Sugar cane is one of the oldest cultivated crops known to man. As far back as prehistoric times it was refined in eastern Asia. Cane sugar was unknown in Europe until the Middle Ages. Then for a long time it was a luxury available only to the upper classes.
It was only when the more affordable beet sugar was discovered in the 18th century that sugar featured in the diet of a large section of the population. With the ever increasing instances of damage to health, such as caries and diabetes - plus the problem of obesity - it became clear that the consumption of refined sugar was associated with various health risks. Science sought a solution to this problem and found it in the form of sweeteners.
1879 The German research chemist Constantin Fahlberg discovered the first calorie-free sweetener and called it Saccharin. It was sold by pharmaceutical companies as tablets and in powder form without any brand name. It gained great popularity as "poor man's sugar", which reached its peak during the Second World War when sugar became scarce and more expensive.
1904 The Hermes company was founded as a commercial enterprise and, among other things, was involved in the marketing of unbranded Saccharin as tablets or in powder form.
1932 Hermes brought the first branded sweetener onto the market under the name Hermesetas.
1937 Two American research chemists, Audrieth and Sveda, discovered another sweetener and called it Cyclamate. This sweetener was subjected to scientific investigations for many years and in the mid-fifties was declared risk free.
1954 Hermes launched this sweetener under the new brand name Assugrin.
1965 The Hermes research laboratories came up with a particularly good taste by blending Saccharin and Cyclamate. In 1965 Hermes brought this blend onto the market, and it was widely endorsed, especially in central and southern parts of Europe.
1965 American research chemists discovered the sweetener Aspartame. It is made up of two naturally occurring amino acids and tastes remarkably similar to sugar. A completely new type of sweetener had been discovered. After Aspartame had also undergone rigorous testing, Hermes launched it under the brand name Assugrin Gold.
1967 German researchers discovered Acesulfame-K, another calorie-free, organic compound, which is used mainly in table-top sweeteners to enhance the flavour. In blind trials, blends of Aspartame and Acesulfame-K are often rated as the best sweetener.
1988 Hermes brought this blend onto the market under the name Hermesetas Gold. In taste tests, Hermesetas Gold repeatedly comes out top.