Remembering life before the Sugar Prohibition
University of California, San Francisco researchers Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis say it’s time to regulate sugar like tobacco and alcohol, highlighting its potential for abuse, toxicity and pervasiveness in the Western diet that make it a primary culprit of a worldwide health crisis. – Nature, Feb. 1, 2012
I feel great. Today I got carded at Cinnabon. I’ve been 21 for at least 10 years, so it was a real compliment. “I may look young, but I’m old enough to sugar, sugar,” I said to the attractive bouncer. “Lay one on me.” He smiled and let me in.
I didn’t know anyone there, but we all looked a little nervous, because sometimes they run out of rolls. I remember this one time this lady couldn’t stop crying because they were out of everything when she got up to the cashier after waiting in line for two hours.
It didn’t used to be like this. Sugar used to be cheap, believe it or not, and easy to find. You could even get it at the grocery store!
It started one year a few weeks before Valentine’s Day of all things. These researchers, from San Francisco, of course, who are probably a bunch of humorless vegans, wrote in a scholarly publication that sugar is so toxic it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
My friends and I all laughed about it and made a point to give each more chocolate than usual on Valentine’s Day.
But then some members of Congress (who I bet would ban dancing in America if it were up to them) asked FDA to consider regulating they only thing besides salt that makes stuff taste good.
The FDA finally agreed with the vegan researchers and the dance-hating congress members and put photos of really fat people on sugar-laden items with warnings:
When you eat candy bars, cakes and cookies, even lollipops, you ingest the drug sugar. Sugar can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems.
Just because it’s true, did they have to say it?
Next came the TV commercials:
“This is your body,” one said, showing a picture of a beautiful skinny woman. Then they showed a woman at least twice her size: “This is your body on sugar.”
Then they taxed everything with sugar in it. A Nestle’s Crunch now costs $9.99. The cinnamon swirl I just bought is going to have to last me three weeks.
They banned sugar in the schools, then in federal buildings and finally in any workplace with more than 50 employees. The sugar high everyone used to talk about became illegal, and Driving While Sweet (DWS) became a new criminal offense.
One time I was at a party and had three pieces of cake. Someone took my car keys away.
Soon enough, high school parking lots were full of kids huddled around a bag of white powder. Eventually sugar on the black market sold for almost as much as cocaine.
Those of us still on sugar were ostracized. I remember eating a Snicker’s Bar (and it was only a mini!) outside my building at work just after the FDA made its bittersweet announcement. I got a lot of dirty looks and some people covered their mouths, as though they might accidentally inhale a sugar molecule just walking by.
I stopped sugaring at work right away. And then I began meeting strangers in the dark of night for a bag of Domino’s White or C&H Brown.
I got hopeful when the FDA began to consider legalizing medicinal sugar. At last, I thought, I would be able to get my sugar high without worrying about getting arrested. Some other researchers had found that people like me get too depressed without sugar. Psychiatrists starting joking about how they could finally prescribe sugar pills that would actually work.
The problem was that the doctors decided it would work best intravenously. I decided a shot in the butt just wouldn’t do it for me. The only kind of sugar shot I wanted was the kind you get in a glass. So now I hang out at the new sweeteasies. I just hope I’m not around for the next St. Valentine’s Massacre.