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High Fructose Corn Syrup: That Sweet, Sweet Bully

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High Fructose Corn Syrup: That Sweet, Sweet Bully

Quick! What is wrong with nuclear power??! How about DDT??! Or vinyl off-gassing??! Well, your inability to respond quickly, succinctly and in a rapid-fire sound bite has just destroyed your credibility and rendered you ignorant and labeled you as a lefty-liberal whiner. Sorry, you lose!

This is the intended message of a crop of pro-HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) advertisements paid for by the Corn Refiners Association and created to shame the public into quiet subservience and passive consumption of the countless high-fructose corn syrup-laden products that dominate the supermarket. The two commercials are basically the same in theme and concept and consist of aggressively obnoxious people being admonished in their uninformed condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup, by individuals that seem a lot more appealing and conversant.

The first commercial is the more insidious of the bunch, consisting of two mothers at, what looks like, a child’s birthday party. Mom One spots Mom Two pouring out glasses of punch from what looks like a jug of anti-freeze and arrogantly chides “Wow, you don’t care what the kids eat, huh?” To which Mom Two politely asks her to substantiate her condemnation of high-fructose corn syrup, and of course, Mom One can’t deliver or recall exactly why high-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you, thus rendering her a red-faced dope. Mom Two negates Mom One’s befuddlement with the statement that high-fructose corn syrup is “made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients and is fine in moderation.” (Note: antagonist Mom One is white, and protagonist Mom Two is black–is there a racial subtext here?

The second commercial is less relevant to parents, but is no less insidious, in that it equates love with feeding your partner high-fructose corn syrup, as in, “I feed you high-fructose corn syrup because I love you.” The basic structure is the same, this time with a couple on a picnic as the woman assumes the role of high-fructose corn syrup booster in opposition to her callow boyfriend. The end result being that he looks like an idiot, and she looks sweet and sensible. All of which is summed up by a congenial voice over reminding you to, “Get the facts, you are in for a sweet surprise.”

The cynical conceit of these ads are that if you can’t recall at a moment’s notice, all, or any, of the reasons something is negative or undesirable, then your concerns are wholly irrelevant, and you should just shut your mouth, and only open it to receive a generous serving of high-fructose corn syrup. The logic behind these ads assert that because high-fructose corn syrup is “natural,” as it is derived from corn, then it is wholesome and safe, much like natural radon gas, lead and tobacco.

Next page: The Truth About High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Five Things You Need to Know

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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5:00AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

8:45AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

2:41AM PDT on Sep 24, 2012


4:07PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

This is so widely used, and so many people don't even realize HFCS is in what they are eating or drinking. Maybe a petition on this would do some good.

4:59PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Petition to global corporate food manufacturer, Rich's Foods to remove HFCS/GMOs from their foods!

4:59PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Petition to global corporate food manufacturer, Rich's Foods to remove HFCS/GMOs from their foods!

6:25PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012


8:21PM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Propaganda to eat toxins? What insanity is this?!

9:36AM PST on Nov 26, 2010

GO VEGAN !!!!!

10:54AM PDT on Aug 11, 2010

I have been aware of the EVILS of HFCS for takes forever to shop for food but I feel that its worth it to eat a healthier diet. I have also noticed some breads and cereals are making it a point to say on their HFCS or TRANS FATS...this is helpful! MJBerling

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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