Empty Pleasures

  • by Carolyn de la Pena
  • Narrated by Navida Stein
  • 22 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 America, Carolyn de la Pena 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.


What the Critics Say

"Empty Pleasures is full of insights about artificial sweeteners and what they have to tell us about 'our vexed relationship with food in the 20th century." (Gastronomica)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dry, academic, yet interesting

The writing felt much like a college textbook. The narration absolutely felt like a lecture. I had a great interest in the subject matter however, so by listening to it at 1.25X, I was able to get through it. The cultural history presented here is interesting. You may want to zoom through some of the lengthier passages in which the author quotes voluminous amounts of source material without providing any real insight.
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- L. Busch

A Must!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! This book is well written, well narrated, and, is very educational. I learned a lot about food, and it has made me more conscience about my food and drink choices.

What did you like best about this story?

The information in the book was amazing. Rather than saying 'This is BAD!' the author uses research and anecdotes to illuminate how sugar and sugar substitutes have bee uses and developed.

What does Navida Stein bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

I recommend this not only to history fans and foodies, but also people who are interested in marketing,

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- Elizabeth Ciminelli

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-10-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios