These pink little packets with a musical staff logo, containing powdered substitute sugar made largely from granulated saccharin, are the perfect answer to fooling one’s sweet tooth. Not for purists or the health-conscious but for every woman who wanted to have her cake or coffee without sacrificing her waistline. First introduced in 1957 by a Jewish father-and-son team, over 500 billion packets have been produced to date. Think of them as a wink, a sly way of bypassing the confinement of the caloric laws with no loss in taste—an eruv guarding against fatty expansion.
Daphne Merkin, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor at Elle, teaches writing at Hunter College. Her latest book is a memoir, This Close to Happy, a reckoning with depression.