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FFHI Affiliated Faculty Member, Carolyn de la Peña Publishes Book about Artificial Sweetners

by jiopark — last modified Jan 22, 2015 01:31 PM
Carolyn de la Peña, director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute and Professor of American Studies, recently published the book "Empty Pleasures" about the history of artificial sweetners.

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 Peña 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.  Click here to find out more about the book.

(book blurb from University of North Carolina Press)

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