High-Fructose Corn Syrups

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The 1960s brought the invention of fructose syrups. These start out as plain corn or potato syrups, but an additional enzyme process converts some of the glucose sugars into fructose, which is much sweeter and therefore gives the syrups a higher sweetening power. The sugars in standard high-fructose corn syrup are around 53% glucose and 42% fructose, and provide the same sweetness as the syrup’s equivalent weight in table sugar. Because high-fructose syrups are relatively cheap, soft-drink manufacturers began to replace cane and beet sugars with them in the 1980s, and Americans began to consume more corn syrups than cane and beet sugar. Today they’re a very important sweetener in food manufacturing.