1793: Soda Sugar Comparisons

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Soda Sugar Comparisons
The key is portion control, which is why I've switched to eating smaller cans of frosting instead of full bottles.
Title text: The key is portion control, which is why I've switched to eating smaller cans of frosting instead of full bottles.


This comic is one of the rare incidences where the title is actually written at the top of the comic. It is also a rare example where an old comic, 1035: Cadbury Eggs, is directly referenced, and even at such a prominent place, albeit in a faded down gray font.

In the comic, Randall compares soda's sugar content to different types of sugary food (see trivia).

The first two panels compare the sugar content of a 20 oz bottle of soda (i.e. 591 mL, thus almost like a half liter bottle) to three Cadbury eggs or one Snickers bar if it had the length of the bottle (9 inches or about 23 cm; most actual Snickers bars are only 4 inches or 10 cm, though the company does manufacture various "king" sizes).

In the next row, Randall compares one bottle of soda each day of a week (seven bottles) to a bottle of cake frosting.

Continuing the estimations in the third row, Randall states that one soda a day for six months will provide the same amount of sugar as four gallons of Skittles (15.1 liters).

Finally, Randall compares three years' worth of daily sodas contains as much sugar as a convenience store's 20-foot (6.1 m) long candy counter.

The reference to Cadbury Eggs is of course the topic of the referenced comic 1035: Cadbury Eggs, which has the same comparison between soda's sugar content and Cadbury Eggs, as well as comparing a number of other substances to the eggs. So that comic goes the other way around.

In the title text, it is stated that the key is portion control, which sounds normal until it is revealed that the portion control is actually for frosting instead of soda. Eating frosting out of cans is also referenced in the title text of 418: Stove Ownership.

Of interest in this case is that the American Heart Association recommends less than 20-36 grams per day for a sedentary lifestyle (7.5 to 9 MJ per day).


Number of 20-oz bottles Equivalent sugar content (Coca-Cola) Candy portion Approximate sugar content
1 65 grams 3 (US) Crème Eggs
1 9-inch Snickers bar (approx. equivalent to roughly 2 standard Snickers bars)
60 grams
54 grams
7 455 grams 1 20-oz bottle frosting 360 grams (Betty Crocker decorating icing)
780 grams (Betty Crocker Fluffy White Frosting)
180 11,700 grams 4 gallons of Skittles 12,000 grams (assuming Skittles are molten/ground)
8,500 grams (assuming realistic ellipsoid packing)
1095 71,175 grams A 20-foot candy counter (the illustration shows four tiers of boxes) 125,000 grams (assuming 4 tiers of full boxes of Mars bars 10 inches wide)
62,500 grams (assuming 50% of shelf space is given over to gum and other non-edible products)


[Above the four rows of two panels with captions above them are the following title and note:]
Soda Sugar Comparisons
See also xkcd.com/1035
[Above the two columns of panels are the following captions for the left and right column:]
In terms of sugar, drinking this much soda...
...is equivalent to eating this:
[In the first rows left panel there is a drawing of a bottle with a screw cap and label. The content in the bottle is gray, as is the cap. The air above the liquid in the bottle beneath the cap as well as the label are light gray and the label is empty of text. The following text is written on three lines left of the bottle next to the label:]
One 20oz soda bottle (e.g. Coca Cola)
[In the opposite first row right panel there are two drawings. First three gray eggs are placed in a small pyramid. A thin line goes down the lang axis of the eggs. Text on two lines is below the eggs. Next to the eggs is a long gray bar standing up. It has wiggly lines for giving its surface features along its entire length. Two lines at the top and bottom are used to measured the length with two arrows pointing to either line, which are then going to the text next to the bar which are thus in between the arrows, taking up five lines.]
3 Cadbury eggs...
...Or a Snickers bar the length of the bottle.
[In the second rows left panel seven soda bottles are drawn like the one in the first panel (as are all later bottles). They are standing close to each other. Along the bottom of all the bottles is the following text:]
One soda per day for a week
[In the opposite second row right panel there is a drawing of a bottle with light gray content being poured out of the open bottle down in to a small pile next to the screw cap lying below the open bottle. The content is obviously not liquid but rather oozing frosting being dumped out of the bottle not ending up in a puddle but in a taller structure with jagged edges. A bit of the oozing material hangs far out of the bottle without dropping. Also the light gray content in the bottle is uneven with darker and brighter patches. Below and left of the screw cap and pile of goo there are two lines of text:]
One bottle of cake frosting
[In the thirds rows left panel a soda bottle is drawn next to two rows of three full month calendar pages, which takes up the same height as the bottle. A text below the pages takes up two lines.]||
One soda per day for six months
[In the opposite third row right panel there drawings of four large transparent plastic milk jugs filled to the brim with something that is a mixture between gray and white in small clumps. Two of the jugs are in front of the other two, and covers all but the top of the one between them and half of the last which extends right of the other two. Leaning up against the rightmost jug is a dark gray pack of candy with the candy name written in white on the open pack, and more unreadable white text is at the top of the pack. Next to the pack lies five candy pieces, three in front and two to the right. These candy pieces are dark gray (three) or light gray (two). There is a line of text beneath the jugs:]
Label: Skittles
Four gallons of Skittles
[In the fourth and final rows left panel one soda bottles is next to three rectangles on top of each other with a year given in each. Beneath the drawing there is a text over two lines:]
One soda per day for three years
[In the opposite fourth row right panel there is a drawings of a convenience store counter with three cashiers behind it at their cash register with payment terminal close by each of them as well. From left to right they are Ponytail, Cueball and Megan. the cash registers are to the left for all of them, with terminal next to it for Ponytail and on the other side for the other two. Between the two outer and the middle cashier, there are two signs on high poles with unreadable text. One is close to Ponytail the other is in the middle of the other two. Beside Cueball there is an additional flat thing which could be a candy weight. To Megan's right there is a square thing on top of which something sticks up in several layers. It could be a box of Kleenex. On four rows of shelves under the disc various items are closely stacked, so they cannot be separate from one another. It in though possible from white rows with prices to see that there are four rows. Underneath this drawing there is a text in two lines:]
A convenience store's entire 20-foot candy counter


