As a child in the D.C. suburbs the fun and sweetness of summer was often punctuated with a rocket pop (they are now called victory pops in some places, very Orwellian I know). Delicious…energy packed…a little crash after but so what? It was the height of the Cold War and this little red, white, and blue treat was all the rage in the neighborhood. I bet you have had one somewhere along the way. Little did I know that this amazing frozen treat was made possible by an invention 20 years earlier by Dr. Y. Takasaki at the Agency of Industrial Science Industry in Japan. The invention was High Fructose Corn Syrup! You may have heard of it, it is ubiquitous in contemporary food. Who would have thought during World War 2, that in the future, amongst other great inventions, the Japanese would develop one of the most pivotal food products the world has ever known…one that would quite literally, change the face of America!
Does high fructose corn syrup taste as good as plain old sugar? I was at a friend’s house recently and he asked me if I wanted a Coke. I told him I gave up junk food, especially obvious junk food, such as soda. He agreed that soda is terrible stuff but encouraged me to try one of his cokes. I asked him why and he said that it was Mexican coke made with real sugar. I was still hesitant. Finally he persuaded me to try a few sips next to a few sips of regular coke (he needs to give up drinking soda). I did try a few sips and it was way better than the HFSC coke. WAY better. One man’s opinion.
A recent Princeton University study found that rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than rats with access to regular sugar when quantities were equal. Additionally, long term consumption of the high fructose corn syrup caused the rats to experience abnormal increases in fat, especially in their abdomens, and spiked their triglycerides. Conclusion,…if your looking for an obese pet rat that’s not going to live very long, go to Princeton. Seriously though, the strong conclusion, is that high fructose corn syrup is worse for you than other sweeteners including regular old sugar. Professor Hoebel said, “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”
This is an important finding in light of the recent campaign by the High Fructose Corn Syrup industry to position their very borderline product as equal to regular sweeteners. If you haven’t seen the HFCS commercials, I HIGHLY recommend you check them out. They are the funniest spots I have seen in a long time!
If you have kids you can make some great healthy alternatives to rocket pops, it’s actually a fun process. Of course you will need popsicle molds. Yogurt and crushed fruit works wonderfully for both flavor and color! Believe it or not, vanilla coconut milk yogurt tastes great and freezes very nicely as well. For sweeteners try vanilla creme stevia, organic honey, or organic agave!
Here’s to good memories!