In the Annals of Chutzpah Big Sugar Takes the Cake

The Urban Dictionary defines chutzpah as "unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall." An advertisement that ran earlier this month in the Washington Post in support of maintaining sugar import quotas by the American Sugar Alliance fits that definition to a "T." See below:

Big SugarCredit: Big Sugar

Never mind that lifting the import quotas would benefit candy companies, it would also benefit consumers to the tune of nearly $3 billion per year. Congress has been propping up Big Sugar for decades. This needs to stop! Greed indeed.

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.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    That ad is clumsy, economically ignorant and shows a corn/soybean farm. But it is in the WaPo, so it'll probably get the job done.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Doesn't most American-made sugar come from corn?

  • sarcasmic||

    No.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Wait, there is a difference between cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup?

    /derp

  • Live Free or Diet||

    For those who ask seriously if there's a difference:
    Taste,yes. Metabolically, no.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    A couple of months ago my local grocer tried to pass off sucrose-flavored Coke, intended for Passover celebrations, as the regular Coke after our local Jews didn't turn out to buy it. Needless to say I made them regret that.

  • ||

    Um, what? You know people purposely seek that stuff out because they prefer it, right? Did you actually not like it?

  • sarcasmic||

    Pepsi Throwback is da bomb!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It tasted like watered down pancake syrup.

    Obviously the locals weren't pleased with it because there were dozens of 2L bottles of it on the shelf where the regular coke is supposed to be for like a week afterward, until I pulled a Col. Guano on them and alerted the Coca Cola Company to what they were doing. They sent me a bunch of coupons for free coke and assured me they would give the local store the riot act. Next day the Gentile Coke was back on the shelf, and the yellow-capped (?!) Jew-Coke had been shipped off to Lord knows where for disposal.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    yellow-capped (?!)

    Really? Did it have a star on it as well?

  • ||

    You are quite literally the first person I have ever encountered who didn't prefer it. I'm used to people scouring stores ahead of Passover to snap it all up for months in advance.

    And yes, Ptah-Hotep, it's yellow-capped and has a star along with other kosher info.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Mine actually had a triangle on the cap saying CRC (I assume some certification org, not the math table publishers).

    Other than the "sucrose" as the first ingredient, the actual label on the bottle was indistinguishable from regular Coke. Which is why Coca Cola sent me the coupons because I accused them of fraud and threatened to get the Atty General involved.

  • Fluffy||

    Um...how is it fraud?

    Coke gets to say what Coke is, at any particular instant in time. Metaphysically.

    They could switch to bottling Warty's piss today. As soon as they assert, "This is Coke," it is.

    If they called it orange juice, you'd have an issue. But Coke is whatever the Coca-Cola Bottling Company says it is.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    As usual you have issues with ambiguity.

    Fraud can occur when the buyer has a reasonable expectation about the product that is not fulfilled, and the seller does not advise the buyer about this defect. For example, if I sell you a car with no engine, and don't advise you of the lack of an engine, you can go after me for fraud even if I never stated that the car had an engine.

  • ||

    We should go back to caveat emptor.

  • NeonCat||

    Did you also tell them you don't approve of their having the labor organizers in Columbia murdered? WTF does the Coca-Cola Corporation in Atlanta have to do with product offered by a grocer in Pittsburgh? Product which was, by the way, a lot closer to the way Coke was formulated until the early 80s when protectionist policies raised the price of cane sugar higher than HFCS. If you prefer the HFCS, fine, but don't act like some terrible fraud was being perpetrated. You acted like a crank, they threw coupons at you.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Was in Atlanta on business this week and visited their "world's largest aquarium." Across from it was something called "World of Coca-Cola." No idea what was inside but it was $32 a person to find out. I cannot imagine why someone would pay that kind of money for what sounds like a big advertisement.

  • ||

    I was disappointed when I learned that they wouldn't be selling Kosher for Passover Coke in CA this year. Luckily we have ready access to Mexican Coke, which is sugar based and delicious.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Sorry, incidents like this are how the Nazis were able to come to power. That and our local synagogue (back in Pgh) holding weddings in the street and blocking off traffic for hours.

    I know the horrors of the Third Retch in detail, so I won't be lured, but what about the 16 year old kid who doesn't know any better?