  • Soda is a common term for carbonated sweet soft drink used predominantly by speakers in the Northeastern United States, California, and the areas surrounding Milwaukee and St. Louis
    • A similar term (Sodavand, meaning Soda water) is also used in Denmark.
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Attention: There came a new what if?, Hide the Atmosphere out two days ago (after almost 15 weeks since the last). --Kynde (talk) 21:50, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

And that's why I don't really drink soda. Cardboardmech (talk) 06:30, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

...sadly, coke zero costs as much as normal coke, despite one having 0% sugar, and thus, give the body zero energy. No financial incentive to switch. :D -- 10:52, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
The problem is that juice (like orange-juice) has not that much less sugar – and if you drink not pure juice, it can has more. --DaB. (talk) 15:16, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
That's why I drink diet coke. You stay slim and can find your children in the dark ;-) --Kynde (talk) 20:10, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Stellar work from Schroduck but can we get a better idea of the calories in a candy counter. We're looking at approx 3000 candy bars (a catering box holds 48 bars, is designed to be usable for display and about 2 bars wide) ballpark figures though so not adding the edit yet, but 3 tiers of boxes would be about right Luckykaa (talk) 09:26, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Thanks! I did a bit of digging, and updated the data. It looks like it significantly overestimates the sugar (if the display only holds chocolate/candy and not, say, sugar-free gum). Schroduck (talk) 11:56, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
Maybe this is an English term? But I would have thought that a candy counter was for regular candy to fill in bags for instance and not only Mars bar type of candy if any such chocolate bars would be there at all?--Kynde (talk) 20:10, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
Seeing as Randall refers to it as a "Convenience Store Counter", I understand it to mean a standard convenience store counter, LOL! Which would usually have one or two registers, depending on the size of the store. Which is to say, from the counter holding the registers down to the floor are boxes of every kind of chocolate bar they care to stock, plus gum and at times even said Creme Eggs. Bars such as Snickers, Mounds, Coffee Crisp, O Henry, Mr. Big, etc. etc. A counter this size would have to have every candy bar sold in North America, and some multiple times, in order to fill it. That said, it seems wrong to assume Mars bars. Not only do they have a more compact size - meaning more can fit - the only bar mentioned is Snickers, if any one bar is chosen it should be Snickers. - NiceGuy1 04:02, 3 February 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:03, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
This thing (though this one seems filled with gum): http://www.discountshelving.com/images/storetype/convenience/Gondola-Check-Out-Slanted-Shelves.jpg - NiceGuy1 04:06, 3 February 2017 (UTC) So's this! NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:03, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
The sugar content of candy doesn't massively vary from one brand to another. They are all essentially sugar (even Tic Tacs, which are advertised as "sugar free" are 95% sugar!), with starches and oils for texture, and trace amounts of flavouring and colour. I chose Mars bars because that was the first to come up on a search, but it wouldn't make much difference which you chose. Gums would be an exception, but then you're not meant to eat gum, so it surely shouldn't count for this purpose. Schroduck (talk) 15:02, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
You're right in that content is roughly equal from bar to bar, EXCEPT, as I stated, Mars bars are smaller than the average, both meaning that more would fit (especially in a counter this size) - meaning more boxes, meaning more sugar - and their smaller size means that they may ACTUALLY have a lower content - meaning slightly lower sugar, but at this volume it adds up. Now, as these two aspects affect the final result in opposite ways, they MAY cancel out, but that can't be certain without crunching the numbers (which I am not in the mood or availability to do right now, LOL! Thank you for your devotion). Just saying, if you pick ONE bar - which is reasonable considering how much it would complicate matters to virtually "build" a realistically varied counter - the one named, Snickers, should be the first choice. - NiceGuy1 05:18, 8 February 2017 (UTC) Also my comment! NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:03, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

