Wednesday, August 7, 2013


A new series!!!

The olykoek, a Dutch fried ball of dough, was the doughnut’s 16th-century predecessor. The hole came later.

Things go better with bubbles—or so it was thought by spa-goers, who often drank sparkling mineral water as part of the cure for what ailed them. The 18th-century discovery that carbon dioxide put the fizz in fizzy water led to systems for producing soda water, then to sweet drinks like root beer, ginger ale, and cola. Today’s 12-ounce soda typically contains around ten teaspoons of sugar.

As an example of just desserts, one might point out that a dentist was co-inventor of the cotton candy machine. The fairground staple, then known as fairy floss, is nothing more than colored sugar. Its precursor—spun sugar—was practically an art form in 15th-century Venice, whose confectioners shaped it into animals, birds, and buildings for the amusement of guests.

Goldilocks adjudged the third bowl of porridge she tested just right. Anyone craving more variety may note that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists 2,000 cereals. Packaged as a whole-grain health food in the late 1800s, cereal began to evolve in the 1920s into sugar-coated flakes, pops, and puffs.

From soup to soda, viscous waves of high-fructose corn syrup wash over the landscape of processed food. HFCS is cheaper and usually sweeter than sucrose, sugar made from cane or beets. Is there any biological difference? “Not enough to fuss about,” says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University. “Everyone would be better off eating less of either one.”

Candy is dandy, particularly to Americans, who spent $32 billion on sweets in 2011; per capita consumption was 25 pounds. Formerly a luxury item for the rich, candy became affordable with the decline of sugar prices and rise of mass production in the 19th century. The word itself comes from qandi: Arabic for a sugar confection.

The happy accident of yogurt probably came about by the fermentation of milk left out in the heat, most likely somewhere in Asia. Commercialized by Danone in 1919, it was sold in pharmacies to ensure longevity. The addition of fruit and sugar boosted sales. So did freezing yogurt, which began in the 1970s. Americans initially rejected its tartness—remedied by adding more sugar.

The downsized cake made its American cookbook debut in 1826, says food historian Andrew Smith. Cupcake gentrification spread in 2000 when Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw nibbled one topped with pink buttercream. In the current TV series Cupcake Wars, dueling recipes feature ingredients like sweet tea and chocolate seltzer.

All these photos were photographed by Robert Clark