• food;
  • sugar;
  • coffee;
  • commodity history;
  • (social) class

The creation of a scientifically pure sweetness was a historical process comparable to the standardisation of cooking oil or salt. But the case of sugar is almost unique. Today, quite different processes, concerned more with marketing than with chemistry, serve to elaborate, multiply and reshuffle products. These have the common objective of enlarging the aggregate market. They play upon taste, class aspiration and otherwise, to diversify the market in terms of class, ethnicity, and other criteria of social assortment, by inflecting the products themselves. Here I argue that two different meanings of the term ‘purity’ are popular, and that both are used to broaden and to deepen consumption.