I don’t drink. I don’t use drugs. However, I am addicted to sugar. I know this because no matter how many times I vow to quit the stuff (nearly every day), I can’t stop myself from lacing my peach iced-tea at Blackstone Coffee with 5 squirts of simple syrup. While Blackstone’s syrup is cane sugar, most beverages are sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). And I got to wondering, how much corn actually goes into making a can of soda, specifically, a Coca-cola?
The nutritional label on a can of Coca-cola says it contains 39 g of sugar. But how much HFCS is that? Well, about 1.32 g of HFCS equals 1 g of sugar. So a 12 oz Coca-cola contains 51.45 g of HFCS – that’s nearly 3 tablespoons of the stuff. But how much corn is that?
I googled it and couldn’t find anything definitive, so I emailed one of the creators of King Corn – an amazing documentary on how corn is in everything we eat, therefore, we are made up of mostly corn. I highly recommend you watch it. He said that they calculated that 10,000 pounds of corn could make 57,000 cans of soda.
So that means 1 lbs of corn makes 5.7 cans of Coca-cola. In other words, 10,000 lbs of corn creates 2,932,468 g of HFCS, which in turn sweetens 57,000 cans of Coca-cola.
If we estimate that pound of corn (shelled, just kernels, no cob) is about 4 ears of corn, that means each can of Coca-cola has approximately 0.7 ears of corn in it.
Then I got a Tweet from @vtknitboy who found this article that states “A bushel of corn (70 lbs) can be converted to about 32 lbs. of high fructose corn syrup.” Using my calculations (the author of the Fooducate article makes an error by equating 1 g of HFCS to 1 g of sugar), that means 1 lbs of corn can make 4 cans of Coca-cola. Or that each can of Coca-cola contains one ear of corn.
So next time you raise that ice cold cold Coke to your lips, remember you are eating an entire ear of corn.