Why Is There Corn in Your Coke?

Coca-cola used to be made with real sugar, but in 1984 the makers of the soft drink replaced sugar with corn syrup. Why did this happen? Part of the reason is because corn syrup became less expensive than sugar. In fact, sugar is nearly twice as expensive in America as in the rest of the world. In this video, Professor Diana Thomas explains why.

United States laws actually limit the amount of sugar imported each year. This limit causes the price of sugar to rise. Such a quota is meant to increase profits of domestic sugar producers and to protect them from foreign competition. The cost to Americans of this quota is a staggering $3 billion each year, in the form of higher prices for sugar and sugar products. But since the cost is split among all citizens, it isn’t worth it to the average American to complain.

In contrast, sugar producers are much in favor of this policy. From 1980 to 1998, each U.S. sugar farmer earned approximately $3 million extra each year because of the quota. The farmers profit generously from this quota, while consumers are made worse off.

How can we prevent some groups of taking advantage of others through laws like sugar quotas? One solution would be to limit what government can do.


  1. Daniel Pealer

    If you look closer you will also notice that the sugar quota, by driving up demand for HFCS, A corn product, it also incidentally drives up the price of many other products that happen to use corn in their production, from beef (corn fed cattle), and poultry, to Toothpaste (sorbitol is made from corn), Makeup, and Perfume, the dispersed costs of the sugar quota echo through out the economy and not just in things that contain sweeteners.

  2. Matt Wavle

    What in your opinion is the problem and solution?  How would your solution differ in its results?  Who would be screaming the loudest if the state were to step completely out of the sugar market manipulation role, and what would you say to these "screamers" and to the people who would otherwise be inclined to listen to them?

  3. mackenzietanquary

    I feel that if we want to import sugar, we should be allowed to import sugar!

  4. Yotsuya

    We don’t really need the protectionist policies to encourage agriculture in the US. we do so much already- look at california, idaho and florida.Additionally if we relied on foreign sources who attempted to price gouge there would be a market incentive to begin competing against them and we would transition to include more agricultural pursuits- protectionism not required. 

  5. taschrant

    Is it possible that all these corn subsidies are contributing also to Americans’ obesity?  My thought is that if you’re providing huge incentives for farmers to produce corn, corn and more corn, they have no incentive to grow other fruits and/or vegetables.  Low supply of those fruits/vegetables equals high prices.  At least that’s how I see it at many grocery stores.  What are your thoughts?

  6. Matt Wavle

    We’re all Losers when the State decides it will pick Winners and Losers.  I wonder how many diabetics were the result of our taxes used to pay sugar farmers?

  7. Anonymous

    Absolutely wrong! Although both are bad for you in large amounts, New study shows HFCS in animal models causes organ fat deposits at a pace much higher table sugar. Also respected MDs and nutritionists (David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D at Harvard and Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillC)

    If you dive into the medical literature you will notice that we are eating more sugar yes, because HFCS is cheap and it is in everything. But HFCS does different things to our metabolism in the way that the molecules of fructose and glucose are unbound and are absorbed easier and fructose this way gets deposited as fat in your liver. People need to wake up and reduce all sugar from their diet but definitely stay away from HFCS in my opinion. I am also an MD who has researched this. Please look at the latest research and real science instead of spewing others propaganda.

  8. rjh245

    i buy Mexican Coke because it is made with sugar

  9. Anonymous

    And please don’t accuse people of spreading propaganda because they made a statement which is still mostly correct just because the person hasn’t read a piece of fairly obscure and preliminary research.

    I’m not saying your wrong, just that you shouldn’t be an arse about it. You sound like a conspiracy nut ‘wake up’ and ‘spewing propaganda’ , the moment I hear them I am filled with an urge to ignore anything that person just said.

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