Regular Sodas

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

A 12-ounce regular soda typically contains 40 grams of sugars—the equivalent of ten teaspoons. Sodas are, in effect, systems for rapid delivery of large amounts of sugars into the blood stream. The sugars are glucose and fructose, derived from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or, occasionally, cane and beet sugar (sucrose). See corn syrup; fructose; and glucose. Until 1984, American sodas were largely sweetened with cane or beet sugar. But these are more expensive than HFCS because of quotas, tariffs, and corn subsidies. When taste tests proved that consumers could not tell the difference between sodas made with sucrose or HFCS, companies switched to the cheaper alternative. In some cane-growing countries, such as Mexico, sodas are still sweetened with sucrose but increasingly diluted with the less-expensive HFCS. Because some European countries grow sugar beets, and former colony trading partners grow sugarcane, the European Union continues to favor sucrose.