Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Fun survey finds better sweetener, saves lives

Sweet things taste good, and a non-sugar sweetener that is actually good for people could be good for them. Peptides could do it.
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Screening a library of sweetness peptides; the 10,000 sweetest sweetness peptides could be sent via letter to 10,000 people and evaluated for $9000 (Footnote). They taste the sweetness peptide, and rate it on a mailing postcard. Then the 99th percentile of wonderfulness of flavor is used to develop new combinatorial libraries of variants and make another 10,000 variants for another round of testing.

Screened again, the new crop of 99.9th percentile of wonderfulness of flavor provides 10 new sweetness peptides plus one from the first group at a development $ of only $18,000. It also provides a moment of entertainment to 20,000 people surveyed.

Earnest persons who want to improve human health and technologists could continue this process until they found a sweetness peptide that was actively preferred over sweetening with actual high fructose corn sweetner (HFCS) or sucrose. Avid replacement of HFCS and sugar would then reduce the caloric content of junk food and other foods potentially making people less plump and healthier.

Or does it?

I read that artificial sweeteners raise blood sugar, and that this in a similarity to nutritive carbohydrate sweetners like sugar and HFCS. Screening a library might/might not solve it. They could screen a library of 10,000 sweetness peptides that are either 1) descended as the third generation of even greater deliciousness amplification, or 2) have the greatest diversity of amino acid sequences at the peptide; noting the greatest molecular heterogenity at making the Sweet action/sensation could be based on different physiological mechanisms.

Have each of the 10,000 people at the blood sugar effect peptide screening also have a pee test cassette in their envelope. At 2020 existing technology a pee-on strip diabetes blood sugar screen is available (5 cents pee strip each, ebay).

So, it would taste food, be good for you, and take $9,000-27,000 to improve the health of billions. It's nice it tastes good.

Lengthy Footnote: how much it all costs

(may have hints of entertainment, and is rich ground for thinking of even cheaper ways to make the survey)

Sending out the peptides, and getting the results back via mail:

A largish postcard has a sticker with peptides on it. The mailing address is actually a deadhesible sticker with the return address of the science people/surveyors under it.

The postcard contains circle the number [1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-(11)] lines on the large blank side, or a better system. The receiver licks the peptide sticker and fills in the flavor evaluation. It goes to 11(!).

After they are done filling it out they just peel the To: person address label off, revealing the To:Company return address. The postcard already contains a US subscriber-card like “no postage necessary box” on the front corner. The person just drops the completed survey, with peptide sticker still on it, back in the mail.

2020 US Postage on a postcard is 35 cents. So postage for 10,000 postcards at 70 cents roundtrip is $7000.

Processing the survey: $45-150.00 to sort incoming mail at $15/hr (Seattle wage)

Notably, the human sorters only bother to pick out anything with a top rating (11), so they can just grab a pile and riffle and glance at the postcards, or use a better system. 10,000 postcards takes 3-10 hours. The 99.9th percentile 100 postcards are collected.

(3 hours could be an overestimate if the person’s pen marks the side of the postcard, and a side view of a stack makes pulling out the [11]s 100-200 postcards happen at a glance)

Once the porstcard reaches the surveyors, the technologist then assays (measures, finds the chemical identity of) the peptides at the postcard stickers of the very 10 best rated sweetness peptides.

But, O omagine a critic saying “didn’t someone lick that? Can you really send it through the mail? A slight change fixes that. The peptide printer prints a Sample dot on teh postcard in a separate, adjacent area to the [1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-19-11] lines associated with it, and a separte much bigger area of peptide on teh peel off sticker. When the person is done filling out the survey they remove all the stickers from the postcard completely.

They find out the seqence of the peptide that is on the postcard, and publish and transfer the technology of the results.

$7000 postage $90-150 receive labor $90 prep & outgoing “card handling” cost $1010 postcard stock paper and stickers Published parallel peptide manufacture and inkjet printing of peptide and sticker making: $625

Total $8815

15 hours of peptide sequencing, A US Biochemist in pharmaceutical manufacturing 80K/year, US, 15 hours $41.6 $/hr $625 to make the 10,000 peptide sticker papers (I’m including the cost of the peptide sequencer and reagents in this because you can always go to a 1/5th cost biochemist in China, and use the other 4/5 of the money on the peptide machine activity).

There is a (published) 100 simultaneous channel peptide sequencer. I think is attachable to an inkjet printer that can take 8.5x11 peel-off sticker sheets (a blank white sticker on alibaba is 1/1000 of a cent), or it would be more optimal, the printer takes perforated cardstock to directly print the peptide laden postcards.

beanangel, Dec 27 2020


       Concerning consumer taste- testing, my father taught me this: that if you offer your taste- testing panel several quite similar flavours, they will report a preference for whichever one tastes strongest.   

       They don't really prefer it. They don't really prefer any of them, but they feel they ought to pick one, so they pick whichever one stands out. And this is why so many processed foods are over- flavoured (or, at least, why they were over- flavoured in the mid- twentieth century, which is when his industry experience dated from).
pertinax, Dec 27 2020

       [pertinax] Perhaps they have started to measure brainwaves/EEGs when they do taste testing and now food will take on better flavors. Thanks for reading however much of that you read.   

       The biggest improvement to sending out a bunch of lickable sweetness peptides that comes to mind is as many as 4 - 6 stickers might fit on the back of a postcard.   

       That makes the entire thing 6 times cheaper, $4000-6000 to screen all those flavors.
beanangel, Dec 27 2020

       I don't know about the rest of the human race, but I like my snack foods strongly flavored. Anyway the obvious solution would be to keep your panel around much longer, have them eat a palate cleanser between tastings, and have them rate each one on ordinal scale rather than by comparison.
Voice, Dec 27 2020

       I like unsweetened foods
pocmloc, Dec 27 2020

       There's a flaw. 10,000 sweetness peptide molecules might contain actual unintentional medical drugs, so you would have to feed like 20 mice 500 combined peptides each to make sure they showed no ill effects.
beanangel, Dec 27 2020


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