Bitter Sweet

Yesterday, I was at a cafe with my friend, Jesse. We each bought a coffee and a cookie for our nutritional kick-start of the day (around noon, at the time). I gave my visa card to the well-endowed clerk to pay for my purchase, and she gave me the debit user-input pad saying “You have to confirm.”

Huh? Um… Okay. “Purchase $3-something Okay?” I click Okay.

“Tip?” I think I actually made an audible grunt of surprise. Whatever. Fine. She’s nice to look at, I guess I’ll give her 15%. I’m so weak. “Purchase $4-something okay?” Okay.

I took my newly purchased beverage over to the counter to sweeten it up. Now, this may sound strange, but I actually prefer the taste of non-sugar sweeteners to actual sugar. Maybe this is because I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, and I don’t like adding so much sugar to my coffee. And I figure I could lose some weight, maybe not adding so much sugar would help. As I explain this to Jesse, he says something along the lines of “Weight or cancer, one of ’em will get ya.” I added one packet of sweetener, and one of sugar (regretfully, I missed the brown sugar).

Later in the day, I was in a computer lab at school working on project with my group. Jesse had given me a Tab energy drink earlier. He said he didn’t like the taste of non-sugar sweetener. I was kind of thirsty, so I pulled it out of my bag and was about to drink it. One of my group members said, “You know that stuff’s carcinogenic, right?”

“That’s what people say.”

“So… why do you drink it?”

“I dunno… tastes good?” I enjoyed my energy drink.

Since the start of this school term, I’ve been drinking a coffee sweetened with a sugar-substitute nearly every day. So this morning, I decided to look into the controversy over these sweet things I enjoy.

My current sweeteners at home are Sugar-Twin and some no name “calorie-free” sweetener. Both contain sodium cyclamate. Both say, “Use only at the advice of a physician” and both are available on the shelf of any grocery store, in Canada. In the US and the UK, cyclamate has been banned since 1969 and 1970, respectively, due to some tests on rats linking cyclamate to bladder cancer. According to Wikipedia, Sugar-Twin does not contain cyclamate in the US market, but instead uses saccharin, which has been banned in Canada since 1977, excpet for diabetic usage. Tab Energy apparently uses sucralose as its sweetener, which seems to be the least controversial. Many other low-calorie soft-drinks currently use aspartame as the sweetener, which has been linked to brain tumours. Of course, all of these “links” are not of the greatest strength.

For a seriously fascinating read, check out the Wikipedia article on sugar substitutes. For a much less fascinating read, search Canadian Food and Health regulations.

Now, as I finish my cyclamate-sweetened coffee, I embark on a painful journey of homework and assignments. I wonder if that’s the cause of this slight bitterness….

Whatever you use, use it in happy moderation. 🙂

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6 Comments on “Bitter Sweet”

  1. Alex Says:

    Bitter sweet… I was reading your interesting tale about the well-endowed clerk, and was hoping this to be a romatic blog. And then you started talking about sugar… and then you went on a discover-channel-type discussion on the types of sweeteners! I was like, “WTF, where’s the story on the clerk??” 😆 I almost feel suckered into reading the entire post.

    I drink homogenous milk, eat sugar with no hesitation (not that I eat much sugar though) and KFC. 🙂 I need the fat…

  2. popeko Says:

    she wasn’t THAT hot. Maybe I’m just too choosy.

    *sips a tea sweetened with HONEY

  3. Steve Says:

    Sorry Alex. Saying she’s “well endowed” is about as romantic as I get.

  4. Shyaarii Says:

    She wasn’t that hot and you tipped her 15%?

    I had the same reaction as Alex when I read this post, but I wasn’t thinking about the not-that-hot clerk.

    I was expecting a follow-up story on the extra service charge from the coffee shop or credit card company.

  5. kabu Says:

    The tip probably got spilt up between her and a bunch of others, anyway. I hate it when those little machines ask you for a tip. If you want to tip them you can just tell them when they enter the price. And at a coffee shop, to boot!? Please… next time I go over there we’re going to that coffee shop, and I’ll pay by visa or debit just so that I can press “no”. I think I’ll pause, pretending to think about it, too, and maybe give him or her a quick look before entering my decision- not that they’d really have anything to do with this business practice, but sometimes making a point is the best part in itself.

  6. Steve Says:

    sweet. you can buy us all a drink! $-bag$. 😀 I guess I can understand if we were drinking in and had some form of service… but yeah. Cuz they do have a pretty cool establishment with a Caribbean theme. And the reason they include that question is for suckers like me, who wouldn’t normally leave shit…. they probably get way more tips…. What really pisses me off is when it defaults to 15% and you have to put in effort to remove it. Oh… oh…. irk.

    Wow. I’m sorry my post was so misleading… maybe if I were writing an essay I would have made the clerk and debit pad footnotes or something. As it is, it’s just a blog post that took too much of my already dwindling day. Actually, I guess I’m not sorry. hah

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