Candy-Soda-Lunch Since 1910

Sugar and Candy, Pleasure and Panic

Baby Ruth Ad, 1951Sugar and candy arouse some complicated responses of pleasure and panic in our pleasure-seeking, puritanical nation. The author of a new book on the subject, Samira Kawash, describes a dietary moralism that developed in 19th century America. It held that some foods were “good and godly.” But she said this thinking also provided that:

Other kinds of foods were over-stimulating and dangerous to the organism, they were evil because they took your body and your health further away from God. Those ideas weren’t about candy specifically, but when candy became more widely available, they attached to candy very easily. Candy was made of sugar, and sugar was one of those dangerous, over-stimulating substances that might drive you to different kinds of frenzies of vice and sinfulness.

Ayds Reducing Plan Candy, image © A.Currell / flickrDoes any of this sound familiar? If not, then you have successfully tuned out the ongoing war on sugar, in which the leading scold, Robert Lustig, regularly proclaims that “sugar is poison.”

Perhaps the people who are peddling this dogma comfort themselves with the thought that extremism in the defense of virtue is no vice. But that kind of thinking is unlikely to work for the public health any better than it worked for Barry Goldwater.

No doubt about it, we have too much sugar in the food supply. But consumer preferences are shifting. Sugary foods and drinks are losing favor, even though some are flying under the radar. Added sugar labeling proposed by FDA may help. Good, factual information is essential for people to make good decisions.

Dogma and hyperbole are not so helpful.

Click here for an interview with Kawash and here for an entertaining perspective on candy and sugar in the food supply from John Oliver.

Candy-Soda-Lunch Since 1910, photograph © Pete Zarria / flickr

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