A recent study in the news is suggesting a link between artificial sweeteners and weight gain. Not surprising - and of course there are other studies showing little or no correlation. Jury's still out. But this particular article includes a comprehensive history of artificial sweetners; how they were invented, and accepted by consumers to varying degrees.

1879: First artificial sweetener, saccharin

Russian chemist Constantin Fahlberg was eating dinner when he made an amazing discovery: The roll hed just bitten into tasted extremely sweet. Realizing the sugary, metallic taste had come from his own hands, he rushed back to the lab to find the source. After tasting everything in sight not exactly good lab safety protocol he discovered the sweetness came from an accidental chemical reaction between coal tar derivatives, producing benzoic sulfinide.
After reading the bit about a Russian chemist tasting various items in his lab, I had to read the rest - and it's worth the read IMO.

Read it all here.