  • ||

    Well, if it happens again next year, you can probably make some cash selling it to foodies. I'm not kidding.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I don't live in a Jewish neighborhood anymore, so it probably won't, but thanks for the tip on the arbitrage opportunity.

  • Redmanfms||

    Sorry, incidents like this are how the Nazis were able to come to power. That and our local synagogue (back in Pgh) holding weddings in the street and blocking off traffic for hours.

    You cannot possibly be serious with this shit.

    Jew Coke and street weddings is what lead to the Holocaust? Fucking really Tulpa?

  • SIV||

    I thought Kosher Coke was sweetened with gentile baby blood?

  • Brandybuck||

    My local Fresh-n-Easy has started carrying sucrose sweetend Mexican Coke. Awesome!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Yes, there is, but both are sugar.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And no difference between a corn plant and sugar cane?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Where did I say there wasn't? Obviously ASA has nothing to do with corn producers directly, but the sugar protectionism also benefits corn producers because it props up the entire HFCS industry. Without the protectionism HFCS might not even be produced in significant quantities.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And you wonder why people say you are deliberately obtuse - I scorned the article attacking "Big Candy" for showing a corn/soybean farm (look at the silo for a hint) and you come up with a tangential derp about sugar from corn.

    Man, if you want to play this role, you feel free.... hint: it isn't making you look particularly sharp.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Did you actually read the ad? One of their claims is that doing as "Big Candy" wants will harm American farmers. Corn farmers WOULD be negatively affected by the tariffs being lifted. So a picture of a corn farm is appropriate for their message.

    I continue to be amazed that people who nitpick -- as you were doing here -- then attack me as a nitpicker/contrarian when I point out that the nitpick isn't justified. To an unbiased reader (ie, not the glib gang) it ain't gonna be me who has sharpness appearance problems in this dispute.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Keep it up - imports of corn going to be a problem for these folks, or is it places like Brazil that grow cane?

    Are you aware of what corn prices are like now? [ethanol mandates, world shortages] How the #$%& isn't it straight up deception or derp to claim that US corn farmers will go under if we have an open sugar market?

    You want to stand with the dirt slurpers at the ASA, go right ahead.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I should clarify that I don't support the tariffs, just think the ad makes sense for their message.

  • robc||

    Corn farmers WOULD be negatively affected by the tariffs being lifted.

    Good. They can switch back to Barley.

  • Rasilio||

    Actually it would still be produced because there are some applications where HFCS is the only thing which will work, the superior tasting Sucrose product just does not have the right chemical properties

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I remember reading that kept bees are fed HFCS which amazed me.

  • CE||

    A lot of sugar comes from sugar beets, not sugar cane.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Actually most American-made sugar comes from the government.

    Also refined sugars used in most candies and HFCS are not the same thing. But they are both chemically sugars, so I'm sure that's all that matters to your compulsive contrarianism.

  • ||

    Tulpa was incredibly stupid...again? Tell me it isn't so!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Sucrose ("regular sugar") has an ester link between the glucose and fructose, where HFCS does not.

    It might be different in candy making, but that simple link is broken by the gut in a split second so it doesn't make any difference to you body.

  • Zeb||

    HFCS also has a higher proportion of fructose/glucose than sucrose, which is 50/50.

  • robc||

    HFCS is ~55/45.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    That ratio difference is tiny in the quantities the public is eating. People who are prone to these problems are unlikely to gain clinical benefit from a 5-10% reduction in fructose.

  • Juice||

    It's not an ester, it's a glycosidic bond.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    By the fact that it joins one sugar molecule to something else, true. But the point I was actually going for was that there's a simple oxygen bond between the two that human digestion breaks immediately. There is no meaningful difference in the metabolizing of HFCS and sucrose.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Also refined sugars used in most candies and HFCS are not the same thing.

    True, but reducing the sugar protectionism would also negatively affect the market for HFCS.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you mean lower priced goods for consumers is negative, then yes. Although I personally do not believe that people having more money in their pockets is a bad thing. I guess that makes me weird.

  • Jerryskids||

    True, but reducing the sugar protectionism would also negatively affect the market for HFCS.

