Sweet Nothing—the Triumph Of Diet Soda

It came out of a Brooklyn hospital and in very few years changed not only what Americans drink but how they see themselves.

It is probably fair to say that Hyman Kirsch, 50 years dead, his once powerful beverage company now a shadow of its former fizzy self, could not have imagined the ways in which his No-Cal soda would change the world.

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What’s That Funny Taste?

The never-ending quest for fake sugar.

Just as diet soda’s multibillion-dollar industry stems from the unassuming Russian Jewish émigré Hyman Kirsch, so the history of artificial sweeteners is an immigrant story, one that begins in a Johns Hopkins University laboratory in 1879. Constantine Fahlberg, a “well-built, handsome, German-American,” according to an article Scientific American published years later, was working there examining the properties of coal tar. Quite by accident, he stumbled upon a chemical that would forever sweeten the course of history. Read more »