25 Sep The New Yorker: The Race to Redesign Sugar
Forget artificial sweeteners. Researchers are now developing new forms of real sugar, to deliver sweetness with fewer calories. But tricking our biology is no easy feat.
Every workday, at ten o’clock, at noon, and at three in the afternoon, Eran Baniel receives an alert on his phone: the call to taste. When I joined him on a Monday morning in January, in an office park a few miles east of Tel Aviv, he was sitting at a desk with two white china plates of Petit Beurre cookies in front of him. The cookies looked identical, but a label identified the plate on Baniel’s left as 792, and the one on his right as 431. “Petit Beurre is our preferred platform,” Baniel told me, breaking off a corner of a 792 cookie and crunching it thoughtfully. “It’s fast to make and fast to taste.” He sipped some water, took a leftover shard of 431, and invited me to join him as he repeated the process. The second cookie tasted better somehow—a little more buttery, maybe—but that was not what Baniel was assessing. The two sets of cookies had been made with the same recipe, except that one batch contained forty per cent less sugar. The question that Baniel had to answer was: which?