Gimme Some Sugar

Pepsi and Pizza Hut go au naturel, but still make you fat.

Ever tried a Passover Coke? Right about this time of year, when matzos begin appearing on the shelves (discretely segregated from the Cadbury Creme Eggs, of course) Coke makes a subtle tweak to its formula. Because some—though not all—Jews avoid eating corn on Passover, Coca-Cola does a limited run sweetened with regular sugar instead of corn syrup, labeled with a tiny "P" next to the Kosher symbol.

Foodies have stalked this elusive beverage for years, along with Mexican Coca-Cola, which is also made with cane sugar. The bigwigs at Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta say there is "no perceptible taste difference," but people who have discerning palates and/or too much free time find in taste tests that "drinks made with real sugar have a clean sweetness and light mouthfeel to them, while those made with corn syrup have heavy mouthfeel and a cloying sweetness."

Taste factor aside, much of the vogue for real sugar soda is an extension of the ongoing jihad on high-fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used in most American sodas and packaged foods. Jews aren't the only ones with arcane food rules these days. High-fructose corn syrup is routinely blamed for childhood obesity, adult obesity, even dog obesity. Florida Rep. Juan Zapata called it the "crack of sweeteners" back in 2006 and tried to ban it in schools. Bruce Watson of the popular (and otherwise excellent) blog Slashfood calls it "the devil's additive."

Last week, The New York Times announced that sugar is back in fashion, citing the new real sugar cola, Pepsi Natural. As the old saw has it, when the Times notices a trend, the trend is already on its last legs. It is certainly true that many food elites stopped eating high-fructose corn syrup so long ago, they can't even remember what that "heavy mouthfeel and cloying sweetness" was like.

But the trend seems to be going strong in product releases for the general population: According to the Mintel Global New Products Database, "natural" claims appeared on nearly one in four food and drink launches in 2008, a 9 percent increase over 2007. Meanwhile, low fat, low sugar, low calorie labels have lost their zip. The same study found that between 2007 and 2008, launches of those products stagnated globally. The Times even mentioned a new Pizza Hut offering called "The Natural" and noted that "ConAgra uses only sugar or honey in its Healthy Choice All Natural frozen entrees."

The demonizing of high-fructose corn syrup has led some people to natural foods out of a desire to avoid the "bad" foods out there, which allegedly tempt and confuse them. Perhaps, they hope, natural foods have certain specific advantages over processed alternatives. Maybe the vitamins are more vitaminy, the fats less fatty.

But "natural" has no magical properties. It's not even like a kosher certification, which does usefully prevent accidental violations of God's law. There are no specific traditions to be followed, no standards to be upheld. It's just a word on a package.

Henry Miller, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, points out in an email that "with the exception of wild game, wild mushrooms, wild berries, and fish and shellfish, all of the plants, animals and microorganisms in our diets have been genetically improved (often drastically) by one technique or another. Conversely, the bacteria such as Salmonella and C. botulinum (which causes botulism) are 'natural,' as are poisonous varieties of mushrooms and the hemlock and foxglove (digitalis) plants."

The substitution of real sugar for high fructose corn syrup is like the old riddle about which is heavier: A 10-pound bag of feathers or a 10-pound bag of lead? (Answer here, but we're going to ban anyone who needs to click through from Reason.com, so choose carefully.) A calorie of natural sugar is still a calorie. Weight gain or loss is determined by calories in vs. calories out. Ruth Kava, the director of nutrition at the American Council on Science & Health, a group that debunks food and health panics, says "I don't know how one supposedly distinguishes between ‘real' sugar and any other kind!"

"Pepsi Natural, a premium cola made with sugar, natural caramel and kola nut extract, will be sold in glass bottles in the premium or natural food aisles of stores in 10 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle," reports Reuters. Why? After all, Wal-Mart sells organic milk these days. Why not bring real sugar Pepsi to the masses, alongside the regular bottles?

One reason is that real sugar will never be able to complete with corn syrup on price (see all the math here). The trend toward natural ingredients, especially sugar, will remain trapped in the premium product market unless corn subsidies are repealed, and sugar taxes revamped. Until then, the brawl between a calorie of high-fructose corn syrup and a calorie of cane sugar will never be a fair fight.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I remember seeing a news story on the tv about HFCS. There was actual scientific evidence that when we eat foods with sugar, our body releases a hormone (i think it was hormones) that signals the brain that we are full. When we eat foods with HFCS instead of natural sugar, that hormone is never released and our brain never gets the signal that we are full. They were showing a significant rise in obesity coinciding with the use of HFCS due to it's cost effectiveness.

  • David||

    So there's an actual scientific basis for eating dessert after the last meal of the day? Crazy.

  • ||

    I prefer the original Coca-Cola formula, so I take out the HFCS and caffeine and replace it with sugar and blow.

  • ||

    which is heavier: A 10-pound bag of feathers or a 10-pound bag of lead?

    If you are holding them at the top, the feathers. If you're holding them in the middle, the feathers. If you're holding them on the bottom, the lead.

    I didn't click through to the answer. Am I right?

