A chemist named Constantine Fahlberg came home from work one night and took a bite of bread. It tasted much sweeter than usual. By accident, the bread that he was eating had become covered with some chemical he had made at work that day. But which one? Like any good scientist he had to find out which chemical it was, so he tasted everything on his lab bench to see what was so sweet. It turned out to be benzoic sulfimide. Fahlberg called it saccharine.
As Dr. Michal Meyer, the editor-in-chief of Chemical Heritage, explains in her “Chance Discoveries” video, Fahlberg “took 10 grams…swallowed it, waited for 24 hours to see what would happen and found it went right through him. It was basically unmetabolized by his body.” That was in 1897. Fahlberg’s discovery came in handy about 50 years later during World War II when sugar supplies were low. Ten years after that, the saccharine product Sweet’n Low was stocked on the shelves of grocery stores across America. P.S. The name “Sweet’n Low” is from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson called The Princess: Sweet and Low.