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Sunday, August 8, 2010

LAND OF THE SWEETENER PLUM FAIRY

A MORAL IN THE LAND OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY

Mary Nash Stoddard

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a little old chemist toiled over his hot beaker, trying to find a good medicine to cure very bad tummy aches. The mixture boiled over and spilled onto his finger. He licked his finger and it tasted sweet. Very, very sweet. Mmmmmmmm.

Because it was very, very sweet, he knew everone would love it. For, you see, he lived in the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Everyone worshipped her and her sweetness. But, they were all getting fatter and fatter, and could not climb two consecutive flights of stairs if their lives depended upon it. They wondered why.

The people were ripe for a sweet new product on which they and their children could gorge. The company the little old chemist worked for, W.E. Swirl, could make millions and billions of dollars. But, the bad news was that they would have to tell all the people in Sugar Plum Fairyland that the Sugar Plum Fairy, whom they all loved and worshipped, was bad for them. How could they get the people to believe them and change their ways? So, they thought and they thought . . .

Aha! They could invent a new fairy for the people and their children to worship. They could call her the Sweetener Plum Fairy. But, they would have to make the people of Fairyland think she would be good for them. She would make them skinny and fit, and not hurt them not one little bit. Yes, that's it - make them skinny and fit!

Before the folks at W.E. Swirl could present the Sweetener Plum Fairy to all the people, they would have to get approval of a special government agency in the capital city of Fairyland. In their rush to get the Auspicious Governmental Agency [AGA] to approve this good/bad new fairy, they would have to first prove that she would harm no on in the sweet kingdom.

That was when everything started to fall apart. Oh, dear me, the results of some of the scientists' tests of the new Sweetener Plum Fairy were quite alarming. She made a lot of little lab creatures very, very sick. Some of them, she even made very, very dead. But, oh dear, the results of those tests were covered up in a gossamer blanket.

Finally, the fellows at W.E. Swirl, were able to cut through all that big bad bureaucratic red tape. Now, did their actions set a President, oh, I meant precedent, in dealing with government agencies? Only time would tell.

Then one day, [big sigh], the Sugar Plum Fairy died. She was immediately replaced in the hearts and minds of the people by the new Sweetener Plum Fairy. The deed was done. At last, W.E. Swirl began to reap its vast rewards. Things looked so rosy . Even the great TV god was taught to sing the praises of the new, improved [?] Sweetener Plum Fairy.

In the home of one of the fellows from W.E. Swirl, a little boy said that the Sweetener Plum Fairy’s swirly new trademark looked just like a picture of a big, bad storm. Everyone glared at him, and he never said that again. Not ever.

But, wait - what’s this? Some folks in Sweetener Plum Fairyland started to get sick from eating and drinking things that contained the new sweetener. They began to complain and report their symptoms to the AGA. Ever so slowly, a series of symptoms began to emerge. They sounded vaguely familiar to the folks at W.E. Swirl. Where had they heard of these symptoms before? They thought and they thought. Then, it came to them like a vision - those poor little creatures in the lab tests. Oops.

Not to worry. After all the company had been through to win approval of all the people in Fairyland, they were not about to have it fall down around their dirty little feet now. Why, their product was selling really well. There were even new plans in the works for the sweetener to be added to: dog food, motor oil, shoe polish and sticky, artificial confectioner cafes.

Was the swirly stuff recalled when people started getting very sick? Did the AGA “ban” it? Don’t be silly! Instead, the company and the AGA decided it was a dandy idea to approve the swirly stuff for even more products.

But, what about all those poor people in Fairyland who began to feel like all those poor little lab creatures did? Too bad some of them never stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, the Sweetener Plum Fairy, whom they had come to love and depend on, might be the reason they were getting so sick.

In order to save the folks at W.E. Swirl, the AGA confused the poor fairy-folk with windy words and dandy definitions, saying that deaths linked to the swirly stuff were symptoms! Some folks wondered why “death” was listed under “other” in the AGA reports. Perhaps the AGA officials had been dipping too deeply into the swirly stuff themselves?

Some of the folks at the AGA tried hard to cut through all the sticky, ticky tape. One director, who was acting, suggested that they regulate all sweet substances like medicines. Now, wasn’t that what the little old Swirl chemist was making when he licked the accidental sweet spill, in the beginning?

Meanwhile, the swirly stuff twirled and swirled out of the land of the Sweetener Plum Fairy, until it encircled the entire world. And, the little boy who said the swirly symbol looked like a big, bad storm, just sat there and watched quietly, with big, sad eyes. But, he never said that again - ever.

There are those who say that the Sugar Plum Fairy may not have been perfect, but maybe she wasn’t all that bad, either. [Sigh!] If only the people in Fairyland hadn’t worshipped her quite so much. Then again, maybe she’s only asleep for awhile, awaiting the kiss of a handsome prince to awaken her.

Now, wasn’t that a fun fantasy, children? But, sooooo silly! Something like that could never happen in real life, now could it? Sweet dreams, my darlings.

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Mary Nash Stoddard/Author Deadly Deception Story of Aspartame (Odenwald Press 1998)
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline
[1987-present]
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