  • ||

    I get Mexican Coke from several places here around Houston. From my experience, I drink half of a 16-oz MexCoke and my craving for soda is met, expecially if it's ice cold. I can down a litre of HFCS Coke at one sitting and still want more.

    Ever wonder why we didn't have bladder-busting size soft drinks until HFCS was added? Hmmmmm.

  • El Duderino||

    This post is old, but ill reply for posterity sake.

    First, your anecdote about how much soda you drink is just an anecdote and not evidence of addiction.

    Second, we have huge soda because larger sodas make more money than smaller sizes.

    And regarding your anecdote, i can barely finish hal of a 24 oz soda. Not scientific, i know, just another anecdote for your scrapbook.

  • ||

    I prefer the original Coca-Cola formula, so I take out the HFCS and caffeine and replace it with sugar and blow.

    Jefferson, you may buy me a drink anytime.


    And I will surely reciprocate.

    (Cane sugar is what I hope you mean - the HFCS is schwag). And the blow I like it in an ethereal state - all luscious powder (as skiers say).

  • ||

    Calling Dave W.
    Calling Dave W.
    Where are you?
    We need your HFCS wisdom here.
    Come in Dave W.
    Over.

  • Vines & Cattle||

    You can pry my HFCS Mountain Dew from my cold dead hand!

  • max hats||

    I get Mexican Coke from several places here around Houston. From my experience, I drink half of a 16-oz MexCoke and my craving for soda is met, expecially if it's ice cold. I can down a litre of HFCS Coke at one sitting and still want more.



    Sugar has such a naturally superior taste than corn syrup, it really shows how massive our subsidies of corn are to make the inferior product nearly universal on grocery store shelves.

  • charlie||

    And the point of this article is . . . ?

    Also: are Cathy Young and Katherine Mangu-Ward the same person, or are there really two people capable of writing such dull, vapid prose?

  • ||

    A 10-pound bag of lead and a 10-pound bag of feathers weight the same, but the bag of feathers has more mass.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    Has a greater volume you mean.

  • ||

    Calling Dave W....

    I thought he just intuitively sensed these posts in the ether?

    They were showing a significant rise in obesity coinciding with the use of HFCS due to it's cost effectiveness.

    One more thing to lay at the feet of a fat-cat gummint all too eager to satisfy rent-seeking corporations that don't want to have to bother to compete with foreign sources of sugar.

  • ||

    I'm bummed that she didn't go into any of the science, just labeled anyone who refuses to ingest artificial food crazy/wacky/pompous.

  • jbk||

    Well, I don't really want to do any work at the moment, so:

    The two bags have the same weight and mass. The volumes are likely different.

    Weight is defined as the mass of an object times the acceleration due to gravity: w=mg

    So, two 10 lb bags each weigh exactly the same, by definition. Their masses are the same, assuming they are in the same gravitional field. If they are both on Earth, at the same altitude, they have the same mass.

    A 10 lb bag of feathers on the moon has more mass than a 10 lb bag of lead does on Earth, because g is lower on the moon than on Earth.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    Mass does not change because of gravity.

  • max hats||


    A 10 lb bag of feathers on the moon has more mass than a 10 lb bag of lead does on Earth, because g is lower on the moon than on Earth.



    no. as you said earlier:

    w=mg



    We have w1 (feathers) = w2 (lead), and g is a constant in both environments. Therefore m1 also = m2. No variation in G will ever affect the mass of either object. I can't even figure out what you were trying to say.

  • max hats||

    okay, sorry, I did figure out what you are trying to say. 10 moon pounds means more mass than 10 earth pounds. Correct, and apologies for the earlier post.

  • Kolohe||

    no.

    Yes. It's just worded poorly.

    If Force of gravity on a bag of feathers on the moon = Force of gravity on a bag of lead = 10 lbs, then the bag on the moon is of greater mass (approximately 6 times as much) as the bag on the earth.

  • Kolohe||

    or what you just said.

  • ||

    Pedant alert!

    Mass is mass, regardless of density and regardless of where in the universe you are, except at normal Earth-type speeds you get virtually unmeasurable tiny variations due to Einstein's Theory of Relativity unless the two objects are moving at exactly the same velocity.

    Now, if you put that object on a spaceship and accelerate that object to nearly the speed of light, it can become way more massive relative to a stationary object on Earth, though it would seem unchanged to observers aboard the ship. Basically, the E=mc2 equation means that the extra velocity causes some E (energy) to be converted into mass, and the closer you get to the speed of light the more energy becomes mass.

  • da brewer||

    http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/food2.htm

    Fructose has the same chemical formula as glucose (C6H12O6), but the atoms are arranged slightly differently. The liver converts fructose to glucose. Sucrose, also known as "white sugar" or "table sugar," is made of one glucose and one fructose molecule bonded together. Lactose (the sugar found in milk) is made of one glucose and one galactose molecule bonded together. Galactose, like fructose, has the same chemical components as glucose but the atoms are arranged differently. The liver also converts galactose to glucose. Maltose, the sugar found in malt, is made from two glucose atoms bonded together.

