On November 6, 1984, a bomb went off in the food industry that forever changed the course of consumption: Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced plans to stop using sugar in their soft drinks, instead replacing it with high fructose corn syrup. With the launch of two press releases, U.S. sugar consumption decreased by more than 500,000 tons a year, according to historian James Bovard, driving sugar prices so high that it wrecked the market for sugar and replaced it with a thriving marketplace for high fructose corn syrup.
This creates a fascinating puzzle. The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.