Photos of food and their sugar-cube equivalent

200905032325 has photos of different kinds of food (both processed and natural) showing how much sugar is in the the food by displaying a stack of 4 gram sugar cubes next to the item. (Via Presurfer)


  1. Most of those products don’t exist in New Zealand, and I think US food has more sugar than our food does. I would like to see grams of fat also, although it doesn’t come in nice-looking cubes. Maybe it could be represented in a big lardy pile. That would make me think twice before eating something.

  2. Huh? That sugar is a like an advertisement for that coffee drink. Makes me want to walk over to Starbucks and get one right now!

  3. This is very interesting. I stop at starbucks everyday and never even considered the amount of sugar that’s in coffee. OMG 12 cubes yuk! Im silly but not that silly.

    -Hedge Hog

  4. Seeing all those sugar cubes is making me flash back a bit. I’m getting tracers and need to put the internet down for a little while.

  5. When the sugar reaches those kinds of levels, it makes one wonder if halving the sugar would really make it taste that much different. Would that McDonalds shake really not be sweet enough with “only” 14 sugar cubes’ worth instead of 28?

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  7. #5 – Sugarcontent doesn’t necessariously make something taste sweeter. There’s more salt in a slice of bread than on a salted peanut, but you wouldn’t say so from the taste alone…

  8. But I really like sugar cubes! I thought they were the coolest thing when I was a kid, and I still think so now. You can build stuff out of them, then eat them!

    If the idea was to make me not want those products, this has had the opposite effect!

  9. It’s worth noting that these figures are totals of both ‘natural’ sugars and added refined sugars.

    If you check out the fruits page for instance, you’ll see plenty of sugar in an apple, and unless fruit in the USA gets injected with fructose syrup on the conveyor-belt*, that’s all honest one-a-day keeping-the-doctor-away goodness.

    (* This would not surprise me that much)

    PS: Does food packaging in the USA really look that that, or has the author of the website used some photographic technique to make everything look like it’s from the 70’s?

  10. @mattofdoom – For the sake of brand awareness, packaging of long-standing products are rarely updated in the US. Every once and awhile a CEO tries to redesign a package and the customers revolt and they change it back.

    But it is important to note that the products a store carries depends on the income-level that the store is positioned to attract. If you walk into a lower-class to lower-middle-class supermarket you will indeed feel like you’re in the 1970s because they carry the products that have been around for decades. Every kind of nutrition-less, processed, starch-filled, high-fructose-corn-syrup product is available there in packaging that should evoke memories of tv commercials you saw in your childhood.

    But if you walk into the upper-class or upper-middle-class supermarkets (like Whole Foods), you’d find modern packaging simply because most of the products would be relatively recent inventions. The invention being actual food content, oddly enough.

    Many people shop at both kinds of stores, since they carry different products with only some overlap.

  11. I’m kind of horrified by the things they label breakfast food. Frosting automatically disqualifies something from being part of my breakfast, at any rate.

    And they expressed surprise that the spagetti sauce had sugar in it, it’s actually pretty common to add a little dash of sugar to a tomato based sauce – really adds to the flavour, somehow.

  12. @ #11 deckard68

    Interesting information! When I was in the US recently one of my goals was to eat a twinkie. There were no twinkies in the organic food supermarket in Berkeley where my Aunt took me to buy groceries. I hadn’t thought that different kinds of stores sold different branded products. In New Zealand all supermarkets sell pretty much all the brands. I’m headed back to the US in June – maybe I’ll find a twinkie then :)

  13. @Kari — of course there is sugar in tomato sauce! First of all, there are tomatoes in tomato sauce and they are fruit full of natural sugars. Second, pure tomato sauce is often quite tart and the processed or even raw sugar cuts the tart. Some people cut the tart with juice, but most of us (including me) just reach for the sugar bowl.

  14. @ #3 “This is very interesting. I stop at starbucks everyday and never even considered the amount of sugar that’s in coffee. OMG 12 cubes yuk! Im silly but not that silly.”

    C’mon!, that hideously mammonth sized milkshake/coffee starbucks creation doesn’t even qualify as “coffee”… it’s a sickening beverage that only Americans could consume on a daily basis. Why not give starbucks a miss (forever) and go to a cafe n’ get a REAL espresso coffee? I recommend a short macchiato… anf guess what? ZERO SUGAR! (unless you add a teaspoon yourself, hey and one is better than 12!)

  15. @Huntsu – Hah, I didn’t even think of the naturally occuring sugar, just the added sugar.

    I use sugar in tomato sauces myself, and I love how cooking is sometimes almost akin to magic – add a special ingredient, and poof! Your dish transforms!