    Define 'negatively'.

    Do you mean cheap sugar would mean consumers would save money by abandoning the relatively high-priced sugar substitute we use?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I should make clear that I'm against the protectionism/sugar tarriffs.

    But it would be bad for HFCS producers and corn producers (though much less for the latter since they have plenty of other outlets for corn).

  • sarcasmic||

    As long as there are ethanol mandates, corn producers will be fine.

  • CE||

    That little bag of sugar you put in your coffee? You didn't grow and refine that.

  • UnCivilServant||

    In the US, it's either Sugar Beet or Cane. HFCS isn't the primary sweetener.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    According to the USDA site, beet/cane sugar production in the 2000s averaged 8.1M short tons raw value, while HFCS production averaged 9.2M short tons dry weight. Not sure what "raw value" means and whether that makes a big difference.

  • Brett L||

    Coca-Cola begs to differ.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sugar Coke is definitely better tasting. I bought some (Mexican imported) for the kids, and they loved it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Most coke imported from Mexico doesn't taste good at all.

  • sarcasmic||

    Most coke imported from Mexico doesn't taste good at all.

    So the people who like it are wrong?

  • Jerryskids||

    Plus it messes up your sinuses.

  • ||

    That's fine that you don't prefer it, but there's a demand for it even though American Coke is readily available everywhere. Some people prefer the slightly less harsh and slightly sweeter balance of Mexican Coke. Shit, some people prefer the taste of diet Coke, which I don't find appealing at all.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You're doing it wrong, Jesse. You're not supposed to frame matters of taste as mere preferences, but as existential statements of right and wrong.

    Where you said that you don't find the taste of Diet Coke appealing, Tulpa would say that Diet Coke drinkers are criminal-coddling nihilists. Try the baseless sanctimony on for size. I think you'll like it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I have no problem with people having different tastes, but this was a question of fraud. The sucrose-flavored coke was being passed off as the HFCS-flavored kind.

    If most people do prefer sucrose-flavored coke, why isn't that the more commonly produced brand? The price might have to go up by a quarter to pay for the more expensive sugar, but wouldn't people willingly pay that? Have we a market failure here?

  • ||

    The sucrose-flavored coke was being passed off as the HFCS-flavored kind.

    You yourself said the ingredients list was accurate, and the cap was a different color. Clearly, other people have learned what this meant. Not to mention Fluffy's point above.

    But regardless, my understanding is that they use HFCS because it's cheaper, and that's it. I don't know if it's a market failure or if people really wouldn't pay extra. I know some would, but maybe Coke doesn't think enough would.

  • AuH20||

    Seriously, who likes the taste of Diet Soda? I mean enjoy it, not do it for health/weight reasons.

  • Rasilio||

    Some diet fruit based soda's are pretty good (Orange, Grape, etc.) but diet cola is just not worth drinking unless you mix it with something else.

    A little Grenadine or Mojito mix, or even Orange Juice for example.

  • KDN||

    Seriously, who likes the taste of Diet Soda? I mean enjoy it, not do it for health/weight reasons.

    I know a ton of people that do, all but one of them women including my wife. I actually prefer Coke Zero to the regular stuff for some reason (probably texture), but nothing holds a candle to the sodas made with real sugar.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I was attempting a drug joke.... obviously failed. Maybe I need to take some time off and retool.

  • ||

    If by "retool" you mean "do some coke," that could help.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Went right over my head. Then again, I'm still pissed that Coke went to the less tasty corn syrup thirty years ago.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was attempting a drug joke.... obviously failed

    If you had ever done coke you'd know that it actually tastes pretty good. Well, except crack. That stuff tastes like burnt rubber.

  • ||

    Nothing, nothing, nothing tastes good when it's dripping down the back of your throat. Sorry.

  • sarcasmic||

    I guess that answers the "spit or swallow" question.

  • ||

    I never said something tasting bad was a reason not to do it. (Besides, on a serious note, that's totally different from post-nasal drip, drug-related or otherwise.)

  • sarcasmic||

    You take all the fun out of being a wise-ass.

  • ||

    I do what I can.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • ||

    Which is why a true gentleman aims for the face.

