The Joys of Life, Issue 5 – Corn Syrup

This week, I am doing a column on something very near and dear to my heart. In fact, it’s in my heart RIGHT NOW! It’s the thing that keeps the corn industry in business (seriously, who eats corn) and it’s the thing that keeps children up until 3 a.m. screaming about BANANAS!: Corn Syrup.

Corn Syrup is a game where one…nevermind, that’s Chess. (Column three, read it, I was right!) Corn Syrup (I’m not supposed to capitalize Syrup, but I did it anyway) is officially known as “glucose syrup.” It’s the liquid/solid version of glucose with a little bit of maltose and some oligosaccharides. That basically means that it’s putty-sugar mixed with more sugar.  

Now, you’ve also probably heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the opposite beverage of Hydrogen Hydrogen Oxygen. HFCS is also called “glucose-fructose,” because it combines fructose and glucose. Pretty self-explanatory. The FDA states that it is a “safe” ingredient for manufacturing. Yay! However, the FDA won’t let it be called “Corn sugar” because it has too much fructose and the FDA wants everyone to know that High Fructose Corn Syrup.  

We should probably go over the six main sugars. There’s the three basic ones: glucose, fructose, and galactose. GALACTOSE! It has such a good name. And then you can combine glucose and fructose to make sucrose, and, if that glucose comes from corn starch, it’s called HFCS. There’s also glucose + another glucose which is called maltose. And then there is glucose + GALACTOSE and that makes lactose. You might be intolerant to that one. 

Back to corn syrup, the process to make it is…how would you say…JOYful. Ok. So. You separate corn kernels from the cob. You wet mill it. What is that? It’s when you have one of those big mills, and then you drench it in water. 

Then you take 2.3 litres of this wet milled corn, and you suck the starch out of it, 947g worth of starch TO BE SPECIFIC! And then you stir that up into one kilogram of corn syrup. You know what else is loosely related to the number 947? Chapter 947 of the Ohio Laws and Rules that discusses Property Identification (I’m not supposed to capitalize that, but I did it anyway.) And you know what that means? Corn Syrup, just like Kiwis, is in the Big Leagues. 

Corn syrup is found in tons of things that bring joy to people the world over. THE WORLD OVER! Applesauce has it. Cranberry sauce has it. Pickles has it. BREAD HAS IT! What? WHY!? But do you know what else has it? TWIZZLERS.

Story time: Twizzlers, made by Y&S Candies Inc., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a “licorice-type” candy created in 1929. The company itself was founded in 1845 when, if William Henry Harrison had remained not-toxically masculine and also alive, he may have been president instead of James K. Polk. Twizzlers are “licorice-type” because there isn’t actually any licorice root in Twizzlers. Also, licorice comes from a root, who knew?

Story time: In Student Government, there is something known as Senate. This is where all students who choose to participate meet at lunch, share food, and discuss pressing student government issues like Senior Month or Finals. However, this year we aren’t allowed to share food, and are also not at school. 🙁 

Luckily, Senate has found a work around! (auto-correct wants me to say “The Senate,” but I didn’t do that). Senate sends 20 dollars worth of food to four random lottery winners each week, paid for by Student Government. Two weeks ago, I won, and I ordered 20 dollars worth of Twizzlers from 7-Eleven. 

Now, is this a good use of Student Government money? I would argue yes. But this does bring up a larger question about how Parker spends its money. Luckily, Parker is a school and also a not-for-profit, meaning all the non-classified stuff is free on ProPublica for anyone to research. And I recommend doing so. All you have to do is open up Google, and type “Francis Parker ProPublica.” 

I think it’s important that we understand, for instance, how much the maintenance team gets to redo parts of the school, and whether that money would be better spent ensuring there is sufficient, gender-balanced diversity across the grades of the school. I think it’s important we are at least financially literate in regards to how our own not-for-profit school is run, if we’re not going to be taught that in school. (This could be its own column, but we should be taught financial literacy in school). 

Let’s commit ourselves to learning more about how Parker spends its money to make sure that we are spending it well. Deal?