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ILLUSTRATION BY GARY HANNA

Life wasnt always


as sweet as it is today.

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BY LAUREN TARSHIS

SCHOLASTIC SCOPE OCTOBER 2015

SCOPE.SCHOLASTIC.COM OCTOBER 2015

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AS YOU READ,
THINK ABOUT:
How have attitudes about sugar
changed since the 1800s?

Making lozenges was time-

Candy for Dinner

almost any American who wanted it.

consuming. Each one had to be

He named his new candieshard,

shaped by hand like a tiny cookie.

quarter-sized sugar wafers sold in

So Chase invented a hand-cranked

stacksChase Lozenges. They were

machine that would let him quickly

an immediate hit.

magine youre a kid living in America in 1920,

importance of vitamins was

and your parents are too busy to cook dinner.

not well understood. Many

Instead, they serve you something they are

scientists believed that

sure is just as healthy as chicken and vegetables:

candy was just as healthful

a chocolate bar. Sounds a little crazy now, but as

as steak and potatoes or

Chases lozenge-making

recently as the 1940s, many Americans believed that

fish and broccoli. Candy

amazing lozenge machine. But it

machine was soon being sold

candy was as nutritious as an entire meal. Today, we

companies wanted people

would change America

was his next idea that would make

across the country. For the first

understand that some foods are better for us than

to believe this too. Ads for

and the world.

him famous: Why not use his new

time, American candymakers

others. You probably know that the oatmeal and

Milky Way suggested that

invention to create lozenges that

could produce sweet treats in large

fruit you wisely ate for breakfast were packed with

each bar contained a glass of milk (not true). There

were just candy?

quantities and sell them cheaply in

vitamins and other nutrients. You probably know as

was even a popular candy bar called Chicken Dinner

stores.

well that those chewy candies stashed in your drawer

(which, thankfully, did not contain chicken).

t was 1847, and for

create large batches of lozenges

months, Oliver Chase

that were all the same size and

had been tinkering with a

thickness. He was thrilled with his

brand-new invention that

Chase was a pharmacist; he sold

medicines out of his small shop


in Boston. Like most pharmacists

Back in the early 1800s, candy

Sweet Treats for All

are little more than sugar. Even little kids understand

Today, we know the dangers of eating too much

of the time, Chase made his own

was popular in Europe but

remedies. His most popular were

extremely expensive in America.

be rich to afford a rope of tangy

lozenges, small discs made of

Only a few kinds were available

red licorice or a mouthwatering

mashed-up herbs, chemicals, and

clumps of tooth-busting rock

buttercream. Stores sold dozens

the study of how foods affect the bodywas new.

We still love candy, of course. But most of us

other ingredients. People bought

candy, sticks of homemade

of varieties of penny candies

People knew that food provided energy, but the

understand its best left for dessert.

lozenges hoping to relieve their

peppermint, and sticky lemon

displayed in glass jars.

sore throats, aching heads, and

dropsand even those were hard

runny nosesthough in truth, the

to find. Kids who craved sweets

powered candy machines replaced

lozenges didnt work very well. On

had to settle for dried fruits or

Chases hand-cranked roller.

top of that, they tasted disgusting,

puddings sweetened with a cheap

Companies competed fiercely

like dirt mixed with grass. To make

syrup called molasses.

to introduce new flavors and

from creating advertisements that lie about products.

As the decades passed, steam-

textureschewy jelly beans, waxy

help put candy into the mouth of

candy corn (known back then as

MILLION

chicken feed), gooey caramels,

the amount of candy corn made each year


(Thats about 9 billion piecesenough to circle
the moon 20 times.)*

sugar. We also have laws that prohibit companies

Back in the early 1900s, the science of nutrition

fluffy marshmallows. Candymakers


even sent spies to Europe to steal
secret candy recipes and smuggle
them back to America.
The biggest candy breakthrough
came in 1899, when a Pennsylvania
candymaker named Milton Hershey
figured out how to turn chalky
and bitter cocoa into
creamy milk chocolate
bars. His Hersheys
Kisses and Bars
became bestsellers.

BUYENLARGE/GETTY IMAGES (CANDY BOX); ARTWORK COURTESY OF THE NEW ENGLAND CONFECTIONERY COMPANY
2015 (OLIVER CHASE); BOSTON GLOBE/GETTY IMAGES (NECCO WAFERS); ROBERT CLARK/INSTITUTE (CUPCAKE)

But Oliver Chase was about to

35POUNDS

covered with a hard candy shell.

that eating too much sugar is unhealthy.

