Sweet and Low

A Family Story

Rich Cohen; Read by Rich Cohen

Macmillan Audio

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Sweet and Low is the amazing, bittersweet, hilarious story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family.
It is also the story of immigrants to the New World, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents accumulated in the long and sometimes corrupt life of the factor, and conducting interviews with members of his extended family. Along the way, the forty-year family battle over the fortune moves into its titanic phase, with the money and legacy up for grabs. Sweet and Low is the story of this struggle, a strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, and of an extraordinary family and its fight for the American dream.

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Sweet and Low
PART ONE1.Cumberland Packing, the company that manufactures Sweet'N Low, occupies a boxy building across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It sits amid the factories of Fort Greene, the last of the city's vanishing industrial base. The neighborhood is ringed by housing projects, dark windows looking out on the long skies over Williamsburg,.In the summer of 2003, I drove to the factory to talk to my uncle Marvin, the president of the company. I had not seen much of him since my grandmother died. I gave my name at the door and was told to go around the side of the building,

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The author reads at Google NYC on June 20th, 2007.

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Sweet and Low by Rich Cohen--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt from and hear Rich Cohen read from his book Sweet and Low, the bittersweet, hilarious story of Ben Eisenstadt, who invented sugar packets and Sweet'N Low, and amassed the great fortune that would later destroy his family. It is a story of immigrants, Jewish gangsters, and Brooklyn; of sugar, saccharine, obesity, and diet crazes; of jealousy, betrayal, and ambition.

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Praise for Sweet and Low

"A small classic of familial triumph, travail and strife, and a telling--and often hilarious--parable about the pursuit and costs of the American dream . . . recounted with uncommon acuity and wit."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"How decadent to indulge in Rich Cohen's rollicking account of his family and the business it built. . . . Cohen has a terrific eye for detail, the little things that affix people and places in our memories, the gestures and miscues that shape family history. . . . It's a guilty pleasure--sort of like sugar without calories."--The New York Times Book Review
"A wildly addictive, high-octane narrative. Cohen sashays with boisterous panache from the history of the sugar trade to grandmother Betty's brooch. . . . He moves from journalistic objectivity to the intensely personal with ease, enjoying the kind of access that historians almost never get."--The Washington Post
"It is Cohen's good fortune to be on the side of the family that was disinherited. Sweet revenge is the energy behind this glorious book."--Time
"Cohen tells a fascinating story about family bonds in his quest to discover why his mother was cast out. His skewering of his relatives is merciless. . . . Plenty of writers have dissected their less-than-perfect families.Dealing with the issue with this much heart, though--that's extraordinary."--People
"This book is an absolute pleasure: expansive, fascinating, funny and full of historical tidbits to read aloud to anyone around."--Salon.com
"Never less than fascinating . . . Sweet and Low might as well be a Balzacian nineteenth-century novel complete with a crisis, a contested will, and a tragic resolution."--Los Angeles Times
"Unfailingly entertaining . . . Echoes the cadences of such literary antecedents as Saul Bellow."--The Wall Street Journal
"Cohen writes entertainingly, lining up characters like objects in a curio cabinet. . . . He is an unusually nimble writer, capable of casually broaching grander themes. By balancing his more ambitious material with Eisenstadt family lore, and moving the drama away from the money he'll never see, he makes the story of Sweet'N Low something more than just a pleasant taste that lingers in the mouth."--The New York Observer
"Cohen is one talented storyteller, and Sweet and Low is a great read. . . . Cohen also offers good servings of history on related topics--the sugar trade, the diet craze, the migration of Jews to New York--much of which provides a helpful backdrop to the story. At the heart of this tale is his family, a cast of characters who, owing to Cohen's gifts as a writer, are neither lionized nor demonized."--Library Journal

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About the Author

Rich Cohen; Read by Rich Cohen

Rich Cohen is the author of Tough Jews, The Avengers, and Machers and Rockers, and the memoir Lake Effect. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, among many other publications, and he is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. He lives in New York City.

Rich Cohen

© Jeremy Medoff
Rich Cohen


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Available Formats and Book Details

Sweet and Low
A Family Story
Rich Cohen; Read by Rich Cohen

Abridged Digital Audio

Abridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
April 2006
Abridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781593978907
ISBN10: 1593978901
Audio Run Time: 7:00

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
March 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312426019
ISBN10: 0312426011
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages, Includes 25 black-and-white illustrations

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
March 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466806849
ISBN10: 1466806842
288 pages, Includes 25 black-and-white illustrations throughout

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