Stephan Eirik Clark's debut novel, Sweetness #9, is about a flavor chemist who develops an artificial sweetener that causes anxiety, rage, obesity and depression. Clark tells Terry Gross that the book Fast Food Nation inspired him to set his story in the food industry:
"Flavorings were like gravity or electricity — something that was all around me, but that I had never paid any attention to, and as soon as I read that book and its chapter on food product design, I started to ask myself, ‘How important are these to the foods?’ I started to question if I was really eating food or just the idea of food. With these molecules, you can make something taste like grass or roasted chicken and what is it covering up? What is it supporting? What is it enhancing? All of these questions and philosophical ideas that sprang out of this simple industry just went off — and I found myself deep into a novel."