The ‘Sugar of Intelligence’

vintage_sugar_ad

I was just given this lovely cookbook: French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Loomis in exchange for a cranio session. In a rather synchronistic manner when I opened it I immediately came to this page with a little blurb about what is called in France “le sucre d’intelligence” which is the result of a dis-information advertising campaign in the 1960s. Something very similar has happened with the dis-information campaigns around raw milk for the past 80 years or so here in North America.

Quoted from page 481:

The Sugar of Intelligence

I am astounded at the amount of sugar children ingest in France. Snacks are always sweet, candies are offered at every turn, even water is sweetened with fruit – or her-flavored sirops.

When I have refused to allow my son sugary treats (he is allergic to sugar), the reaction has been negative, at times hostile. One person was so disquieted by our regiment that she took me aside and said, “Mme. Loomis, have you never heard of le sucre d’intelligence? Your son needs it for his brain; he needs it to grow properly.”

Her disquiet was so profound that I didn’t counter. When I mentioned this episode to some friends, they told me that many years ago there had been a publicity campaign that had something to do with le sucre d’intelligence. I called the sugar manufacturers’ union to hunt it down.

Indeed, in the 1960s a publicity campaign had extolled the healthful virtues of sugar. The advertisements they sent me featured an illustration of a person on the run and the following copy:

Sugar, it’s the shortest route to energy. Muscles, brain, and nerves need a rest from teh stress put upon them, and not only does sugar wipe out fatigue but it feeds the nerve cells.

Two for the flavor, one for health…instead of automatically using two sugar cubes, I consciously use three.”

One ad depicted a pilot at the controls with a teacup in his hand:

A pilot…is aware of the energy he gets from that hot, sweet drink. Obviously, drinking a cup of tea with two sugar cubes isn’t enought to safely land a Boeing. But, when you’re driving planes all day it certainly is useful.

The ads explained everything. Now I understand why attempts to limit sugar intake are regarded with increduclity. And I stand in awe of the power of a publicity campaign that has never quit working, at least in the countryside.

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