LAURA EISENBERG/GETTY IMAGES

them more palatable, most were

Suddenly you didnt have to

Candy Classics

$33.6 billion worth a year.

By the 1920s, Americans could

Candymakers have continued

Americas first machine-made


candies survive, though their

choose from thousands of different

to dream up new kinds of candies

name was changed to Necco

kinds of candies of every size,

to surprise and delight us. In the

Wafers. They are still made in

texture, and flavor. Many classic

early 1980s, the first gummy bears

Boston, at a factory not far from

chocolate bars and

invaded America from

the pharmacy where they were

candies introduced

Germany. Around

invented. In 2009, the makers of

nearly a century ago

the same time, candy

Necco Wafers decided to make

are still beloved today,

scientists combined

them healthier. They removed the

including Milky Way,

sugar with malic acid

chemical flavorings and colors.

Milk Duds, Tootsie

to create super-sour,

Roll, and the worlds

mouth-puckering

were furious. Sales dropped 35

current No. 1-selling

candies like Warheads.

percent, and the company decided

candy bar, Snickers.

Today, chocolates

to return to the original formula.

are mixed with exotic

So today, if you bite into a crunchy

flavors, like cayenne

Necco Wafer, you are tasting candy

pepper and aai [ah-

history.

Far fewer kinds of


candy are sold today
than were sold during
candys golden age in
the 1920s and 1930s.

Oliver Chase and his


candymaking machine.
His creations eventually
became known
as Necco
Wafers.

But Americans still devour

sah-EE] berry.

Big mistake! Loyal customers

And Chase

!
ad
o re r story
t
n
Tur suga
g
ckin

Lozenges?

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SCHOLASTIC SCOPE OCTOBER 2015

*SOURCE: NATIONAL
CONFECTIONERS ASSOCIATION

a sh

SCOPE.SCHOLASTIC.COM OCTOBER 2015

25

INFORMATIONAL TEXT

This
Cupcake Is
Trying to
Hurt You

theory is that a fondness for sweetness helped early

cupcakesand cans of soda and bottles of sports

humans: Sweet-tasting foods like berries, plums, and

drinks and cartons of sugary yogurt and many other

grapes provided them with the energy they needed to

sugary foodsleads to problems far worse than a

survive.

and damaging impact on the body. And todays kids

most humans were able to satisfy their craving for

and teens are consuming very large quantities of the

sweetness with pure sugar. Before then, sugar was

sweet stuffa staggering 19 teaspoons of added sugar

a luxury that only the very rich could afford to bake

a day, on average. Thats about three times too much,

into their cakes or spoon into their tea.

eats about 130 pounds of sugar a year, according

Terrifying Diseases
When you chug down a huge bottle of soda

He gobbles you up and brushes the crumbs from his

AHHHH!

or demolish a bag of candy, you send a giant

A Nation of Soda Guzzlers

dose of fructose straight to your liver. (Fructose is

The roots of todays sugar crisis go back

a form of sugar found in almost any sweetener,

to around 1980, when some experts decided

including white sugar, honey, and high-fructose

that the major threat to our health was not

corn syrup.) Some of that fructose gets

sugar but fat. Food companies responded by

converted to fat, which can accumulate

introducing fat-free and low-fat versions of a

in your liver. Over the long term, sugar

plethora of foods, from cookies and cakes

can cause scarring and cirrhosis, a liver

to cheeses and yogurts. But removing fat

disease that never goes away, says Robert

from food robs it of flavor and texture (think:

Lustig, a pediatrician at the University of

T-shirt.

California, San Francisco.


New studies have linked high-sugar diets to a host
of other health issuescancer, heart disease, Type

sugar improves the tasteand thats why a low-fat


food typically has more sugar than the regular version.
But perhaps more troubling than our embrace

2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke.

of low-fat, high-sugar foods is the amount of soda

with a crazed grin on his face. Stop, Sam! Youll break

Sugar may also contribute to depression, tiredness,

Americans guzzle. We drink twice as much as we

something! Calm down!

and learning and memory issues (not so great on the

did in 1970. Dozens more kinds of sodasas well as

day of a big test). Decades ago, these were diseases

sugary juices and sports drinksare available today


than when your parents were your age.

And Sam does calm down. He calms way, way,


collapsed on the couch in the midst of a sugar crash.

increasing number of adolescents and even children.

What you just witnessed in your brief time as

can, but right now, you seem very . . . sweet. So Sam

a cupcake is how sugar affects the human body: a

sinks his teeth into you, flavor exploding on his tongue.

complex biological process involving at least six organs

Most of these drinks contain more sugar than you


should get in an entire day. For example, a 20-ounce

SHUTTERSTOCK

Poor Sam. Look what you did to him!

ROBERT CLARK/INSTITUTE

Even worse, when Sam gets a little older, you are

SCHOLASTIC SCOPE OCTOBER 2015

cookies that taste like wet cardboard). Adding

sugar rush. Suddenly Sam is running around his house

that affected mostly adults. Now, they are striking an

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giant bathtub!

Too much sugar!

waaaaay down. Now he looks like a deflated balloon,

Sam should be running away from you as fast as he

In 1801, the average American was eating roughly


8 pounds of sugar a year. Today, the average American

Too bad you are going to wreck Sams day.


going to play a role in making him very sick.

It wasnt until the late 1800s, however, that

to some estimates. Thats enough to fill a

At first, Sam feels amazing. Then it comes: the

is very nice. He deserves a treat.

while isnt going to hurt anyone. But having too many

So why is sugar so bad?

Yum!

Lets call him Sam. (Dont be scared. It wont hurt.) Sam

of us tasteour mothers milkis sweet. Another

than 6 teaspoons per day.)

crunchy crust of crumbled Oreos.

Now imagine that you are about to be eaten by a kid.

people like sweet things because the first thing most

experts say. (Ideally, a teen should consume no more

of sweet frosting and, for good measure, a


You are delicious.

out to manage large doses of sugar.

sugar crash. Large quantities of sugar have a powerful

By Kristin Lewis
and Lauren Tarshis

cupcake, as big as a softball with a gooey crown

why humans have a sweet tooth. One theory is that

Now, eating a big fat cupcake every once in a

You may never


look at sweets
the same way
again.

magine that you are a cupcakean enormous

plus an army of chemicals that the body has to pump

Why You Have a Sweet Tooth

soda contains a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar. And

If sugar is so dangerous, why do we crave it?

sugary drinks are said to contribute to 25,000 deaths a

Scientists have a multitude of theories to explain

year in the United States.

SCOPE.SCHOLASTIC.COM OCTOBER 2015

27

WHERE DOES THE SUGAR HIDE?


Inside the foods we eat

TEASPOONS

1.5 TEASPOONS

TEASPOONS

Blueberry
Muffin

Granola
Bar

Sports
Drink

10

TEASPOONS

TEASPOONS

1.5 TEASPOONS

Orange
Juice

PB&J
Sandwich

Hamburger

13

TEASPOONS

TEASPOONS

Flavored
Yogurt

TEASPOON

Salad with
Fat-Free
Dressing

Soda

TOTAL: 50 teaspoons of sugar!


AMOUNTS ARE BASED ON THE SUGAR CONTENT OF POPULAR BRANDS. SOME VARIETIES MAY
HAVE MORE OR LESS SUGAR. ALWAYS CHECK INGREDIENT LABELS.

So Now What?
The good news is that the solution to the sugar crisis

in ose? Those are all forms of sugar.


To cut down on how much sugar you eat, experts say,

is simple: We all need to eat less sugar. But cutting out

start with small changes. Choose water over soda, an

sugar isnt exactly easy. Studies suggest that sugar can

orange over an orange-flavored drink. Look at nutrition

be addictive. Whats more, sugar is often hidden in

labels to see how many grams of sugar foods contain

foods. (See above.) Take a look at that cup of apple

per serving. (Four grams equals one teaspoon.) Make

sauce in your backpack. You may not see sugar on

enough of these smart decisions, and over time, you

the list of ingredients. But what about high-fructose

may find yourself sleeping better, concentrating more in

corn syrup? Sucrose? Glucose? Anything else that ends

school, and feeling more energetic. Sweet!

How have our ideas about sweets changed since the days of Chases lozenges? Answer this
question in a short essay. Support your ideas with information from When Candy
Conquered America and This Cupcake Is Trying to Hurt You. You may also draw on
GET THIS
photos, captions, and sidebars. Send your essay to SUGAR CONTEST. Five winners will
ACTIVITY
each get Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes. See page 2 for details.
ONLINE

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