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"Well, you know what they say about it..."

Hfcs1 As (I hope) some of you have noticed, I have been away for awhile. Thanks to some fortuitous circumstances and undeserved kindness (thank you SO much, Chuck and Suzanne), I have spent much of the past three weeks in Portugal. Most of the time we were in the middle of nowhere, so internet access was a limited commodity, and American television was right out. So imagine my surprise when, having just connected cable at my new apartment, I turned on the Food Network to find this ad from the Corn Refiners of America.

Yeah, Mr. Smarty McHealthypants! There is nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup; its made from F@$#ing CORN for Christ's sake! All natural and all American! What you got to say to that? Yeah, that's what I thought... Eat your popsicle, commie.

Hfcs9But seriously, what the hell? I see from Youtube that this spot has been out for almost two months — how'd I miss this? This one, and the second one I found on Youtube, got me pretty riled up. I mean... of course high fructose corn syrup is bad, right? It is the central raw material in our manufactured food culture, where real food is less common than the Frankenfoods that HFCS has made possible. It is also both a product of and a reason for our ridiculous domestic farming system, where farmers are rewarded for growing high-yield corn varieties over real, useful grains like wheat and barley. And the group's claim that HFCS is a "natural product" is laughable, as it is more heavily processed than any other nutritive sweetener out there, and requires the use of a genetically modified enzyme for its very production!

Though, to be fair, it is true that the most common form of HFCS has the same amount of calories as an equal portion of table sugar or honey, and it is pretty close in chemical structure to sucrose, minus a bond or two. Considering this, is it right to condemn HFCS as the source of our nation's health woes? If sugar were the cheaper alternative, would we not abuse that similarly? Is the popsicle zombie in the ad correct when she says that HFCS is fine in moderation? Is high fructose corn syrup just the whipping boy of an America that isn't willing to take responsibility for its own lack of willpower? Is anyone else overcome with an intense desire to run out and buy a jug of delicious Red Drink? I'm curious as to what you guys think. Please chime in and let me know if I'm drinking the wrong sort of Kool-Aid.



Isn't ethanol made from corn? I bet that is healthy in your kid's juice too. I hadn't seen these ads, but they scare me. You know you're desperate when you are trying to convince people that your product is just as healthy as white sugar.

The Pumpernickel

I agree...the whole thing scares me. It reminds me of splenda's marketing angle: tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar. No, splenda is a chemical matter what it originally came from.

Corn syrup is no more like corn than splenda is to sugar.


I suspect that the "moderate" dose of HFCS is achieved sometime before breakfast for many people. It's everywhere, in everything.

there is no shortage of peer reviewed studies showing adverse effects (see Wikipedia for some, as well as dissenting studies).

I also seem to recall something about artificial sugars and the neuroscience aspect of things, where the artificial sweeteners were triggering the 'eating' neurological response without the corresponding 'satiated' response. I can't find a link to that one, though.

Last but not least, drink Coke with sugar (found at Passover and in many foreign countries), then drink the HFCS version. I can taste a huge difference. (Jones Cola is decently close to the sugar-soke taste, and also contains no HFCS)


To follow up on the last few comments about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), I would like to offer my knowledge as a Registered Dietitian. First, let's be clear, HFCS is NOT natural. It is wrong for the Corn Refiners Association, the Corn Growers of America, and others who are deceiving the public to state HFCS can claim the label “natural.” I am alarmed that these associations are placing the label “natural” on HFCS and creating advertisements that make it seem as though those who try to avoid products with HFCS are the ones who are mistaken.

Here is a quote from Geraldine June, supervisor of the Product Evaluation and Labeling team at FDA's Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, "The use of synthetic fixing agents in the enzyme preparation, which is then used to produce HFCS, would not be consistent with our … policy regarding the use of the term 'natural.' Consequently, we would object to the use of the term 'natural' on a product containing HFCS." I read this as clearly stating HFCS is not natural.


People often assume since HFCS is similar to sugar in calorie content therefore it is not as harmful. But here is something to consider, HFCS is NOT sugar, as a result our bodies do not recognize it as sugar and leads us to believe the sweetness we crave has not been satisfied. This often leads to consequences like overeating products containing HFCS. One commenter mentioned Coke made with sugar tasted much better than the Coke made with HFCS. That is because his body recognized the Coke contained sugar, a taste we learn as infants from breast milk, and trigged hormones to digest the product as sugar. HFCS does not have the same digestive effect. Please see this article from Medscape:

It is true that most foods can fit into a healthy diet, consumed in moderation, and in proper portion sizes. I am not advocating for anyone to throw out all products made with HFCS. You would lose 90% of your groceries, since HFCS is an ingredient in more processed foods than you may want to know about. I am an advocate for informed consumers and believe that the public should be able to easily recognize products for what they are, like sugar as natural and HFCS as a processed food with chemical alterations and no “natural” label from the FDA.

The point to take home is that these commercials and ad campaign are leading the public astray. It is hard enough to keep up with all of the items on a nutrition label. We should at least have the confidence that what we are consuming is natural. In the case of HFCS, it is not.
Melanie Ann Fagen

Taresa Schmidt

has anyone read "Ominvore's Dilema"? That will open your eyes about corn and the zillion ways we've managed to mutilate, ingest and exploit it...

Jim P.

Aren't we supposed to "exploit" corn?

Anyway, I think its a clever and effective ad campaign.

And let us not be so quick to demonize those evil manufacturers of HFCS: if the sugar industry wasn't granted so many political favors in the form of tariffs, sugar would be much cheaper in this country and HFCS wouldn't even be an issue.

Jim P.

Aren't we supposed to "exploit" corn?

Anyway, I think its a clever and effective ad campaign.

And let us not be so quick to demonize those evil manufacturers of HFCS: if the sugar industry wasn't granted so many political favors in the form of tariffs, sugar would be much cheaper in this country and HFCS wouldn't even be an issue.


These ads make me so furious I haven't been able to write about them myself. Petroleum is "natural" too, why don't we just drink that? And, as others have pointed out, it is virtually impossible to eat it in moderation if you eat any commercially-prepared products. It's in bread, cereal, V-8, etc.; avoiding junk food doesn't get you away from it.

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