Sucralose. I`m against it. If this makes you wonder why someone so comfortable with modern Western pressures like fluoride and silver amalgam fillings would take a stand against such a harmless yellow-packaged artificial sweetener, be aware that I collect hypocrisies like Karl Rove collects arterial plaque.

A man so wretched that his more accessible and telegenic golem is DICK CHENEY.

Sucralose, marketed under the brand name Splenda, first came to my attention when in 2002 its presence in Diet Cheerwine elicited a systematic allergic reaction from my boyfriend at the time — which is to say, a red, itching, burning rash covering his neck and torso. Some online research (always fully reliable) revealed this experience not to be an isolated one. People are always having hideous disfiguring reactions to sucralose and putting up pictures of it. I assimilated this knowledge, then continued chewing Dentyne Fire with elan.

You have to look kinda close to see whether sucralose is in something. You may get the Splenda logo on the front of the label, but if you don’t it’s a quick trip to the nutrition facts to check the ingredients (and, believe me, in something like Diet Sunkist, there are A LOT, which is probably another quick tip I should stop drinking it). I can’t tell you how many times I would offer my post-traumatic-rash boyfriend a sip of soda or piece of gum when he would ask, “Does it have sucralose in it?” And I would say, “Durr, I don’t know.” And then there would be sucralose in it. (Savvy Consumer Magazine, I am awaiting your eager call!)

Mmm. Renal failure.

They make sucralose by taking a normal, God-fearing sugar molecule, popping off three normal, God-fearing carbonyhydrohappywhatever chains, and sticking on three atoms of CHLORINE instead. Does this send up a red flag for anybody? You know, CHLORINE? I`m as laid back about drinking pool water and using bleached tampons as the next guy, but that’s got to make for a lot of chlorine in a cup of sucralose, and, yeah, if you put a little on your tongue there’s a definite high-dive-low-end-no-running-adult-swim-corn-dogs-at-the-snack-bar taste to it.

Oh, and one other thing. When you dump a cup of sucralose in with the old eggs and butter, it HISSES. That. Is not. Normal.

Of course, I still consume it periodically, because I am stupid and three years of accumulated research and anecdotal evidence is no match for a fizzy orange soda put in front of me OMG it tastes like sunshine!

But that’s me, and I live on the edge like that, alla time letting my bare feet touch the locker room floor and drying my hands on my shirttail and stuff. My kind of barely-contained chaos is not the lifestyle a little kid needs to lead.

That’s why when they came out with low-sugar Trix and Lucky Charms and crap, it freaked me the eff out. Because how is General Mills accomplishing this masterful feat? Oh, yeah — SUCRALOSE. And it’s not being marketed like “Hey, Echo Generation watching Pulp Fiction on DVD,” it’s being marketed like “Hey, Moms, here’s how to tweak your ADHD six-year-old who weighs 100 lbs!”

It’s only like 130 calories a cup. Maybe kids should eat something lower in AIR.

Dude. This is NOT a good trade off. Do NOT be feeding your kids sketchy suspicious artificial sweeteners that only passed half the number of clinical safety trials as aspartame, which in turn only passed half the number of saccharin. I mean, I love and believe in aspartame, and would campaign as long and hard and unproductively for it as I did Howard Dean, but I would not feel good about feeding it to poor unsuspecting developing bodies whose North American nutrition condition is already fighting an uphill battle.

My only hope is the people who are relying on Trix and Lucky Charms to provide their children with early morning vitamins and minerals are A) also depending on it for caloric content or B) not real jazzed by the idea of paying twenty cents more an ounce for it.

If necessity is the mother of invention, negligence and sloth must be the baby-daddy who’s paying night-to-night at the Motel 6 by selling weed.

Now go back and find my Kate Bush and a Tori Amos references like Waldo.


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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No Responses

  1. Big-E says:

    Does it hurt to be stupid?

    You have no knowledge at all about orgo chemistry, and haven`t done any research on why they`d replace hydroxy group with chlorine groups.

    CHLORINE *GASP* is in mushrooms and many other vegtables.

