What does Sugar mean?

System of a Down: Sugar Meaning

Tagged: Drugs [suggest]
Album cover for Sugar album cover

Song Released: 1998

Sugar Lyrics

The kombucha mushroom people,
Sitting around all day,
Who can believe you,
Who can believe you,
Let your mother pray, (sugar)

I’m not there all the time you know
Some people, some people, some people,
Call it insane, yeah they...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 19th 2009 !⃝

    I think the title 'sugar' has many meanings. In the begging of the music video the news reporter talks about how the media sugar coats what the viewer is seeing to keep their ratings up (quote: "Im in a ratings system here, and the key factor is 'sensationalism'"). Sensationalism is anything that keeps the veiwer interested, therefore the media covers up certain things like death and the true brutality of the world. As for the kambachu mushroom people, the kambachu mushroom is a bacteria that sits in a jar for long periods of time doing nothing (quote: "kambachu mushroom people sitting around all day"). The mushroom people sit and listen to the news and interpret the world that way. For example, back after world war one when Hitler first began to take control in Germany, he promised the people a better life and blamed all of their problems on Jewish people through propaganda causing the Holocaust.

    One thing that is 'sugar' coated is the media's output on the common chemical aspartine, which is found in most diet sodas and sacrificially sweetened substances. I believe aspartame has been known to cause sever brain damage, dementia, strokes, and tumors. If you take a stainless steel tub and fill it with pure hydrochloric acid (rocket fuel, not the stuff in your cabnit) nothing will happen for a long time, however a concentrated solution of artificial sweetner would eat through the steel rapidly. The federal government has knowlege of this and yet we still see commercials for diet pop that hide its true dangers. I mean, you never see someone die of a stroke in a diet pepsie advertisement do you?

    The way I see it, SOAD is trying to get a point across to do your own research on things and just because you see it on t.v. doesn't mean its the truth. More often than not medications on t.v. Have more serious risks than benefits, but they depict them as being amazing cures. This is what I think the song is about.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 21st 2008 !⃝

    Did you see the music video?? In the very beginning it talks about all the lies being told to us by the news, how its all lies and how we believe it easily. And for the title it may mean that they're sugar-coating what really is the truth. Mushroom people most likely the news anchors/government.??


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 16th 2006 !⃝

    It has nothing to do with drug addiction most of the posts are wrong the few who mentioned aspartame are correct, aspartame is found in sweeteners found in sugar free foods such as diet cola and most chewing gum these days. The russian roulete part is saying everyday we play russian roulette when we eat, comsume apartame, it causes brain damage and other things (read back people mentioned them) and the kicking his girl and I've killed everyone is about him going crazy from aspartame and killing everyone, finally, this song is telling you to eat sugar, not sugar free foods, hence the line "more sugaaarr!!!!"

  4. anonymous
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    Dec 31st 2022 !⃝

    This song (not including the music video) to me is like another Alice in Wonderland but more hallucinating. There's no way you can see alive kombucha. "Who can believe you?" means nobody believes you went to Wonderland.

  5. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2020 !⃝

    It's about the government wanting to dumb us down so we don't question anything they do. "The kombucha mushroom people sitting around all day" are complacent consumers who are passive and don't cause too much trouble in the political arena. Aspartame is one of the means of accomplishing this since it kills brain cells among many other things, literally dumbing you down. He uses lyrics that suggests a narrator who is going insane, probably from things like aspartame.

  6. anonymous
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    Dec 3rd 2018 !⃝

    The song may have something to do with Gulf War Syndrome. One theory for the cause of the effects and behaviors related to this syndrome was that sodas heated past a certain temperature for prolonged periods produced a dangerous chemical. Sodas stored in the desert during the first Gulf War were often heated to more than 100 degrees for prolonged periods, then consumed by the troops.

    Some of the side effects of this syndrome are portrayed in the song and video.

  7. anonymous
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    Aug 27th 2018 !⃝

    He is trying to tell people about these crazy mushroom people who sit around all day who can believe him? Let his mother pray! He is getting guns other stuff continues rambling on about the mushrooms then goes on a killing spree and wonders what he has to do and how he has to feel about killing everyone.

  8. anonymous
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    Aug 8th 2018 !⃝

    Sakko was an Italian terrorist in the 1930’s from the Anarchist terroist organization. They wanted to bring down all big business and government so maybe...

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
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    May 14th 2016 !⃝

    I believe that this song has to do with PTSD which is Post Dramatic Stress Disorder which is mostly found in people who were at some point in the army and in the video you see soilders marching. And this song is about a person who returns from the war changed and deranged. When the songs say the Kombuncha mushroom people it is describing how he just sits there like a kombucha mushroom. Then he buys a gun from sako that he can easily disguise in his pocket this come in later in the song. And when it says my lashes out at me and I just fucking kick her shows how violent he is . And when it says you know everytime I try to go where I really want be its all ready where I am cause I'm already there is describing how he wants to be in war and he believes he's already there in war when he's just in normal day life. Now thegun comes into play when he says I sit in my desolate room no lights no music just havoc killed everyone now I'm looked away for every but I'm feeling better describs how he committed a mass shooting killing everyone and is now locked away for every in his desolate room and when the songs the put my face on the ground and try to suck out my motherfuking brains is describing how the police tackle him and arrest him after shooting all those people. But he's felling better because he feels he killed the enemies in the war

  10. Josh2000
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    May 5th 2016 !⃝

    This song has to be about society once again. But, Serj says "Sugar" meaning to me that since society thinks people are this and that, people tend to follow what society thinks. "Sugar" referring to society makes me think that since "sugar" as in sweets can sometimes be bad for you. Like sugar, society can sometimes be bad for you.