    Glucose, fructose and galactose are monosaccharides and are the only carbohydrates that can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal lining. Lactose, sucrose and maltose are disaccharides (they contain two monosaccharides) and are easily converted to their monosaccharide bases by enzymes in the digestive tract. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are called simple carbohydrates. They are also sugars -- they all taste sweet. They all digest quickly and enter the bloodstream quickly.


    Glucose, fructose, and sucrose have different effects on the tongue and different mouthfeels, but once they hit the digestive track there just ain't that much difference.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    What about dextrose?

  • El Duderino||

    They taste goooooooooood!

  • EJM||

    This is largely off-topic, but I sometimes think a bit about how the U.S. soft-drink industry today would be different had The Coca-Cola Company been able to buy Dr Pepper in the 1980s--and, for that matter, had PepsiCo been able to buy 7-Up at about the same time. (Both deals were challenged by the FTC.)

    Consequently, Dr Pepper and 7-Up merged, and started also buying some other companies--such as Crush International (which also included Hires and Sundrop), A&W Brands (which also included Vernors), and (later on) the beverage holdings of the former Triarc (including Snapple, Stewart's, and RC). That company is now the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

    However, Coke was able to gain most distribution rights for Dr Pepper outside the U.S.--and Pepsi was able to do the same for 7-Up. Therefore, DPSG is basically a North America-only company.

    So, what if either of the deals in the '80s had gone through? Would Pepsi have ever launched Slice or Sierra Mist? Would Coke try keeping Mr. Pibb? Would either company try buying out a major root-beer brand other than the ones that they did end up buying (Barq's, in the case of Coke; Mug, in the case of Pepsi)? Would some of the other brands that are a part of the current DPSG instead be part of, say, National Beverage (whose main brands are Shasta and Faygo)? And, getting back to the point of the thread, would there be more brands using sugar, instead of HFCS?

    Ponder all of that, the next time you drink a soda (or pop). ;)

    (BTW, I do realize that I'm leaving out any mention of the bottling end of the industry, which would most definitely play a significant role.)

  • ||

    BAH! The riddle as I've always read it is as follows:

    Which weighs more: a pound of gold or a pound of feathers?

    The answer is a pound of feathers, due to the difference between the avoirdupois system used to weigh most objects, and the troy system used to measure gold. A pound of gold weighs 5760 grains, while a pound of feathers weighs 7000 grains.

  • kinnath||

    And, getting back to the point of the thread, would there be more brands using sugar, instead of HFCS?

    No, sugar prices are artificially raised by import tarrifs. Corn syrup prices are artificially lowered by corn subsidies.

    Take away the government finger-poking and the beverage manufacturers are still going to use the sweetener that gives them the best bottom line -- which could be sucrose (beet or cane sugar).

  • ||

    Weight gain or loss is determined by calories in vs. calories out. Ruth Kava, the director of nutrition at the American Council on Science & Health, a group that debunks food and health panics, says "I don't know how one supposedly distinguishes between 'real' sugar and any other kind!"

    Is overly simplistic. All food is not digested the same. 1000 calories of carbs, 1000 calories of fats and 1000 calories of protein are digested differently. Depending on the makeup of the food, more calories will be absorbed in one form than another. Also, the level of satiation caused by different foods is also different. Yes, if you absorb 1000 calories, it doesn't matter the source, however, some foods will make you feel fuller after consuming them than others.

    For example an 8 oz lean tenderloin filet is about 400 calories. Compare this to 2 20-oz bottles of Coke, 478 calories.* After consuming each, which one will make you feel fuller? If you don't feel full, you're less likely to not eat.

    Source: calorieking.com

  • kinnath||

    All food is not digested the same. 1000 calories of carbs, 1000 calories of fats and 1000 calories of protein are digested differently.

    True but not relevant.

  • ||

    Brotherben is absolutely correct. The hormone is called leptin. It is certainly a contributing factor to obeisity.

    Government corn subsidies caused this obesity problem, now they offer government as the solution

  • ||

    So, two 10 lb bags each weigh exactly the same, by definition. Their masses are the same, assuming they are in the same gravitional field. If they are both on Earth, at the same altitude, they have the same mass.

    But the feathers at the top of the bag and the feathers at the bottom of the bag are not at the same altitude.

    I took the 10 pound bags to be 10 pounds-mass, since weight really is such an imprecise concept. But if the bags are both determined to be 10 pounds by hanging them from the same scale, then, in fact, they do weigh the same though the bag of feathers has less mass.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Meanwhile, in real news, were Reason's friends at the SPLC involved in the Missouri militia document? You know, the one that smeared supporters of RonPaul and Bobarr.

  • EJM||

    No, sugar prices are artificially raised by import tarrifs. Corn syrup prices are artificially lowered by corn subsidies.

    Take away the government finger-poking and the beverage manufacturers are still going to use the sweetener that gives them the best bottom line -- which could be sucrose (beet or cane sugar).


    Actually, I do agree with you; I just wanted to have some mention, however tenuous, of sugar vs. HFCS in there, so that it didn't seem like it was a total thread-jack.

