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Sweet and Low: A Family Story

by

Sweet and Low: A Family Story Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Sweet and Low is the amazing, bittersweet, hilarious story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family.
 
It is also the story of immigrants to the New World, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents accumulated in the long and sometimes corrupt life of the factor, and conducting interviews with members of his extended family. Along the way, the forty-year family battle over the fortune moves into its titanic phase, with the money and legacy up for grabs. Sweet and Low is the story of this struggle, a strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, and of an extraordinary family and its fight for the American dream.
Rich Cohen is the author of Tough Jews, The Avengers, and Machers and Rockers, and the memoir Lake Effect. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, among many other publications, and he is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. He lives in New York City.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
 
Sweet and Low is the story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family.
 
It is also the story of immigrants to the New World, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents accumulated in the long and sometimes corrupt life of the factor, and conducting interviews with members of his extended family. Along the way, the forty-year family battle over the fortune moves into its titanic phase, with the money and legacy up for grabs. Sweet and Low is the story of this struggle, a strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, and of an extraordinary family and its fight for the American dream.
"A rollicking, utterly compelling family saga that is part detective story, part morality tale, part tragedy and part farce. It is a story peopled with eccentrics and naïfs and scoundrels, and a story recounted with uncommon acuity and wit . . . Mr. Cohen . . . writes about his family with a mixture of affection, outrage and bafflement, startled and often in awe at the strangeness of his relatives and the bizarre trajectory of their lives . . . He has not settled for writing a simple, straight-ahead memoir, however. Instead, he's intercut the story with tart and highly entertaining asides about everything from the history of Brooklyn to the history of the sugar business, from the legacy of the immigrant experience to the big business of diets and weight loss . . . [Cohen has] managed to turn his family's rancorous history into a gripping memoir: a small classic of familial triumph, travail and strife, and a tellingand often hilariousparable about the pursuit and costs of the American Dream."Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
"Do not disinherit a man who makes his living with a pen. He may exact revenge by splashing the family's boils and foibles in black-and white on the pages of a spectacularly entertaining book. That is the misfortune of the family of the late Benjamin Eisenstadt, self-made scion behind those ubiquitous pink packages of fake sugar piled in bowls on restaurant tabletops the world over. But it's a riotous reading experience for the rest of us, who get to enjoy Rich Cohen's roiling, boisterous, hysterical and weirdly scholarly remembrance of his messy, badly behaved Jewish clan in Sweet and Low."Michael Ollove, The Baltimore Sun
 
"How decadent . . . to indulge in Rich Cohen's rollicking acount of his family and the business it built, a book that aims mostly to settle old scores, air dirty laundry and answer decades of petty insults from relatives . . . He paints vividly, and not flatteringly . . . [Cohen] has a terrific eye for detail, the little things that affix people and places in our memories, the gestures and miscues that shape family history . . . Reading him savage his family, you sometimes wonder, is he allowed to do this? It's a guilty pleasuresort of like sugar without the calories."Kate Zernike, The New York Times Book Review
 
"A wildly addictive, high-octane narrative. Cohen sashays with boisterous panache from the history of the sugar trade to grandmother Betty's brooch . . . Cohen moves from journalistic objectivity to the intensely personal with ease, enjoying the kind of access that historians almost never get . . . Is Rich Cohen, the grandson who got squat from the Sweet'N Low millions, taking revenge? No; this book is about his mother, and the way that her familythe whole saccharine-sticky lot of themwere truly and unnaturally awful to her, a woman who makes but brief appearances in the narrative and is never eulogized. A woman who could have survived her vile relatives only through a tremendous inner strength. It is this strength which, subtly, gloriously, Rich Cohen celebrates."John Barlowe, Washington Post
 
"The rollicking saga of Grandpa Ben's business, 'taken over and stripmined by hooligans.' The battle overt his vast family fortune leads to feuds between siblings, corruption, lawsuits and the ultimate disintegration of the clan. It is Cohen's good fortune to be on the side of the family that was disinherited. Sweet revenge is the energy behind this glorious book."Andrea Sachs, Time
 
