattening — gluttony — sin.

    Next time: candy redemption.

    “Those  Foods for Dieters,” Kiplingers Personal Finance, Jan 1954 p. 13-15. “The Plague of Overweight,” LIFE Magazine, 8 March 1954, p. 120-124. Sucaryl ad, LIFE Magazine 5 Dec. 1955 p. 110

    August 11, 2010 at 11:58 am 2 comments

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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

    Welcome to Candy Professor

    Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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