    I'd categorize that as simulated watersports rather than simulated facial.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    As I've learned from GGG* the difference is academic.

    *You all know what I'm talking about, don't pretend that you don't.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Does contact with a hooker's ass make the taste better?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Mexican Coke is obviously popular. It's showing up all over the place here--grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, the works. For a while, the only place I could get it was Fresh Market (kind of a less granola Whole Foods).

    I can't figure why Coke isn't selling a Sugar Coke here directly, except that it must have something to do with sugar politics.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, well, de gustibus non est disputandum. I think it's considerably better than corn syrup Coke.

    I had sugar Coke in Malaysia, too, which was a little different. Very tasty.

  • AuH20||

    Fanta is really good in Europe, but shitty elsewhere.

  • ||

    Yeah, the Coke in Malaysia was tasty, although the fresh squeezed cane juice and teh tarik did a better job of holding my attention.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The food there is great. I've only found one Malaysian restaurant in the U.S. ever since, and that was in DC.

  • ||

    We had a halal Malaysian place between my home and work for a few years. A friend who grew up in Malaysia loved it and would drive down to where I live to grab dinner a few times a year. We went one night and the place was shuttered. It's now a sports bar.

  • Pro Libertate||

    This annoys me. I demand a good Malaysian restaurant! Preferably in Tampa!

  • KDN||

    There's a Sino-Malaysian place in a strip mall near my office and another one two towns over from where I'm moving; I've long wanted to check one of them out. What's on the offering at these places? Is it similar to Chinese or Thai, or is it something else entirely?

  • ||

    It's an interesting mash-up of south Asian/Indian and Chinese culinary influences. It's not like Thai, I don't recall coming across lemongrass or galangal in anything Malaysian I've had.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Indonesian is similar.

  • Juice||

    Malaysia Kopitam?

  • BakedPenguin||

    That ad is clumsy, economically ignorant and shows a corn/soybean farm

    What? You need to visit South Florida, and see their majestic sugar silos.

  • CE||

    Yeah, when you mess with Big Candy, you're clearly tampering with our vital food supplies.

  • sarcasmic||

    Profits for Big Candy = Bad

    Profits for Big Sugar = Good

    gotcha

  • Doctor Whom||

    Profits for someone else = bad.

    Profits for us = good.

  • ||

    An industry that needs to be subsidized is subsidized because it cannot make a profit. There is no profit, just taxpayer money handouts.

  • sarcasmic||

    Technically they're not subsided since money is not taken from us and given to them.
    However they are subsidized in the sense that consumers are forced to pay more money fom products than we would without government interference.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    While I agree a 'tariff' doesn't appear to be a subsidy from a technical standpoint, I think there is a good argument to be made that it is in that implementing the tariff statutes has a real cost which is shared by all taxpayers, not just those benefiting.

  • Jerryskids||

    As P. J. pointed out - people are generally smart enough to do what it pays them to do already, the government paying people to do what they would not otherwise do is invariably the government paying them to do something stupid.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    White gold! Texas tea... sweetener!

  • Sevo||

    Jeeze, they left out the obligatory Kock reference!
    Anyhow, this is the quickest link I found:
    "In the U.S., raw sugar can cost twice the world average."
    http://www.npr.org/2013/03/28/.....ritics-say

  • ||

    I am shocked. NPR left out something.

    "Sugar costs are a complicated combination of import restrictions, production quotas and a kind of guaranteed price."

    They left out the environmental regulations, which are a substantial portion of the cost.

  • Brett L||

    They left out the environmental regulations, which are a substantial portion of the cost.

    Don't defend those assholes. Long before the EPA had a stick to beat them with, the US Sugar guys were holding contests to be the first to the teat.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Together with the food nannies, this is the new Baptists+Bootleggers alliance.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Sugar is a no-cost commodity program because sugar farmers do not receive subsidy checks.

    Funny, but it seems to me that artificially keeping prices high does, in fact, have a cost.

  • ||

    Don't be ridiculous. As if the government is supposed to calculate the cost of its policies to individuals!

  • Doctor Whom||

    Also, other people's money is infinite.

  • ||

    If we dont call it a subsidy, it isnt. Shhhhhh!

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Doctor Whom||

    Shorter ASA: Gimmme gimme gimme because FYTW.