    Also, for those playing at home, I probably should have included Squirt as being one of the products under the old A&W Brands umbrella; I wasn't positive until after I posted just who owned it when it got absorbed into what's now DPSG.

  • ||

    Besides missing the boat on the HFCS/Leptin connection, you need to watch your sources. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Council_on_Science_and_Health#Funding

  • kinnath||

    From Wikiepdia:

    A study published recently suggests that the consumption of high amounts of fructose causes leptin resistance and elevated triglycerides in rats. The high fructose diet rats subsequently ate more and gained more weight than controls when fed a high fat, high calorie diet

    There are two separate questions in play:

    1st) Is there any impact to the metabolic system if a person consumes 500 calories of sucrose versus 500 calories of HFCS in a day? As far as I know, the answer is no.

    2nd) Is there an impact to appetite if someone consumes 500 calories of sucrose every days for months or if the sugar source is HFCS? The leptin study indicates there could be an impact to total calorie intake due to leptin suppression due to HFCS.

    There are also studies that indicate that long term consumption of artificial sweeteners triggers long term increase in total calorie intake.

    The real question is do we or do we not expect grown people to pay attention to what they put in their mouths.

    In general, the HFCS scaremongers just piss me off.

  • kinnath||

    By the way, I remember the good ole days when "naturalists" were telling us to use honey instead of sucrose because it's natural. Depending upon the source of the nectar, honey is a balance of glucose and fructose that is very similar to HFCS. Of course honey has minerals and volatile organic compounds that give it a wonderful aroma and flavor.

  • A Public Service||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  • EJM||

    By the way, I remember the good ole days when "naturalists" were telling us to use honey instead of sucrose because it's natural. Depending upon the source of the nectar, honey is a balance of glucose and fructose that is very similar to HFCS. Of course honey has minerals and volatile organic compounds that give it a wonderful aroma and flavor.

    FWIW, there's at least one gourmet-soda maker that apparently uses honey as its primary sweetener.

  • Ward S. Denker||

    I wasn't aware so many libertarians are wacko food purists.

    Glucose and fructose are what make up sucrose (table sugar). There's only two slight differences in HFCS and sucrose.

    One is a very weak chemical bond between the molecules. This is easily broken down by the body during digestion, rendering it a triviality.

    The other difference is that HFCS contains 10% more fructose, which is sweeter than glucose. This is also not a substantial difference in caloric content.

    The subsidies and tariffs need to go because they hinder the market for some to the gain of others, but science has discredited the HFCS obesity link on numerous occasions, yet it keeps springing back up like the belief that vaccinations cause autism.

  • ||

    Now they just need to make Ring Dings with real sugar and I am set!

  • ||

    But if the bags are both determined to be 10 pounds by hanging them from the same scale, then, in fact, they do weigh the same though the bag of feathers has less mass.

    To be fair, this is only the case if the bags are roughly the size of their respective contents. If the bags are identical and inelastic, then the bag of lead has less mass.

  • Douglas Gray||

    They still make Coca-Cola with the original sugar formula in Mexico, all year around, not just at Passover. It comes in thick glass bottles, and some Mexican markets in L.A. carry it. Heck with health debate, it tastes better than the corn syrup stuff, so I buy it. It is more expensive. Where I get it, you buy a 355 ml bottle for about $1.30

  • ||

    Brotherben is absolutely correct.
    Brotherben is absolutely correct.
    Brotherben is absolutely correct.


    Can I get an Amen?

  • ||

    For those who are actually are interested in science:

    Fructose Metabolism By The Brain Increases Food Intake And Obesity, Review Suggests

    "Two papers in the journal PNAS in 2007 and 2008 showed that glucose and fructose act quite differently in the brain (hypothalamus) - glucose decreasing food intake and fructose increasing food intake. Both of these sugars signal in the brain through the malonyl-CoA signaling pathway and have inverse effects on food intake."

    Would you like fries with that?

  • Kevin||

    Why didn't she mention the only reason HFCS is cheaper is because of corn subsidies? Sugar tastes much better in soda than HFCS. The government ruined coke!

    As for the heath part, who cares?

  • ||

    It was a bummer when they used some crappy process that put mercury in HFCS....that PR hit is still costing the HFCS folks. Whether it happened or not it was a PR nightmare that you ignored.


    I pay more for sugar because I don't want to give ADM their fucking subsidy.

  • EJM||

    Kevin: Actually, she did--albeit at the very end...

    One reason is that real sugar will never be able to complete with corn syrup on price (see all the math here). The trend toward natural ingredients, especially sugar, will remain trapped in the premium product market unless corn subsidies are repealed, and sugar taxes revamped. Until then, the brawl between a calorie of high-fructose corn syrup and a calorie of cane sugar will never be a fair fight.

  • </||

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    SENIOR EDITOR!

    Long past time to promote the lovely and talented Miss KM-W.

  • ||

    There's at least one study linking HFCS to increased diabetes incidence, independent on its effect on body weight.

  • ||

    The demonizing of high-fructose corn syrup

    I don't think a better parody of you corporate shills could be made than this.

  • Naga Sadow||

    OH!!!! I wanna click on that link so bad . . . . . . decisions, decisions!

    KMW,

    Will I really be banned if I click on it?

  • Some Guy||

    Yes, you can taste the difference.

    Also, I think most here can agree to hate HFCS just because of corn subsidies.

  • Jeff P||

    For me it's the use of HFCS as a primary ingredient. Go check the ingredients of most french dressings and sweet & sour sauces, HFCS is often listed first, and they still charge four bucks a bottle.

  • Robert||

    I'm 55 YO and a Coke aficionado. Daddy mixed it with my baby bottle milk, before there was HFCS. New Coke was a real let-down to me, darkening my life at the time.

    Chilled or at room temperature, chased with water or not, I have not been able to taste any difference between Passover and HFCS Coca-Cola.

  • ||

    The problem with all these comments is that they focus on corn syrup's taste differences, or the neurophysiological differences. And by the way, I've done a double blind taste test with other foodies, and there is an objective difference. A consensus was that the Mexican Cola was superior!

    The most important thing about NOT drinking corn syrup or eating it is the net result (if more people do not do it) in effecting the damn corn subsidies in this country. The american branded HFCS is the single reason that huge amounts of farmers grow things like corn instead of other more useful crops (like sugar cane, switch grass). This country is corn fed. The ethanol-gas stems from the fact that we already have cooperate welfare for farmers making corn, it was an easy switch to have those same farmers make corn for something else. As you all know corn to ethanol isn't efficient.

    I stopped drinking/consuming HFCS several years back, and I feel great, and my BMI is near ideal. The science of Leptin signaling confirms that the sugars in HFCS change the neurophysiological effects of eating differently.

  • d||

    > The two bags have the same weight and mass. The
    > volumes are likely different.
    >
    Nope, Joe_D was right. The feathers have more mass, since they would inevitably stack up higher and therefore the top of the bag will be farther from the center of the earth. This will mean that you need more feathers to generate the same weight (=force=mass*acceleration).

    Now, on to the HFCS business: I'd bet my tanking mortgage that I've seen solid scientific evidence that HFCS actually has a distinct satisfaction-blocking effect that plain-jane sugar doesn't. Plus, there's some evidence of residual mercury from the refinement process (sugar is just spun out of the sugar water, leaving molasses).

    But then again, I didn't expect much more from the Reason crowd. They spare no scientific expense when it comes to debunking junk economic science, but then unscientifically treat all natural food/medicine fans as if they were superstitious hippie mystics when they try to show that, in fact, nature shouldn't be fucked with when it comes to producing the things you eat and supplement with. Alas...

  • First Little Pig||

    I rarely drink soft drinks but I do prefer the Mexican Coke (readily available here in NM) to the HFCS Coke. I can tell a difference. I have long thought that the New Coke fiasco was merely a way of moving from sugar to HFCS without many consumers noticing.

    An additional concern is that our cultivation of corn in this country is very resource intense, is overly reliant on chemical fertilizers (that have polluted rivers and the gulf of Mexico), and is heavily subsidized.

  • ||

    We can get the Mexican coke here in Arizona as well. It tends to be significantly more expensive (or more accurately it is never "on sale" whereas the American stuff almost always is).

  • Francesco Sinibaldi||

    Sending the memory.

    That candle,
    when the greatest
    level tries to
    forget a loving
    intention, appears
    in my mind
    like a distant
    idea, and also
    this care invents
    an emotion.

    Francesco Sinibaldi

  • Dave W.||

    My working hypothesis was that HFCS caused diabetes more than cane. And I abandoned it. Cane is still better. For the reasons ably noted by other posters above.

  • <b>Extra! Extra!</b>||

    VEEP'S DAUGHTER IS A DUMB SKANKY COKE WHORE

    A friend of the daughter of Vice President Joseph Biden is attempting to hawk a videotape that he claims shows Ashley Biden snorting cocaine at a house party this month in Delaware.

    An anonymous male "friend" of Biden took the video, said Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer representing the seller. Dunlap and another man claiming to be a lawyer showed The Post about 90 seconds of 43-minute tape, saying it was legally obtained and that Biden was aware she was being filmed. The Post refused to pay for the video.

    The video shows a 20-something woman with light skin and long brown hair taking a red straw from her mouth and bending over a desk, inserting the straw into her nostril and snorting from lines of white powder.

    She then stands up and begins talking with other people in the room. A young man looks on from behind her, facing the camera. The lawyers said he was Biden's boyfriend of some years.

    The camera follows the woman from a few feet away, focusing on her as she moves around the room. It appears not to be concealed. At one point she shouts, "Shut the f--- up!"

    The woman appears to resemble the 27-year-old Biden, a social worker who was a visible presence during her father's campaign for the White House.

    The dialogue is difficult to discern, but the woman makes repeated references to the drugs, said the lawyers, who said they viewed the tape about 15 times.

    "At one point she pretty much complains that the line isn't big enough," said the second lawyer, who declined to identify himself. "And she talks about her dad."