"Alternately delicious and sour .  .  . All these characters are portrayed with elegantly phrased detail, along with Cohen's insightful eye for the larger picture. Sweet and Low might as well be a Balzacian 19th-century novel complete with a crisis, a contested will and a tragic resolution . . . Sweet and Low is never less than fascinating reading, both for what it says and what it doesn't. Hell hath no fury like a writer deprived."Melvin Bukiet, Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
"Sweet and Low is a wondrous evocation of an era and character types that won't be seen again."Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune
 
"The book is not just about settling scores . . . Mr. Cohen aims higher, writing not only about his family but also about the first Jewish settlers in N

Review:

"Disinherited from the family fortune built by his maternal grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, who invented the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low, Cohen mines a wealth of family history in this funny, angry, digressive memoir. Ben worked as a short-order cook during the Depression and conceived of but failed to patent the sugar packet before he and his son Marvin hit pay dirt in the 1950s with the saccharin formula for Sweet'N Low. Today a distant third to Equal and Splenda, Sweet'N Low is run by Marvin's son Jeff, who took over after Marvin and several other chief officers were charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in 1993. This story of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based company is, at its heart, a tale of immigrant strife and Cohen's fractious Jewish clan, including his grandmother Betty, for whom 'love is finite,' and his hypochondriac, housebound Aunt Gladys ('a tongue probing a sore'), who connived to eliminate her sister (Cohen's mother) from Betty's will. Though Cohen often dollies back in a self-conscious if breezy effort to pad his memoir with big ideas — the history of artificial sweeteners, the post-WWII weight-watching craze, etc. — the real grace of his writing (seen in Tough Jews) lies in the merciless, comic characterizations of his relatives. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"If you're sitting in a diner as you read this review, the subject of Rich Cohen's fascinating 'Sweet and Low' is probably in a bowl right beside your coffee cup. Those distinctive pink packets of no-cal sweetener have been in cafes and restaurants for more than 60 years, making an awful lot of money for the family that invented them. This is the story of who got the money, and who didn't.

... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"This story has it all: entrepreneurial spirit and the rise to fame and fortune from meager beginnings, rich New York history going back to the 1600s, Jewish gangsters, a federal raid, and family scandal....Fun all the way through." Booklist

Review:

"Cohen is one talented storyteller, and Sweet and Low is a great read." Library Journal

Review:

"It is the kind of book you want to read aloud to your friends, hoping they might mistakenly think that you're that funny, that knowledgeable, and that brave." Jonathan Safran Foer

Review:

"Cohen's book has a bit of a sore-loser's tone: His mother was cut out of her mother's will. Yet readers will be delighted he chose to settle scores in public....[A] wondrous evocation of an era and character types that, for better or worse, won't be seen again." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"[N]ot only an investigation into the sugar-substitute industry but also a multidimensional story on the effects of ambition and wealth on generations of one American family." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Cohen...has a terrific eye for detail, the little things that affix people and places in our memories, the gestures and miscues that shape family history." New York Times

Review:

"All these characters are portrayed with elegantly phrased detail, along with Cohen's insightful eye for the larger picture....Sweet and Low is never less than fascinating reading." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

The invention. The fortune. The payoffs. The convictions. The family.

Synopsis:

Sweet and Low is the amazing, bittersweet, hilarious story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family.
It is also the story of immigrants to the New World, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents accumulated in the long and sometimes corrupt life of the factor, and conducting interviews with members of his extended family. Along the way, the forty-year family battle over the fortune moves into its titanic phase, with the money and legacy up for grabs. Sweet and Low is the story of this struggle, a strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, and of an extraordinary family and its fight for the American dream.

Synopsis:

Sweet and Low is the bittersweet, hilarious story of Ben Eisenstadt, who invented sugar packets and Sweet'N Low, and amassed the great fortune that would later destroy his family. It is a story of immigrants, Jewish gangsters, and Brooklyn; of sugar, saccharine, obesity, and diet crazes; of jealousy, betrayal, and ambition. Disinherited along with his mother and siblings, Rich Cohen has written a rancorous, colorful history of his extraordinary family and their pursuit of the American dream.

