University Library News

Professor Carolyn de la Peña to speak on "Empty Pleasures"

September 29, 2010:

The University Library is pleased to sponsor an event featuring
Carolyn de la Peña
UC Davis Professor of American Studies
who will speak on the topic of her new book

Empty Pleasures
The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda

This event is open to the public and will be held in
the Peter J. Shields Library Lobby

Friday, October 15, 2010
6:00 p.m.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

Sugar substitutes have been a part of American life since saccharin was introduced at the 1893 World's Fair. In Empty Pleasures, the first history of artificial sweeteners in the United States, Carolyn de la Peña blends popular culture with business and women's history, examining the invention, production, marketing, regulation, and consumption of sugar substitutes such as saccharin, Sucaryl, NutraSweet, and Splenda. She describes how saccharin, an accidental laboratory by-product, was transformed from a perceived adulterant into a healthy ingredient. As food producers and pharmaceutical companies worked together to create diet products, savvy women's magazine writers and editors promoted artificially sweetened foods as ideal, modern weight-loss aids, and early diet-plan entrepreneurs built menus and fortunes around pleasurable dieting made possible by artificial sweeteners.

NutraSweet, Splenda, and their predecessors have enjoyed enormous success by promising that Americans, especially women, can "have their cake and eat it too," but Empty Pleasures argues that these "sweet cheats" have fostered troubling and unsustainable eating habits and that the promises of artificial sweeteners are ultimately too good to be true.

(book blurb from University of North Carolina Press)

Book cover from Empty Pleasures

 

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