A couple months ago, our lunch crowd ended up talking about High-Fructose Corn Syrup, the heir apparent to the wrath that had previously been applied to fat. HFCS (as those in the “biz” call it) is certainly of some concern because of its high glycemic index (which is why it’s used, because it’s cheaper for a given amount of sweetness), which in general isn’t a great thing. I don’t, however, think that for health concerns it’s really any different than plain sugar.

Anyway, during the discussion, one of my friends – one of my smart and insightful friends – who I will refer to as “Sam”, asked an unexpected question.

Where does high fructose corn syrup come from?

The stunned silence lasted for at least 15 seconds, at which time somebody finally managed to blurt out “Corn”, and the table dissolved into laughter.

Which meant that Sam had to answer to the nickname “corn” from then on.

When I was packing for moving, I was mindful of the history of my team packing “extra” boxes to send with somebody when they moved. To be fair, I was more remembering my role as an instigator and wondering how it would come back to haunt me. A previous departee had – mindful of what was coming – gone as far as signing his name and putting cryptic symbols on all of his boxes, on the theory that nobody would be able forge his markings successfully, and he could easily set aside the “extra boxes” from the real ones.

He was right that we couldn’t forge his markings, but he didn’t realize that it was trivial to scribble over his markings, and so he got a whole bunch of boxes that were indistinguishable from each other.

I decided to go with the flow. After packing, I had one extra box, which I left open sitting on the other boxes, with a note that simply said, “corn” in the bottom. And yesterday, when my boxes showed up, there was one extra box, containing two keyboards and a bunch of other stuff I tried to leave in my office, and one ear of corn.

Nicely done.

Way back in my VC days – when we moved every 6-9 months – you had to be very careful with your box labels. During one of our moves there were lots of surplus computers sitting in the halls of our building, and I stickered every one I could find for one of my friends. IIRC, he ended up with 15 extra system units stacked all along one wall of his office.

(update) I got an email from Sam today, and I am overjoyed to note that he went into my office with an ear of corn in his hand when he looked in the box and saw the note that said, “corn”, which seemed amazingly prescient to him (I really just got lucky…)


Comments (1)

  1. Peter Ritchie says:

    You’d hard pressed to prove HFCS is worse than table sugar.  The bad press is around it’s abilities to be used more effectively than table sugar (i.e. it has antibacterial properties which means you can create sugary foods that have a longer shelf-life) meaning the prevalence of high-calorie foods has increased since the refinement of HFCS.