Obituaries: Benjamin Eisenstadt

Benjamin Eisenstadt was the man who made the sugar spoon obsolete and went on to develop the low calorie sweetener Sweet'N Low. He followed a circuitous route to great fortune and was well known in his later years as a philanthropist and a major benefactor to the Maimonides Medical Center in New York.

The son of Russian immigrants, Eisenstadt was born in 1906 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and appeared headed for a career as a lawyer after he graduated from St John's University law school in 1929. The Depression spoiled his chances and he took a job working in his father- in-law's cafeteria before opening one of his own, the Cumberland, near the naval shipyard in Brooklyn in 1940.

Providence struck again when the end of the Second World War left Eisenstadt bereft of customers and, recalling an uncle who had once operated a company that filled tea-bags, he turned the cafeteria into a tea-bag factory, the Cumberland Packing Company. Overwhelmed by existing suppliers and faced with another business failure, Eisenstadt realised that the same equipment could be used to put sugar in little paper bags.

At a time when restaurants still used open sugar bowls and sugar spoons his idea was revolutionary. Unfortunately Eisenstadt was still naive and showed his invention to the existing sugar giants who promptly set up their own sugar-packet productions and soon had America, and later the world, shaking its sugar before sweetening its hot drinks.

Eisenstadt's luck changed in 1957 when, tinkering with his chemistry-educated son, he mixed saccharin, which was only available as a liquid or pill and restricted for use for diabetics and the obese, with dextrose. Taking care to patent what was the first granulated low-calorie sugar substitute, he named the product Sweet'N Low after the Tennyson poem and distinguished it from white sugar packets with a pink packet printed with a treble-clef musical logo.

This time his timing was perfect and he rode the crest of the 1960s health craze to fortune. He later developed an even lower-calorie sugar substitute branded Equal and sold in blue packets, as well as a butter substitute, Butter Buds, and a salt substitute, Nu-Salt.

Despite increased competition, the company, which still manufactures on the site of the cafeteria, turns over $100m a year, employs 400 people and turns out 50 million packets of Sweet'N Low a day from a global web of plants including ones in England, India, Israel and Canada.

Benjamin Eisenstadt, entrepreneur and philanthropist: born New York 23 December 1906; married Betty Gellman (two sons, two daughters); died New York 8 April 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015