Sweet and Low | Rich Cohen

Summary of: Sweet and Low: A Family Story
By: Rich Cohen


Embark on a journey through the fascinating family drama behind the Sweet’N Low empire in Rich Cohen’s ‘Sweet and Low: A Family Story.’ This book uncovers the story of Benjamin Eisenstadt, a Polish immigrant who became the inventor of the revolutionary sugar packet and, later, the wildly popular sugar substitute, Sweet’N Low. As you delve deeper into the book, you will be introduced to multiple generations of the Eisenstadt family, uncovering the trials and tribulations they faced in their rise to success. The book captures a memorable family saga that reveals not only the history of a product that changed the world but also the inner workings and complexities of a family, dealing with ambition, loyalty, and betrayal.

Brooklyn: The Birthplace of Diet Culture

Brooklyn’s entrepreneurial spirit, abundance of sugar, and European eating habits led to the invention of diet cola, Sweet’N Low, and the bathroom scale. This birthed America’s obsession with dieting, which persists to this day.

From Waiter to Entrepreneur

Benjamin Eisenstadt’s journey from a waiter to an entrepreneur is a tale of perseverance and grit. Born to Polish immigrants, Ben’s father died young, and his family struggled to make ends meet. After law school, he found himself unemployed during the Depression. In 1931, Ben married Betty, who came from a family that owned a diner, and Ben got a job there. One morning, he witnessed a patron being arrested, and Ben offered his legal services, which became quite successful. Eventually, Ben invented the sugar packet that every restaurant now uses, propelling him and his family into great wealth. Despite this success, family drama plagued the Eisenstadt family, leading Ben to disinherit his daughter and leaving the family fortune to his grandson. The story of Benjamin Eisenstadt is a remarkable example of how one man’s determination and resourcefulness can lead to profound success.

The Sweet Success of Cumberland Packing Company

Cumberland Packing Company, which started as a tea bag manufacturer in Brooklyn, New York, went on to invent the packaging of individual sugar and Sweet’N Low substitutes. The company is a lesson in perseverance, resilience, and how to manage a family business successfully over generations. The Eisenstadt family learned three rules when managing a family-run business: Forget installing the first-born son as the senior executive; include cousins and remote kin when searching for new talent among relatives; and don’t bestow power quickly. Cumberland Packing Company used their family-driven business foundation to innovate and stay ahead in the food and drink industries. Their inventions changed the way we consumer sugar and sweeteners, and the company continues to grow today.

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