  16. It’s an interesting page from an art perspective, but would appreciate at least a link on the benefit of fruit.

    From the fruit wiki:
    Regular consumption of fruit is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging.

    Also, the risks/damage of the various kinds of sugars is still an ongoing discussion in the research community, so some sugars may be better than others.

    Like many Americans, I view that not as coffee, but as a large dessert with caffeine.

  17. So they gave me the content of the cereal, but not the milk you would put on them. They gave me the content of chocolate milk, and of soy milk, but not regular milk to compare.

    And yes, it would be natural rather than added sugar, and it might be lactose rather than fructose and sucrose, but it’s a blatant gap.

  18. Apoxia @13,
    Yeah, you’re not going to get a Twinkie at an organic supermarket. But given that it’s Twinkies we’re talking about, you could just have an American mail you a box. It’s not like they’ll go bad in transit.

  19. Apoxia @13,
    Yeah, you’re not going to get a Twinkie at an organic supermarket. But given that it’s Twinkies we’re talking about, you could just have an American mail you a box. It’s not like they’ll go bad in transit.

  20. @9

    I know what you mean man. I once built a huge sugar cube Arc de Triomphe. Who knew you could use icing as a glue? Then, I slowly, but surely, ate it. I’m still having a sugar rush.

  21. It looks like the site is down.

    Apoxia, I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but prepare to be disappointed with Twinkies. They’re not as good as they used to be when I was a kid.
    Although, that may stem from the fact that they were unavailable to me as a kid (My parents wouldn’t buy them for me. I appreciate that now.), unless of course I traded somebody for one during lunch.

  22. Do they include the sugar cube equivalent of high fructose corn syrup? A whole lot of those products probably have sugar and HFCS.

  23. Boing’d. For a coralized link:

    As for you who put extra sugar in your tomato sauces… all I can say is Bah. I once met a French person who did this, and all it confirmed for me is that French people should probably stick to buying Italian jarred sauce when they make pasta. The trick to making tomato sauces taste sweet is a) to use ingredients that become sweeter as they cook and caramelize, such as onions and meat, b) to cook it for a nice long while, and c) to use quality tomatoes. I’ve lived in Italy my whole life and never met anyone who would even consider adding sugar to their sauces…

    …ok, that little bit of food snobbery out of the way… cool site!

  24. For those who are disqualifying the Starbucks entry as coffee, it isn’t supposed to be. It is a gateway drink. Many adults try coffee find it too bitter or that it involves acquired taste that they don’t want to bother acquiring. Starbucks is solving this by making drinks that kids will love while introducing them to the flavor of coffee. When Mom or Dad go to buy themselves a coffee, they should buy their kid something too. Why not a coffee with training wheels?

  25. My wife very rarely orders a sweet drink from Starbucks as a treat. She asks them to put 1/4 the amount of syrup in it; they double-confirm that, the barista confirms it, and it’s still pretty sweet. The full test sweet stuff is sickening.

    UkuleleElvis, only Americans? Hardly. We definitely do not have a lock on the overly sweet stuff, perhaps just on the quantity consumed because we can afford it. Europe is teeming with overly sweet things. Ie, Nutella. Hazelnut spread? No, it’s an oil and sugar spread with a hint of hazelnuts as an afterthought.

    Samsam, yeah! No added sugar in tomato sauce!

  26. @Apoxia, the Safeways and Andronicos spattered around Berkeley both carry Twinkies, I think, but Safeway is the best bet, since I have purchased them there before.

    Honestly, I’m surprised that pictured coffee has as few sugar cubes in it as it does.

  27. having looked at all the pages, i was left with one conclusion, which of course has been known for years. sugar is a staple of food, and there is no avoiding it, just ways to moderate it by awareness.
    i quit eating poptarts, and drinking mountain dew years ago, and i don’t miss it at all. i do like a cherry cola Sprecher’s from time to time. and if i drink any full tilt soda, i go down to the mexican market, because mexican bottlers still use real sugar in the soda, making it taste like what you remember when you were a kid.

  28. @ #11 Deckard68:

    Thanks for your thoughtful post!

    I’d only add, it seems like different types of food packaging have gotten crystallized at different eras. A lot of the convenience food / junk food items have packaging from the 70s because that’s when that market expanded and the products were developed.

    However, if you walk down the baking aisle of your supermarket, you will feel like it’s the 1950s, 40s, or even earlier. Packaging for major brands of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, etc hasn’t changed in a looong time.

  29. I don’t understand why it says “That’s more sugar than a whole pint of ice cream!” next to the 21 oz McD’s shake. Last time I checked 21 ounces is more than a pint…

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