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Coffee, Me And A Not So "Sweet" Splenda?

Thursday, 21 Feb 2008 | 8:37 AM ET
Splenda
Splenda
Splenda

How much coffee can one woman drink? Watch me. I never drank coffee until I started covering the O.J. Simpson trial (come to think of it, I never drank much alcohol before then, either).

I am so blessed to have this job. But it does lend itself to bad habits. Monday (a holiday) I drove five hours to Yuma, got up at 2 am Tuesday to work all day, then drove three hours to San Diego to fly to San Francisco, got up at 5 am Wednesday to work--well, you get the picture. I'm writing this at the San Francisco airport about to head home after having a glass of red wine chased with a mocha latte.

Wow. That grosses even me out. Fortunately, Thursday I'm back in LA talking about a great story--sugar gone sour.

Sugar beet and cane farmers are having a tough time. Things are far from sweet. Sales are flat as Americans diet and as high-fructose corn syrup corners markets like sodas. I'm telling you--is there anything the corn industry doesn't conquer?

Meantime, Mexico can now sell sugar into the U.S. Market. The new farm bill--if it's ever signed--may insist that 85 percent of the domestic market come from domestic sources. So much for free trade!

But the sugar industry isn't going after corn or Mexico. It's going after Splenda, suing the zero-calorie sweetener from Johnson & Johnson for alleged false advertising. Splenda claims it's made from sugar. The farmers say it is not. They say it is manmade and contains chlorine. Splenda is suing the sugar industry for smearing its reputation--seeking $25 million--but the sugar farmers are looking for potentially a sweet $1 BILLION! They've hired a big gun, Mark Lanier, who successfully sued Merck over Vioxx.

The trial will take place in Los Angeles federal court this spring. Why LA? Where better to decide what's fake and what's real?

Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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