The United States

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

The United States has a culinary culture permeated by sweetened foods and beverages. Many Americans begin their day with a bowl of sugary cereal, doughnut, muffin, pancakes, or other sweet food, typically accompanied by sweet orange juice, sweetened coffee, or a soft drink. For lunch, dinner, or snacks, sugary ingredients are ubiquitous as well, not only in obviously sweet foods but also in savory ones. Most processed foods—from tomato sauce to ketchup, bread to bagels, hot dogs to bacon—contain varying quantities of sugary ingredients, often derived from corn. Other than water, almost all bottled beverages, whether flat or carbonated, contain a hefty dose of corn syrup, sugar, fruit concentrate, or synthetic sweetener. See corn syrup. Given the American predilection for the sweet, it is hardly surprising that even desserts in the United States are often noticeably sweeter than their European counterparts. Ever since the late nineteenth century, Americans have reliably been among the top five per-capita consumers of sweeteners in the world.