The “Glory” of Sugar: Its Conflicted Role in the (Buffy) Universe

Sugar is a glorious thing. It can be. Kind of like Glory “Glorificous” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Without sugar and caffeine I would not be able to get my day started. On a good day, I may have four coke zeros and a bag of gummy bears. Yes, that’s addiction. Although, not really. Consider the fact that when I found out I was pregnant four years ago, I cut coke zeros out of my daily routine-I went cold turkey. I did the same with sugar. You see, I have been told and I read research that stated that sugar consumption was associated with having a daughter. I swear I read that research somewhere. I wanted a baby boy so I gave up all forms of sugar until I craved strawberries. But giving up the sugar was quite a difficult task nowadays.  In 2011, the world produced about 168 million tons of sugar.  Furthermore, the average person consumes about 24 kilograms of sugar each year (in industrialized countries), equivalent to over 260 food calories per person, per day.  Wow, that’s intense!

Many people in my social network were happy by my decision to drop sugar from my diet because there is this belief out there that sugar is to blame for all that is wrong in this world.  I am not talking about high fructose corn syrup which appears to be everywhere and anywhere, but just natural sugar.  Natural sugars are good for you as with anything in moderation. High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, is a chemical cocktail designed by humans in an attempt to make sugar cheaper and it has had wild success infiltrating every facet of our children’s meals which can help explain why kids, especially Hispanic children, are starting to get high rates of Type II Diabetes.

But you see, sugar, specifically, sugar molecules are one of the building blocks of life.  Just this past week, astronomers using a powerful radio telescope in Chile said that they had discovered sugar molecules, orbiting a young star similar to the Sun.  The astronomers found glycolaldehyde, a sugar compound described as essential to the existence of life, in the gas surrounding said star, located some 400 light-years from Earth (see ).  Because the star is similar to our (planet earth’s) sun, the finding shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in that solar system at the time of planet formation.  This discovery of sugar can herald major things to come.

Going back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sugar has been in production in some form since ancient times in the Indian subcontinent. Sugar was a luxury in Europe prior to the 18th century when it became more widely available. It then became popular and by the 19th century it was considered a necessity. This evolution of taste and demand for sugar as an essential food ingredient unleashed major economic and social changes. On Buffy, the character of Glory, also known as ‘the Beast’, was a hell god who became too powerful and the other gods feared her, so they sent her to live on Earth in the body of a male baby who gained partial control over her human host 20 years later. Being a god, Glory is the first character who is able to consistently pose a mortal threat to Buffy..Sugar is in a way kind of like Glory-all powerful and at times innocuous-seeming but high doses can be toxic. However, we can’t forget sugar’s building block function and thus we may want to find a way to co-exist with sugar that doesn’t lead to heart disease and diabetes but allows us to enjoy a good gummy here and there.


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