About the Author

Rich Cohen is the author of Tough Jews, The Avengers, and Machers and Rockers, and the memoir Lake Effect. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, among many other publications, and he is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374272296
Subtitle:
A Family Story
Author:
Cohen, Rich
Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Businessmen
Subject:
Brooklyn (new york, n.y.)
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20060404
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Illustrations:
6 cds, 7 hours
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.11 in

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Related Subjects


Biography » Literary
Business » Biographies
History and Social Science » Americana » New York
History and Social Science » Americana » Northeast

Sweet and Low: A Family Story Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374272296 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Disinherited from the family fortune built by his maternal grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, who invented the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low, Cohen mines a wealth of family history in this funny, angry, digressive memoir. Ben worked as a short-order cook during the Depression and conceived of but failed to patent the sugar packet before he and his son Marvin hit pay dirt in the 1950s with the saccharin formula for Sweet'N Low. Today a distant third to Equal and Splenda, Sweet'N Low is run by Marvin's son Jeff, who took over after Marvin and several other chief officers were charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in 1993. This story of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based company is, at its heart, a tale of immigrant strife and Cohen's fractious Jewish clan, including his grandmother Betty, for whom 'love is finite,' and his hypochondriac, housebound Aunt Gladys ('a tongue probing a sore'), who connived to eliminate her sister (Cohen's mother) from Betty's will. Though Cohen often dollies back in a self-conscious if breezy effort to pad his memoir with big ideas — the history of artificial sweeteners, the post-WWII weight-watching craze, etc. — the real grace of his writing (seen in Tough Jews) lies in the merciless, comic characterizations of his relatives. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This story has it all: entrepreneurial spirit and the rise to fame and fortune from meager beginnings, rich New York history going back to the 1600s, Jewish gangsters, a federal raid, and family scandal....Fun all the way through."
"Review" by , "Cohen is one talented storyteller, and Sweet and Low is a great read."
"Review" by , "It is the kind of book you want to read aloud to your friends, hoping they might mistakenly think that you're that funny, that knowledgeable, and that brave."
"Review" by , "Cohen's book has a bit of a sore-loser's tone: His mother was cut out of her mother's will. Yet readers will be delighted he chose to settle scores in public....[A] wondrous evocation of an era and character types that, for better or worse, won't be seen again."
"Review" by , "[N]ot only an investigation into the sugar-substitute industry but also a multidimensional story on the effects of ambition and wealth on generations of one American family."
"Review" by , "Cohen...has a terrific eye for detail, the little things that affix people and places in our memories, the gestures and miscues that shape family history."
"Review" by , "All these characters are portrayed with elegantly phrased detail, along with Cohen's insightful eye for the larger picture....Sweet and Low is never less than fascinating reading."
"Synopsis" by ,
The invention. The fortune. The payoffs. The convictions. The family.

"Synopsis" by ,
Sweet and Low is the amazing, bittersweet, hilarious story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family.
It is also the story of immigrants to the New World, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents accumulated in the long and sometimes corrupt life of the factor, and conducting interviews with members of his extended family. Along the way, the forty-year family battle over the fortune moves into its titanic phase, with the money and legacy up for grabs. Sweet and Low is the story of this struggle, a strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, and of an extraordinary family and its fight for the American dream.
"Synopsis" by ,
Sweet and Low is the bittersweet, hilarious story of Ben Eisenstadt, who invented sugar packets and Sweet'N Low, and amassed the great fortune that would later destroy his family. It is a story of immigrants, Jewish gangsters, and Brooklyn; of sugar, saccharine, obesity, and diet crazes; of jealousy, betrayal, and ambition. Disinherited along with his mother and siblings, Rich Cohen has written a rancorous, colorful history of his extraordinary family and their pursuit of the American dream.
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