  2. supremegoddessofall says:

    have you also noticed that it weighs like *nothing*???

    i went to the grocery store today after work and they had this big old display of splenda in bags the size of cereal boxes. i picked it up and i swear it only weighed like 6 ounces. sugar is supposed to be hefty, not light as air.

    scary. very very scary.

  3. Katie says:

    Thanks for this–a couple of my friends and I were wondering what it was and I hadn`t gotten around to researching it yet. Found a couple sites and sent them out with warnings. I`ve got a box of sugar cubes in the cabinet that are looking pretty good right about now.

  4. Alena says:

    I am afraid of artifical sweetners, and I`m afraid of all the chemicals they put in low-fat and fat-free stuff. I stopped eating all of that some time ago, mainly because I figured regular sugar and fat are better for me than some dubious chemicals. Secondly, anyone who feeds their child diet anything needs to be held down and have Diet Rite injected into their nostrils. My, I`m creative this morning. Unless you are raising a little chubbo, in which case, you should be looking to the cause of the problem, not letting them continue on with bad eating habits with a chemical substitution. I`m a server while I go to school, and it always makes me so sick to see parents ordering Diet Coke for their 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-year olds. If it`s so they get less sugar, how hard is it to put your foot down, cut down on the soda intake, and order them water? Water is better for them than anything else, so I don`t understand this mentality that parents are depriving their child by giving H20 instead.

  5. Alena says:

    P.S. Wait 10-20 years and watch the number of people with liver and/or kidney problems rise, all due to the fact that people want their junk food and think they`re not gonna pay for it. Smooches.

  6. can I point out says:

    Um, there`s lots of chlorine atoms in, you know, TABLE SALT too. You know, like “sodium chloride”? And there`s nothing wrong with it (remember, for those who have a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure, it`s the sodium that`s the problem). Just because chlorine has high-dive-low-end-no-running-adult-swim-corn-dogs-at-the-snack-bar properties doesn`t mean that any compound with chlorine atoms is swimming-pool-tastic. I mean, shit, hydrogen is like really flammable and dangerous and stuff — especially in the presence of oxygen — but H2O is our friend.

  7. j. says:

    yeah but still. it`s fake sugar. fake sugars are bad! even if they`re made from real sugars. gimme a twix.

  8. Tory says:

    Ahh but the chlorine in sucralose is not bonded in a nice warm ionic NaCl fashion. It is bonded in terrifying Frankenstein absorbed by the small intestine fashion. Eeeee.

  9. a Carol says:

    Don`t know about the FrankenChemistry, but I am all for less headaches. Aspartame gives me headaches. So I am leery of all artificial sweeteners. (& thanks a lot j., now I have Twix-on-the-brain!)

  10. sheesh says:

    Didn`t you go to some special science high school? Do you guys have any idea how much ordinary sugar is processed to get it into that form you call “natural”? And I bet lots of scary chemicals are involved (show me something in the world that isn`t chemical). Not that I am an apologist for the sucralose industry, but really: the naivete of the notion that NotNatural=Bad is just stunning. And the fact that some people have had allergic reactions to it is a different issue: Lots of people these days are having allergic reactions to completely un-Frankenstein-chemistry things like peanuts and wheat. The root cause of such allergies lies somewhere else (I don`t know where, and so far no one does) and not with the unGodly un-natural-ness of the product itself.

  11. Stephen says:

    Dang. Beaten to the punch. I second what `sheesh` and `can I point out` said.

  12. Tory says:

    I`m worried about it because of stuff like 1) the small number of tests it passed for FDA approval, 2) how it was rushed into use, and 3) how poorly labeled products are that contain it. If you think I care about “natural” vs. “unnatural” then you sure haven`t seen all the product that goes on me when I get out of the shower.

  13. can I point out says:

    So now in the comments are you saying that you didn`t talk about chlorine sending up red flags, and chlorine as opposed to God-fearing organic compounds? “You know, CHLORINE?” As I`m sure you`re aware (remind yourself by having a look at the periodic table), chlorine and flourine are chemically similar. So for a paragraph there, you sounded like one of those flouridated-water-is-a-UN-conspiracy types. By the time you`ve finished reading this, the jack-booted blue-helmeted thugs will be there in their black helicopter! Too late!

