Sugar is the Mormon alcohol

6 Apr

icecreamLet’s talk about sugar. Sugarsugarsugarsugar: that thrilling chemical compound that is pulsing through my veins RIGHT NOW because I just made, and consumed embarrassing amounts of, cinnamon roll cake.

Why did I make cinnamon roll cake on this particular Saturday, you may ask? Well, this weekend is the 184th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s a weekend when we get to listen to the prophet, apostles, and general officers of the Church provide divinely inspired guidance for each of our lives, which I consider a great blessing and privilege. It’s also a weekend where we get to watch church from home and stay in jammies as long as we please (the VW clan calls it “jammie church”). And it invariably involves cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.

This close connection between conference and cinnamon rolls is yet another dollop to add to the overflowing mixing bowl of evidence supporting a conclusion I have reached: Sugar is the Mormon alcohol.*

I’ve never felt like I’m missing anything by not drinking alcohol. I was fortunate to have friends in high school who didn’t drink; I went to stone-cold sober BYU as an undergrad; and as an adult I’ve been fortunate to have friends who are gracious party guests and hosts who don’t mind that Dave and I simply drink water and only serve the likes of milk and root beer.

Now, allow me to explain the sugar = alcohol equation:

1. We use sugar to meet new people.

gatsby-toastMy husband and I recently introduced ourselves to one of our neighbors. He threw out, “We’ll have to have you guys over for drinks sometime!”

We thanked him for his kind offer and continued chatting, but didn’t bother to bring up yet that we don’t drink. We simply mentioned that we were also planning to invite a couple neighbors over. What we didn’t mention was that our idea of a rockin’ party was an ice cream social.

Fortunately, I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed by an ice cream social. When my family moved to a new town when I was in high school, my parents invited the new neighbors over for an ice cream social and it was a hit, even with the too-cool-for-school teen demographic.

2. We use sugar to woo.

lizlemon-datingAny LDS young single adult knows that fro-yo is a staple of the dating diet. The authors of this recent New York Times article about Mormon women astutely picked up on this:

Goofy icebreakers are customary even for cosmopolitan Mormons like Ms. Sagers, 23, who was then applying to a bioscience doctoral program at Harvard. It was a Saturday “date night” in her singles ward, the church’s answer to bars and nightclubs. At the age of 18, Mormons typically join a ward, or singles congregation, where those of marrying age gather for worship and social events. Without alcohol or coffee to lubricate the socializing (both are prohibited by the church’s Word of Wisdom), there are bowling outings, pie-eating contests, ballroom dancing lessons and, in traditional Mormon fashion, lots and lots of sweets.

And if a NYT citation isn’t secular enough proof for you, Jezebel pinpointed “sugary desserts” as the “intoxicant of choice” for the so-called “Provo Bro.”

3. We use sugar to celebrate.

troy gifObviously, everyone does this (birthday cakes! wedding cakes!), but Mormons tend to find a way to commemorate the most mundane occasions with sweet treats (like those cinnamon rolls and jammie church). Rare is the flier promoting a church event that does not advertise, “Light refreshments will be served.” Read: Come! We will have brownies and/or chocolate chip cookies!

4. We use sugar to drown our sorrows–and to help others’ sorrows.

wine-under-deskOK, this is universal, particularly among those who have recently been dumped/fired/otherwise disappointed by life. Life gets you down, you get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, am I right?

But I like to think we also use sugar to reach out. In the LDS Church (and for many other kindhearted people) it is important to follow Christ’s example to leave the ninety and nine and reach out to the one who is lost. Sometimes it’s clear what kind of physical, spiritual, or emotional help someone needs, but when you’ve exhausted all your options for serving someone, the go-to solution is delivering a plate of cookies, baked with love.

5. We use sugar to unwind.

giphy-wineThis revelation came to me after my husband and I had a hard day tending to a fussier-than-usual baby. When the magical hour of bedtime rolled around, our first move was to grab some ice cream (to enjoy along with some Parks & Rec, of course). As Dave grabbed the spoons and the pint of cookie dough, he stopped. “Wait… Is ice cream our wine?”

And in that moment, I understood all of my wine-sipping friends.

P.S.–Wondering why?

The heightened appeal of sugar for Mormons is clear: It functions as a social lubricant without lowering inhibitions (and thus spiritual fortitude). It doesn’t violate the Word of Wisdom, which is the Lord’s law of health that prohibits strong drinks (alcohol, coffee, and tea) and tobacco. Plus, there is no such thing as an ice cream hangover (I would be doomed). There also happens to be a historical connection between early Mormons and sugar production–perhaps the root of the Mormon sweet tooth.

Anyway, research suggests that sugar can have toxic effects on our health. And although the Word of Wisdom doesn’t mention sugar, it does counsel us to eat healthfully, so we would be wise to approach sugar with moderation.

In that spirit, I will try very, very hard to have only moderate amounts of decadent cinnamon roll cake as I sit in my pajamas watching General Conference. Bon appétit.


We also use sugar to teach moral lessons:

mormonad-great-except-forImages via here, this crazy article about Leo’s toasts, here, here, here, here, and here. Post updated 8/28/14 to  add #5 and a few images and shorten the intro.

* Here I refer primarily to Mormons living in the U.S., because although doctrine is consistent throughout this worldwide church, culture and diets certainly vary.


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