    Vice President Biden has been an outspoken crusader against drugs, coining the term "Drug Czar" while campaigning for a more forceful "war on drugs" in 1982.

    The lawyers declined to name the person who shot the video, but said he knew Ashley Biden well and had attended other parties with her at which there were illegal drugs. The lawyers said the shooter used a camera with a hard-drive that he later destroyed, drilling into the device and tossing it into a lake.

    The woman in the video acknowledges the camera in a way that makes it clear she knows she's being taped, the lawyers said, waving at it during a part of the video not shown to The Post.

    No one else in the video is seen using the drugs. The portion of the tape shown to The Post ends shortly after the woman's alleged ingestion.

    The shooter claims that he previously tape-recorded Biden at a party in August but was unsuccessful in his attempts to sell that video, they said.

    A US media company offered $250,000 for the footage and access to the person who shot the tape, according to the lawyers. Another company, based overseas, offered $225,000, they said. The video shooter was hoping to get $2 million for the footage, then lowered his expectation to $400,000, they said.

    The unnamed lawyer hinted that his client had additional information that could embarrass the vice president's daughter.

    "The higher the price, the more he'll reveal," said the lawyer.

    The lawyers said the video shooter was afraid of being identified and prosecuted for his role in the alleged drug use. "He's got a criminal defense attorney," said Dunlap.

    The other lawyer said Biden didn't have secret service protection at the time of the party because she complained about agents blocking her driveway.

    "She complained to her dad about it and he got rid of them," he said.

  • Holden||

    "Weight gain or loss is determined by calories in vs. calories out."

    Sorry Katherine. This may be true for a trash can, but not for a human. Insulin levels and insulin spikes control how much adipose tissue is stored or burned. What food massively spikes insulin levels? High-fructose corn syrup. If caloric intake controlled it you would have to maintain a very consistent intake for your weight not to fluctuate greatly.

  • cuntess||

    Ruth Kava, the director of nutrition at the American Council on Science & Health, a group that debunks food and health panics, says "I don't know how one supposedly distinguishes between 'real' sugar and any other kind!"

    American Council on Science & Health is an industry front group. Research much?

  • ||

    "Nope, Joe_D was right. The feathers have more mass, since they would inevitably stack up higher"

    I'm right, but there's a much larger affect than being farther from the center of the earth. Think about Archimedes... and that the feathers are less dense. I'm assuming the bags are weighed on the earth in the earth's atmosphere. The air exerts an upward buoyant force on both bags, but the feathers get a larger buoyant force because of their greater volume at a given mass. To overcome the extra buoyant force, you need a greater mass of them.

    QED.

    I know, I'm relying on assuming pound-force rather than pound-mass... but the image we all get from the question is weighing the bags on a scale on the surface of the earth.

  • Godwhacker||

    "Which is heavier, a 10-pound bag of sugar, or a 10-pound bag of high-fructose corn syrup?"

    How about the real question: Which is better for you, a 10-pound bag of sugar, or a 10-pound bag of high-fructose corn syrup contaminated with mercury?

    The myopia on Reason lately is epidemic.

  • ||

    While most people use the words interchangeably, weight and heaviness are not the same thing. Weight is a physical property, heaviness a perception.

    A pound of feathers and a pound of rocks have equal weight, but the rocks feel weightier, and so they're heavier.

    That takes us to the really critical question -- will I feel fatter if I consume HFCS instead of sugar?

  • ||

    Any of N,

    You're confusing weight with mass... though the word "weight" isn't a precise scientific term, it generally refers to mass*g... it's why people in space are called "weightless". Mass is a physical property - how much matter an object has.

    There's an interesting side-note to why a pound of rocks or lead "seem" heavier... our brains will automatically compensate for the size of objects when we "feel their weight"... there's something akin to an optical illusion if you take two objects of equal weight but different sizes -- the larger object feels lighter.

    Oh, yeah, ummm... HFCS is bad;)

  • d||

    Perhaps, they hope, natural foods have certain specific advantages over processed alternatives. Maybe the vitamins are more vitaminy, the fats less fatty.

    Oh, dear. This will take more than a few lines to respond to fully, and I don't have the motivation or the time to do it. Here's a few stabs at it, though:

    the vitamins are more vitaminy

    Well, yes, they are. If the natural, unrefined version has all the complementary nutrients needed for full absorption and utilisation (two distinct things: think "passing through the intestinal wall" and "being used in cells"), then, yes, the natural (here read: unrefined) alternative's vitamins are more vitaminy, if that's what you meant. Also, note that synthetic vitamins have time and time again been shown not to be as easily absorbed by the body, needing further processing and "packaging" by the liver in order to be useful for the body. This is why, say, 100% of your RDA/I of vitamin C from a Centrum will NEVER be as effective or "vitaminy" as the same from an orange (the latter also having vitamin D, calcium, 1001 other 'rutins' -- that is, co-enzymes like vitamin C that have not yet been classified by the Almighty FDA as 'vitamins' -- B vitamins and a kajillion other co-enzymes and minerals that the FDA has not deigned to evaluate and give its stamp of approval). Centrum doesn't even come close in terms of 'vitamininess' -- not to mention lowness of levels of nasty toxic heavy metals. The vitamininess disparity becomes all the more acute when you compare to an organically grown orange that was steeped in soil that actually contained a wide variety of minerals (which it cannot manufacture itself), as opposed to a mere sprinkling of NPK.

    the fats less fatty.