  14. Tory says:

    Um. You are taking this post wa-a-ay too seriously. By the way — it`s “fluorine,” and if somebody took three chains off a complex organic molecule and put on sweet soothing verses from the Song of Solomon it would probably still freak me out a little.

  15. can I point out says:

    that correcting others` spelling or grammar is the last refuge of the defeated writer. But right you are.

  16. staggerlee says:

    actually, the chloride ion is a hell of a lot different than Cl2, or chlorine itself. i`m a little afraid that the covalent bond with carbon will come apart in my kidneys…but if you`re not worried about what ANY form of Cl- or Cl2 will do to you, then please, be my guest–mix up some mr clean and clorox in your toilet. oh yeah… make sure you`re in a poorly ventilated location. one more thing–breathe deep.

  17. Alex says:

    Erm. Chlorine? As found in Sodium chloride? Commonly refered to as salt? Anyway its probably giving you cancer, too. Everything does these days. I wonder if natural sugar can give you cancer. Or breathing, for that matter.

  18. Alex says:

    I should read more. Anyways. I don`t know what would happen if it detached, but honestly, if you haven`t noted that your blood tastes `salty` then… Although yes, bleaching your lungs would be a good way to go about giving yourself something. Its more a matter of geography than chemistry – where it is.

  19. chlorine says:

    for heaven`s sake, people… oceans are full of “natural” salts **in solution**. That means the metals (potassium, sodium, etc) and the alkalines (fluorine, chlorine, etc) are dissociated from one another in the water. And you swim in it. And you eat food that lives in it. And so on. The comment about clorox is just another ignorant expression of what the above commenter said: You would never predict how great water is based on the chemical properties of hydrogen and oxygen alone.

  20. Alena says:

    Apparently the Point bus has left and several people missed it.

  21. Tory says:

    Heh heh heh. Controversy!

  22. Point? says:

    Sorry, I`m using the comments to, you know, actually comment on the article. Maybe you wanted us to spot the Tori Amos references or fawn over Tory`s writing with “wow, awesome use of the word `elan` “?

  23. staggerlee says:

    well, obviously salts in solution are safe. carbon bonded with chloride is *not* a natural, soluble (sp?) salt. if sodium chloride broke up in your system (or in water, or in air, for that matter), you`d be screwed. but it doesn`t, because *newsflash* ionic bonds are stronger than covalent. of course blood tastes salty. it has to be salty–that`s why saline IVs work,and lactate ringer IVs work better. but you can try giving yourself an IV full of distilled water. call us if it works. besides, just because we went to a “special science high school”, as sheesh correctly pointed out, doesn`t mean that there`s a correct answer to any of this. sucralose is still a form of sugar. just not a very healthy one.

  24. sodium says:

    So if sodium chloride (salt) doesn`t “break up” in your system (because ionic bonds are like SO STRONG) then how does sodium alone contribute to high blood pressure? Think on that. And by the way, salt does dissolve (“break up”) in water, and your blood has lots of water.

  25. sheesh says:

    I think what sodium is trying to say is: if sodium chloride didn`t dissociate in your system, then people on low-sodium diets would not have to reduce their intake of salt. But they do. And now that I know that staggerlee also went to the special science high school, I am very disappointed in the place. The lack of critical thinking here is really troubling.

  26. Tory says:

    Heh heh heh. I think the dispute here is what form the chlorine on a sucralose molecule takes, and the problem is nobody really knows because the molecule is made so weird and we don`t have any kind of experience with substances like it. Thus it could be totally harmless, but to me at least it seems sketchy.
    But flame on this: the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is overstated and poorly understood, like the relationship between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol levels in the blood.
    Wait `til I pass judgment on eating meat. Heh heh heh. Elan!

  27. single quotes says:

    How come every use of the single quote — the one under the regular, double-quotes on the keyboard, right next to the semi-colon/colon key — how come they all come out like “back-ticks”, the one on the same key as the tilde (or squiggly, or whatever you call it)? I will do a test: tilde ~ back-tick ` semicolon ; colon : double-quote ” single-quote `

  28. apostrophe -- why why why says:

    It`s so weird I`m avoiding all contractions `cause they come out lookin` all weird with those funny `back-ticks`.

