Law enforcement sources said that a wealthy, 89-year-old artificial sweetener magnate who gave Sweet’N Low a household name, committed suicide by jumping from his Park Avenue apartment building.
Donald Taber, CEO and co-owner of New York-based 1,400-employee Sugar Foods, traced his death just after 5 a.m. Friday, and was found in the courtyard of the luxury Upper East Side building between 65th and 66th streets, sources said said
He said that he was struggling with Parkinson’s disease.
At the helm of Sugar Foods, Taber transformed the company’s flagship product, Sweet’N Low, and its ubiquitous little pink packets into a mainstay at kitchen counters and restaurant tables around the country, as well as N ‘in Raw and Shui. Joy nondairy creamer.
“Basically, we are concerned with everything that surrounds the coffee cup,” Taber told Restaurant News in 1995. “We’re tightly focused.”
By the mid-’90s, some 80 percent of food establishments used Sweet’N Low; Restaurant News reported that Sweetener has commanded a market with more than 80 percent sugar substitutes.
“Donald IS Sweet’n Low”, president of Sugar Foods, Steve Odell told the magazine.
“Don had as much in the making of Sweet’N Low as a household name as anyone had with any product. Every packet of Sweet’N Low sold today can be detected on a single sales call that he probably made or was at least a part of. “
Odell told The Post that he was Taber’s business partner for 51 years.
“He was larger than life,” Odell said. He said, “He made everyone feel special. He is an icon and he will always be.”
Odell said that Taber was fighting a “devastating” disease, “especially for someone as active as he was”.
Nevertheless, suicide was a setback.
“I talked to him yesterday and certainly not. There was no sign.
A grad at Harvard Law School, Taber was a former president at the Culinary Institute of America and the founder of City Meal-on-Wheels.
He was the husband of Barbara Robert, who served as editor-in-chief of Brides magazine for three decades and was a former board of trustees at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan. The couple lived on the 11th floor of the building.
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While it ceased distribution of Sweet’n fifteen years ago, Tober’s company currently manufactures a range of sweeteners and other products for the supermarket and foodservice industries under the N’Joy and Blue Diamond lines.
“That was so much more than just a product,” Odell said. “One thousand people use our products each other.”
He said, “Donald left us with eight words, and we live them every day. The first two words are ‘be prepared.’ The second is ‘show up’. The third two words are ‘on time.’ And the last two are ‘follow through.’
“He did this every day, all day, through his career.”
Additional reporting by Amanda Woods