One issue I have personally with these comparison are that it is easy to get huge numbers just by adding time. However, in this case, if you translate this into body fat it does make sense. Another tangent: Eating an orange is 9 grams of sugar according to google sources. 7 oranges per day is a lot of fruit. Throwing this out there for anyone to play with. 11:07, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

The page mentions "Crème eggs." While this is a common autocorrect, Cadbury don't use this on their packaging. Confusingly, this appears to be the case in the USA as well, even though Hershey on its website uses it. Can someone find a citation to confirm or deny that this this is ever the correct spelling? Also, don't drink soda. Really. -- 13:21, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

You're referring to the accent, right? Even if Cadbury doesn't use the accent on the packaging (they don't, you're right), "Crème" is the correct spelling. This is a french word - the English would be "Cream", of course - and the french spelling includes the accent. Which is what makes it a frequent autocorrect, people will often skip the accent due to the difficulty of entering it, having the autocorrect provide it can be actually useful. (LOTS of french where I live, I see stuff like this a lot, LOL!). - NiceGuy1 04:02, 3 February 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:03, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

I don't like how he compares the consumption of soda at a constant rate over a period of time to a grand total of candy. This could be reversed, e.g. eating 100ml of skittles a day for six months is the same as drinking 180 bottles of soda, to make it seem as though candy contains a lot of sugar in comparison to soda rather than vice versa. 14:10, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, it's a real problem that these comparisons don't dig at the core of the problem - that carbohydrate-rich food is often junk food. You can store lots of fat for a long time, but not carbohydrates (the human stores are maxed out at +/- 1200 g for an adult male). So, apart from athletes, nobody manages to deplete these stores in the liver and the muscles. Nobody, apart from athletes, has therefore a genuine need for carbohydrate-rich food. Our consumption of carbohydrates is like refilling a car's gasoline tank even if it is 90% full. 14:36, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
You forgot that the human body can convert sugar to fat quite easily. --DaB. (talk) 15:16, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
...which is not a reason for sugar consumption. -- 16:07, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
"Reason for sugar consumption" is like needing a motive for a sexually-based crime. 18:21, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
So you are saying that you do not need a motive before committing a sex crime! ;-p --Kynde (talk) 20:04, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
awaits increase in sex crimes Cardboardmech (talk) 04:26, 3 February 2017 (UTC)

I never would have thought of it like that. xD --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 18:50, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

I know they don't sell Skittles in gallon-sized containers (as far as I know, anyway), but seeing that picture makes me want to try the gallon-Skittle challenge. I bet it would take about five minutes... Who's with me? Mathmannix (talk) 19:09, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

I'd bet you couldn't do it in five. Cardboardmech (talk) 04:26, 3 February 2017 (UTC)

That box at the right end of the candy counter probably contains waxed paper or bags for loose candy. The Dining Logician (talk) 21:05, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

I have NEVER seen a convenience store provide wax paper or candy bags, partially because I've never seen one sell loose candy, LOL! Only pre-packaged / wrapped chocolate bars, like the named Snickers or Mars bars. i've only seen such things in the rare candy store I've been in. - NiceGuy1 04:02, 3 February 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:03, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
Not all sugars are created equal nor do they have the same effect on the body. Are we talking about sucrose, high corn fructose syrup or something else? The number of calories may be the same, but the body can dispose of glucose much more effectively than fructose. -- No'am
This turns out not to be the case. Your body contains enzymes which very efficiently convert fructose into glucose. Sucrose, in your gut, is cleaved into a glucose and a fructose, and then the fructose further converted into glucose as well. Fructose can cause a "rumbly tummy" (for the FODMAP-sensitive) because before it gets absorbed, gut bacteria may consume it and do wacky stuff, but in your bloodstream it's all just glucose rather quickly. Nitpicking (talk) 12:40, 22 November 2022 (UTC)

Is this the first time an XKCD comic directly referenced another comic URL in the text itself? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)