  • ||

    I really wish instead of "food security" they had actually said "sugar security." This really is insane though.

  • Hugh Akston||

  • Brandon||

    How big does something have to be to qualify for the capital "Big x?"
    How is it measured? Is it based on gross revenue, number of employees, number of lobbyists? We need to be consistent here.

  • $park¥||

    Size is irrelevant, it's determined by degree of evilness.

  • Brandon||

    So really, everything comes back to the extraordinarily accurate "Big Government."

  • RightNut||

    The ad lost me at BIG CANDY. I couldn't read the rest without laughing and thinking about Willy Wonka/M&M jokes.

    I can see it clearly, the red M&M slyly handing money stained by chocolate over to a congressman.

    A whistleblower umpa lumpa testifying before congress about how Willy Wonka illegally imports extra sugar from abroad...

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I heard the Green M&M was part of a "honey pot" trap involving Mike & Ike!

  • sarcasmic||

    I heard some sugar exec on the radio defending the policy by saying that lower sugar prices would not be passed down to consumers, but instead would turn into profits for greedy food corporations. Just as the defenders of shoe tariffs say that lower shoe prices would turn into profits for greedy shoe retail corporations.
    Those greedy profit seeking corporations!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, because there is no such thing as competition. Heck, if Cuba ever gets free, it'll kill in sugar production, like it used to.

  • ||

    A professor of mine specialized in Cuban history. He had to get his congressman to sign off on a visa for him to go down and study in Havana. According to him while he was waiting in his congressman's office he heard him yelling about how we needed to embargo Canadian candy because they use "red sugar" from Cuba. He thought he wasn't going to be able to get the visa (he did).

  • AuH20||

    Man, Red Sugar Coke is the best.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's the soda of oppression.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    There's a reason they call it "blood sugar".

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    So, speculative profits for greedy food corporations versus definite profits for greedy sugar producers?

  • Zeb||

    How the fuck do people like that think prices are determined? I'm sure the sugar exec knows how it really works, but a lot of people seem to just think that they magically happen and have nothing to do with markets or input costs. It's like people who think that an insurance mandate won't affect new job creation.

  • sarcasmic||

    Betting on ignorance of basic economics is a winner more often than not.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, I always thought it was a government committee within the Department of Commerce that set all prices.

  • Nazdrakke||

    A whistleblower umpa lumpa testifying before congress

    BIG CANDYGATE?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I was thinking of Charleston Chew when I read that...

  • Jerryskids||

    You may snicker at such things, but a hundred grand here and there is mounds of money, a veritable free payday for the sugar companies, not just a bit o' honey to sweeten the pot.

    And so forth.

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    +3 musketeers

  • CE||

    Big Candy? Are those the two dollar bars?

  • ||

    And how can I subscribe to these Annals of Chutzpah?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Comes with a two year subscription to Reason!

  • Fluffy||

    You can get a two for one with my new publication, The Journals of Dickishness.

    The Journals features nothing but reposts of my posts here, just as a warning.

  • ||

    I'd like to know why only gall gets to be "unmitigated."

    Also, why does "impending" only proceed "doom" or "nuptuals"?

  • phandaal||

    Reminds me of those ridiculous LightSquared ads that ran in the Metro a while back.

    Washingtonians seem to eat this shit up too. Pun slightly intended.

  • CE||

    Because what would sugar beet farmers be able to grow in that dirt if we removed the sugar subsidies and discovered that growing sugar beets isn't economically viable?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'll raise my glass of homemade cherry phosphate and pour a little for my homies who are still dependent on Big Soda to get their fix.

    Sad really.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

  • Sam Grove||

    If you place a sheet of black (craft) paper behind a newspaper or magazine article before scanning, there will be less bleed through of the image on the back side.

  • Mudhen||

    Bring back the $0.05 candy bar!

  • Invisible Finger||

    We abolished slavery and then immediately began agriculture subsidies.

    Essentially that's only partially abolishing slavery by transferring ownership of the slaves.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I was under the impression ag subsidies began after WWI.

  • daveInAustin||

    A better picture for the ad. The runoff from the sugar cane fields flowing into the St. Lucie River.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement