Yesterday Hubby and I went on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is another post for another day.
Our tour guide was David from Urban Oyster, and he really knows his stuff! We learned many interesting things, but here’s one story that really stayed with me.
It’s all about Sweet’n Low.
There was this fellow, named Benjamin Eisenstadt. (You can read his obituary from the April 10, 1966 New York Times here.) And our tour guide David told us Ben’s story, as such:
Ben owned a cafeteria that was located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The cafeteria did quite well until the Yard slowed production after World War II ended.
Always thinking, Ben began to puzzle over his messy sugar bowls. “Why” he thought, “doesn’t someone invent individual sugar packets?” So, he proceeded to do just that. He used tea bag filling machinery and converted it to sugar packet filling machinery.
Very pleased with his results, he went to the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar, and presented his idea. They told him they needed a couple of weeks to think it over, before buying into his idea.
When Ben met with them a couple of weeks later, the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar told him they did not need to buy his invention, because they had just produced their own sugar packing machine.
Ben hadn’t patented his idea, so Domino stole his idea and ran with it.
Ben was pissed! So, to retaliate against Domino, he invented the powdered saccharin sweetener which he named Sweet’n Low, named after a popular song. (That’s why there are musical references on the packaging.)
The New York Times doesn’t mention the rivalry between Benjamin Eisenstadt and Domino Sugar; neither does the Wikipedia entry.
So, maybe I’m telling you an Urban Legend.
But I don’t think so.
Ben’s distribution company, Cumberland Packing Corporation, is still located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the same building that used to be the cafeteria. I took this picture of the building’s sign.
The New York Times obituary says “With sales of about $100 million a year, the company, which employs 400 people, turns out 50 million Sweet ‘N Low packets a day in what used to be a cafeteria.”
The moral of this story?
Well, you decide.