  29. Tory says:

    Because I`m a lazy programmer. Lazy lazy lazy.

  30. Tory says:

    Heh. I fixed it. I rule. Tho I`m still lazy.

  31. Elsabet says:

    I had a renal reaction to Splenda (and I have since seen warnings that state “If you have any kidney- or bladder-based reactions to Splenda, stop taking it *immediately*.”), and I was only consuming a packet or two a day for two months. Fortunately, everything`s back on track, but I`m much more concerned about the proliferation of Splenda in everything now.

  32. SupremeBeingofLeisure says:

    You know I like the way you think…the slightbutosohealthy paranoia of having researched things like amalgam…which by the way…can you believe that our governement would actually allow something that has to be prepared under a chemical vent hood, with gloves and face mask then packaged and bundled and LABELED as biohazardous waste material to be applied to the insides of our mouths. Something then when bitten on releases mercury gas…and the wonder why our parents are so mental. If you were sucking down mercury gas everyday you`d be mental too. So onto Splenda…I never trusted it when it hit the market. I just can`t believe in anything that can be sweet and calorieless <-- Is that a word? If its goes in our bodies shouldn`t it at least be fuel adaptable. You can`t get something from nothing. At least its a sound theory in my mind. Give me sugar...fructose, glucose, sucrose, dextrose...those are the sugars I love.

  33. SupremeBeingofLeisure says:

    On the Sodium thing…Come on now my budding science minds…your cells operate with a little thing called a sodium potassium pump which passes the minerals (NaCl and K) (pumps them) through your phospholipid bilayered semi-permiable cell membranes so other important cellular functions may occur. The problem is most natural foods that are eaten already contain salt. Manufactured, preprocessed, sold and seasoned for our pleasure seeking tastebuds foods contain more salt in one serving than the body ever required in a day.

  34. observant1 says:

    Sucralose is garbage. It doesn`t even taste that sweet. Just use stevia (found at any health food store), honey, or raw turbinado sugar. And realize that, in all things biological, fun costs ya. Besides, if a person is not watching fat intake, there`s no point in even bothering to watch carb intake. It`s so funny to watch Atkins devotees fretting over a stupid hamburger bun but then eat the high-fat additive-loaded beef patty like it`s no big deal and then wonder why the hell their “diet” (if one wants to call it that) is fucking up both their waistlines and their kidneys.

  35. Cancer says:

    Everything gives you cancer these days. Air, Water, beer, it doesn`t matter, you might as well smoke, drink and eat artificial sugar, or real sugar, whatever rocks your world.

  36. staggerlee says:

    oh sheesh, i`m so happy for you. if it makes you feel better, i only got into the school on the dumb jock program (cuz i could run real fast). and that is why people like you are obviously cardiologists, and people like me get shot at in iraq.

  37. i love splenda says:

    hey if you have allergic reactions than dont eat it, but if you dont, enjoy it and stay skinny. and you can only get cancer from it if you consume many many times your body weight. check out when they tested it on rats and gave it a very high amount, like a bunch of times over his body weight. so stop believing all these fallacies. go and eat your twix, im sticking to diet stuff.

  38. i love splenda says:

    oh.. and its not like im not consuming calories just because i eat splenda. its called when you make a sugar free milkshake, theres calories in the milk

  39. says:

    if you check the ingredients of splenda it contains dextrose(a sugar), maltodextrin(a starch), and sucralose(invented by someone tasting a chemical they were working with) sucralose isn`t natural and doesn`t have to be made from sugar. also i heard it cause your thymus gland (affects immune system)to shrink and your liver and kidneys to swell

  40. sodium chloride says:

    sodium chloride breaks up into hydrochloric acid for your stomach and a compound of sodium(since sodium explodes/egnites on contact with water) sucralose is its own substance which is made from sugar just as carbon monoxide is made from oxygen

  41. observant1 says:

    Sucralose, the Carbon Monoxide of Sugars. Garbagegarbagegarbagegarbage.

  42. staggerlee says:

    people are still pissed about this? wow…

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