ASK Magazine Looks at the Science of Sugar

November 3, 2016

By Tyler Thompson, Licensing Manager, Cricket Media


Sugar. Maybe you’ve heard of it. When Cricket Media receive licensing requests from State Education departments, they specify they can only license articles that do not mention sugar, sweets, candy, ice cream, or cookies. Several states have passed legislature banning the sale of soda and sugary drinks in public schools, and lawmakers New York and in California are trying to emblazon sodas with a message that looks very similar to one you see on cigarette packages and alcohol bottles.


In this month’s issue of ASK, “Why Do We Love Sweets?”, Editor Liz Huyck takes a completely different approach. Since you can’t really keep children away from sugar, why not tell them everything there is to know about it? Rather than demonize sugar, why not educate children on how it works and we need it? The issue covers everything from the history of sugarcane (people have had a sweet tooth for at least 10,000 years), Napoleon Bonaparte’s sugar dilemma, the low-down on artificial sweeteners (yikes), a child with diabetes separates diabetic fact from fiction, sugar addicts in the animal kingdom (hummingbirds, yo), when it’s okay to eat glass, and a virtual tour through a candy cane factory complete with delicious photos.


ASK even breaks down the molecular structure of sugar and shows how your body converts it into energy in a fascinating section called “Sneaky Sugar.”


Check this out:

“By 2018, food makers will have to tell you have much sugar they add to your snack. Even if you read the list of ingredients, it can be hard to spot! Some can by sneaky. See if you can find any of these in your kitchen or lunch box—they’re all different names for sugar:


  • Agave
  • Barley malt
  • Cane juice
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit nectar
  • Glucose
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape juice concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Nectar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle”



Enjoy the attached article “I [heart] Sugar” as our free gift to you. We hope it will give you a taste of how sweet an issue of ASK can be.


For more in-depth looks at topics your kids are ASKing about, be sure to subscribe to ASK.



    Hi, I want to first say thank you for the age-appropriate but honest way you addressed slavery’s role in sugar production in the Caribbean. That said, I have two issues with it regarding historical accuracy. First, the solution movement was only one factor in the end of slavery. The other very significant factor was the continuing slave rebellions, as well as the Maroon wars (freed African slaves who fought the Brits and assisted the slaves who ran away). Leaving these facts out ignores the role African slaves played in their own emancipation. Second, I take offense at the way the article ends: “…even without slavery, the work is still hard.” Seriously? That is a very Anglo-centric way of thinking. The work was always hard, the white plantation owners just didn’t do it themselves. It was *always* done by hand. Just not by the slave owners. The account is still less white washed than most I see for this age group, but as a white mother of two part Jamaican sons, I could not let this pass.

    • Dear Ms. Vanderhoff,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, and for taking the time to reach out to us. This was one of the hardest articles I think we’ve ever worked on—the history of sugar is so dark, violent, and vast, it is impossible to convey even a fraction of it in a short piece, especially one aimed at children. All we can hope to do is to give a small glimpse—which if we’re lucky will inspire kids to go to the library and read more about it. I’m conscious of so many stories we left out—the Islamic sugar trade, the Indian exiles of Mauritius, the Jews deported to the Canary Islands, the Asian sugar workers of Hawaii, the Pacific Islanders—one could tell the entire history of the world through the sugar trade—and some books do.

      I am abashed that you feel we didn’t convey enough of the importance of the slave’s active resistance; getting that across was very important to us. In a piece this short, we have to choose just a few details that we hope will give a flavor of a much richer historical tapestry of resistance—here, Haiti speaks for many other revolts.

      Our choice of the British sugar boycott for a sidebar was actually inspired more by our own world than the 18th century. We thought that reading about ordinary people long ago who took action to correct a social wrong might resonate with and inspire our own readers. Women couldn’t vote in the 18th century, but they could choose where to spend their money. So can we, and so can modern kids. So we chose it in hopes that it would be an inspiring story—if only a minor thread in the eventual defeat of slavery.

      Similarly, in our closing phrase we wanted to acknowledge, if briefly, that modern sugar workers in the Caribbean and elsewhere often still labor under harsh and exploitative conditions, even if they are not officially enslaved. That’s yet another dark sugar story we didn’t have space to tell. So we intended this to read as “even though the people who work on modern sugar plantations are not officially slaves, their lives are often almost as hard as if they were.” Apologies if our wording was not as clear as it should have been! But we wanted to be sure that kids didn’t come away with the impression that just because slavery was abolished, sugar workers are just fine and dandy. Their lives, and the work, are still hard.

      Thank you again for reaching out; we always appreciate hearing from our readers!

      Liz Huyck
      Editor, Ask Magazine


    Sorry, “abolition” not “solution.”

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