    Not sure what you mean to say here. If you're denying the existence of "good" (olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, cholesterol from eggs) and "bad" (trans fatty acids) fats, then you may as well just hand over your scientific credibility card right now. If you mean something else, well, then say it.

    None of this, of course, is an attempt to prop up nannyist policies that ban HFCS or 'trans fats' (= trans fatty acids, actually), but, if it helps erode the political currency that the pro-corn subsidy lobbyists have, then you should do the scientific due diligence of researching these facts and then (assuming you can get over your "natural health"="commie pinko hippie" bias -- as Ron Paul, M.D. did) mention them in an article. But that's for you to do Ms. Mangu-Ward; I have neither the time nor the responsibility to educate you in these matters. You should do it before spilling any more smug (e-)ink over these matters.

  • ||

    kinnath wrote: "The real question is do we or do we not expect grown people to pay attention to what they put in their mouths.

    In general, the HFCS scaremongers just piss me off."

    ie, you want grown people to pay attention to what they put in their mouths, EXCEPT HFCS?

  • ||

    The issue with HFCS is that you never feel full when you are eating it. This is why since the early 80s, we have seen soda products increasing to sizes never before considered.

    Growing up, I was told that my dad's best friend's stepmom would have cases of Tab delivered to their house. Clearly, in the 60s, Tab wasn't made with HFCS or aspertame, which has similar evil qualities. So if someone is going to abuse a product, it won't matter whether it has sugar or HFCS or any other material in it.

    That being said, for nearly 30 years, my generation has watched as we go bigger and bigger on drinks. I once bought a 64-oz mug with the intention of filling it with ice water every day, only to find myself lured by 69-cent refills of raspberry ice tea made with HFCS. However, I have found that my body really does seem to know when I've had enough sugar. When I drink 365 Cola from Whole Foods, or Aloha Maid products here in Hawaii, or even Mexican Coca-Cola, I am quite satiated with 12 oz. I'm not compelled to down ounces and ounces of empty calories.

    And it's an easy sell. Last night at the movies, I asked for a "medium" drink, which is still 32 oz. of HFCS in a cup. The kid at the counter was like, "But for only 25 cents more ..." and suddenly I'm hauling around a 44oz. monstrosity of raspberry ice tea. This is a total loss leader for businesses, given how inexpensive it is to produce fountain soft drinks. It's pure profit for places, so why in the world would anyone want to give up that cash cow?

    The bigger problem seems to be that HFCS and Aspertame are in so many products on the market right now from condiments to soda that it will be hard to see a discernible difference by reducing consumption. The times when I've eaten less to no HCFS -- such as during a trip to London a few years ago -- my weight literally fell off. I lost almost 10lbs in two weeks.

    Things don't have to be labeled "natural." That's a bullshit marketing ploy. But we do need to have HFCS and Aspertame removed from our food supply. Bring back the sugar! Heck, bring the sugar back to Hawaii! Our economy sure could use that boost right now anyway.

    I fully support the shift back to sugar from HFCS/Aspertame. Our nation's health depends on it!

  • d||

    I know, I'm relying on assuming pound-force rather than pound-mass... but the image we all get from the question is weighing the bags on a scale on the surface of the earth.

    Joe_D: the way you've described it, the feathers can't be "on the surface of the earth" in the same way as the lead, since, if they were, you would in effect be crushing the feathers so that they were as dense as the lead, and your "air buoyancy force" argument falls apart (I assume you are referring to the natural repellent force of the air, being at a certain temperature and being made up of certain types of molecules here).

    FUCK! Why am I arguing about this?! Focus, focus! HFCS bad...sugar less bad...OK I'm done with the lead and feathers thing.

  • Brewer||

    For 99% of mankind's time on earth, the primary source of sugar in the diet was fruits, vegetables, and honey. The primary sugar in most of these is fructose in combination with glucose. So for the vast majority of man's existence on earth, sugar was only available in the diet in combination with fiber except for those occasions when when mankind could harvest honey. The sugar make up of honey is mostly fructose in combination with glucose. Sucrose is rarely present in high quantities in honey.

    Mankind didn't learn how to refine sugar from cane until about 2 thousand years ago. So sucrose, as a part of mankind's diet, is a modern invention.

    The problem is not whether the body responds differently to fructose, glucose, or sucrose. The problem is that mankind has figured out how to concentrate sugar, in many forms, and put into the diet in ways that are bodies were never designed to handle.

    HFCS is not evil. It's sugar composition is nearly the same as honey.

    HFCS is artificially cheap because of government intervention. Companies put HFCS in products because it's cheaper than cane sugar. Companies put lots of sugar in their products because we like the way it tastes. Companies sell products in bigger packages because the marginal increase in cost is modest compared to the marginal increase in price. In other words, the profit margin is higher for a 44-oz soda than a 32-oz soda. If cane sugar was cheaper than HFCS, the soda companies would sell us 44-oz sodas with cane sugar it it. We would still buy it, and we would still be fat.

