Sweet and Low

Rich Cohen, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-27229-6

Disinherited from the family fortune built by his maternal grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, who invented the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low, Cohen mines a wealth of family history in this funny, angry, digressive memoir. Ben worked as a short-order cook during the Depression and conceived of but failed to patent the sugar packet before he and his son Marvin hit pay dirt in the 1950s with the saccharin formula for Sweet'N Low. Today a distant third to Equal and Splenda, Sweet'N Low is run by Marvin's son Jeff, who took over after Marvin and several other chief officers were charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in 1993. This story of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based company is, at its heart, a tale of immigrant strife and Cohen's fractious Jewish clan, including his grandmother Betty, for whom "love is finite," and his hypochondriac, housebound Aunt Gladys ("a tongue probing a sore"), who connived to eliminate her sister (Cohen's mother) from Betty's will. Though Cohen often dollies back in a self-conscious if breezy effort to pad his memoir with big ideas—the history of artificial sweeteners, the post-WWII weight-watching craze, etc.—the real grace of his writing (seen in Tough Jews ) lies in the merciless, comic characterizations of his relatives. Photos. (Apr. 11)

Reviewed on: 02/13/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Show other formats
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-224-07272-4
Hardcover - 978-0-09-946685-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-59397-889-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3936-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3937-1
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-312-42601-9
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4668-0684-9
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