  • Lucas||

    A whole article on HFCS on a "libertarian" website without a single reference to the federal government's tariffs on natural sugar.

    Guys- it may turn out that heroin is good for you, and so is HFCS. But the big point here is the lack of choice- Pepsi and Coke don't bother with cane sugar because ADM has lobbied the government to make it cost ineffective.

    It's articles like this, talking about how not-terrible HFCS might be, that make people think you are paid by other groups with Washington offices to put the good name of libertarian on corporate-lobbying efforts.

  • Robert||

    Yes, but they're driving up the price of corn now with ethanol subsidies. It's a competing use of the same corn.

  • mark||

    Aww snap d! Brought the pain down on KMW.

    I personally prefer the taste of sugar, but I only banned HFCS from my diet when I thought about the twists and turns that corn must go through before it becomes the stuff in Coke cans. Here are the dirty details. Three different enzymes from bacteria and fungi, just to make a sweet syrup! How inefficient compared to the fields of cane in Brazil/Cuba. And amazingly, the corn lobby is not content with supplying the nation's sweeteners, it must also supply the nation's fuel--even though it takes more fuel to fertilize, grow the corn, and process it, than you get out of it! Madness, financed by you and me.

    da brewer said: Glucose, fructose, and sucrose have different effects on the tongue and different mouthfeels, but once they hit the digestive track there just ain't that much difference.
    That is not what you pasted in your post! Just because sucrose is broken easily into fructose/glucose, that does not mean it is just as easily absorbed as HFCS! There is certainly a difference, in taste, rate of consumption, and absorption effects, between sugar and HFCS. Let the market decide this one, no?

    Here's a chart of relative prices of ethanol inputs.

    So how will the politics go forward?
    It seems like a bleary-eyed Obama had some tough words (if they were ever worth anything) for corn syrup in 2008:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG_z2wiOYRc

    But generally the government plan will be regulate regulate regulate, much to the pleasure of health care lobbyists:
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2008/11/obama-and-obesi.html

    I have even heard stories on the radio about stimulus money and health care reform going towards gyms at work and in government buildings, with possible "behavior modification" research applied to recipients of benevolent government health care intervention. But don't quote me on it.

    And so you know, 18-packs of Coca-Cola hecho de Mexico are available at your local Costco (in Texas anyway) for $17.45. In case you need to compare price.

  • TofuSushi||

    HFCS is another attempt by corporate america to kill poor people.

  • Jeremy||

    It seems that the debate is over the caloric content of HFCS. My problem with HFCS is the processing the corn must go through to become HFCS. Part of that process is adding a small amount of acid to the corn, among many other things. Sugar, as far as I know is, grow the cane, squeeze the juice, cook the juice down to sugar. No adding chemicals or other processing to get it.

  • Paula Cassin||

    Would you mind fixing typo right at the top: should be discreetly rather than "discretely"
    Augh it's bugging me.

  • Bruce Watson||

    I've got to say, it's always fun to be called out on someone else's blog. While I'll admit that calling HFCS "the Devil's additive" might have been a bit hyperbolic, I'm going to plead artistic license.

    That having been said, equating HFCS to sugar is fairly misleading. As several people have pointed out, HFCS doesn't sate the consumer, which means that it's possible to eat the stuff almost endlessly (now that I think about it, I seem to recall at least one guy in Dante's Inferno who was condemned to consume garbage endlessly. Maybe my Satanic comment wasn't so far off).

    Beyond that, even if we accept the premise that HFCS and sugar are absolutely equivalent, there really is no excuse for the gargantuan quantities of the stuff that find their way into an almost endless array of foods. Why, for example, do some pickle manufacturers use it in basic Kosher dills?

    Admittedly, those of us who watch out for HFCS are a pretty easy target. We're the ones clogging up aisles at the grocery store, reading labels and weighing the benefits of various brands. We look silly and perhaps a little obsessive. However, dismissing us as cranks really misses the point: humanity somehow managed to survive for thousands of years without this junk added to its food; why, exactly, do we need to have it in everything now? For that matter, does it seem somewhat coincidental that the obesity epidemic and the mass application of HFCS developed at roughly the same time?

  • ||

    Bruce: humanity somehow managed to survive for thousands of years without this junk added to its food; why, exactly, do we need to have it in everything now?

    Not really a fan or a detractor of HFCS (I've cut the majority of sugar of any type except for large amounts of fruit that I eat from my diet for going on 1.5 years now)

    That said, there are a lot of things that humanity 'managed to survive... without' thousands of years ago that I don't want to give up today. The benefits or drawbacks of HFCS (or any other innovation) are (one would hope) independent of whether steppe nomads or Roman subsistence farmers had access to it.

    My suspicion is that us getting fat has mostly coincided with the vast majority of physical labor being automated plus easy access to cheap food. HFCS may be a minor player in that (primarily in that it helps make food cheap)

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

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