  11. anonymous
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    Feb 29th 2016 !⃝

    I agree with many of the posts on this site, and after watching the video I think the message might be that, essentially, the things people are being fed is what is killing them and contributing to the downfall of society by the spreading ignorance and misinformation.
    In the beginning of the video there's a news show host saying he wishes he could bring the viewer(you) more important information but he cannot because he works for the system. This shows how 'the system' so to speak, is keeping people ignorant by distracting them with more trivial matters.
    The opening lines in the Lyrics begin with the Kombucha mushroom people. A quick Google search informed me that there was a crisis wherein kombucha mushrooms were used in a form of tea which caused health problems. While it was supposed to be healthy, it wasn't entirely.
    "Who would believe you?" Most likely refers to the people who would not for a second believe that corporations would knowingly poison people slowly for money. I'd like to once again, refer to the news anchor in the beginning of the video who screams that he tells the viewer what 'they' want [you] to hear. So, basically they become trusting, believing that the government wouldn't allow big business to fill the grocery store shelves with products slowly killing them. FDA Approved and all,like they didn't used to promote cigarettes by saying they were good for you. Which explains the 'who would believe you' part. Who would believe a crazy conspiracy theorist nut about ? Lolol illuminati rite??!!1
    Flash to the 'Aspartame kills' part. I found it ironic that people on this board were split between whether or not it was actually harmful or not. One person said it was proven to be harmless while Aspartame has also been proven to be detrimental to health and can be linked serious problems (tumors, aggression, etc). This reinforces the fact that misinformation runs rampant in society which SOAD calls out. Unintentional or not, the fact that the message flashes backwards is a good symbol for that. After all, if nobody wants to buy aspartame anymore, people who manufacture it and put it in their brand name products will suffer. It is acceptable in the United States for it to be put into products that anyone can buy. 'Russian Roulette with life' = Things one consumes, and takes in until they die. What is safe if Tea and Soda (a product that commonly contains aspartame) both become equally bad?
    The fact that aspartame is a substitute for sugar and the fact that they continuously repeat 'Sugar' throughout the song might be a way to imply that 'the system' feeds people fakeness fake news, fake foods, fake information fake everything.
    I got stuck with what Sako, and hitting the girlfriend could mean. There's a person in SOAD named Sako but I think they're most likely referring to the Italian Gun Company? In the video they show an old lady pulling it out. It could be a jab at the gun companies when people say that anyone can own a gun in the U.S. these days. I think this part of the song is how the media contribute to violence in society. Not to excuse horrible people for their horrible actions but because gun companies are big corporations like the one's who sell harmful food items, many people 'at the top' or have 'the system' on their payroll so to speak are quick to point fingers at anything but their own products. Mental illness ("some people call it insane"), life at home, etc. instead of just admitting there are crappy people in the world who can easily access their products. They blame other factors, despite it being ableist and classist etc, instead of owning up and admitting they're contributing to the horrors happening in the world by enabling violent perpetrators and then distracting the victims with other and at times unrelated factors.
    Overall, I think the song criticizes The Government and media's tendency to spread misinformation and distractions favoring wealthy corporations while throwing everyone else under the bus for their benefit. They do this by making it analogous with Sugar, or rather Aspartame. Fake sugar, like the empty products and biased information people are sold on the daily.

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 12th 2014 !⃝

    I don't see this song as literally being about aspartame but rather aspartame as a metaphor for being fed "artificially sweetened" information by the media but then that doesn't explain the violence and anger in the song really so it really could be either way or some of both. Either way great song

  13. anonymous
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    Dec 16th 2012 !⃝

    Sugar is an allegory for sensationalism. The clip at the beginning of the video isn't there by chance. Both the song and the video suggest that "sugar" turns you batshit crazy as if it were a drug. People eat up reality tv shows and dramatic news stories regardless of their value or validity. The "aspartame kills" flash in the video probably reinforces the idea that this sugar is fake, as aspartame is an artificial sweetener. This is ironic because aspartame has been proven to be harmless, but was the center of a massive media scare in the 90s. Hell, half the people on this page still seem to think it causes cancer. System is telling you to open your eyes.

  14. anonymous
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    Jul 11th 2012 !⃝

    I believe that SOAD is laughing at all of you because the song has no meaning and they wrote it when they were high.

  15. anonymous
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    Jun 25th 2012 !⃝

    As a lot of people say it does have to do with aspartame. Aspartame is a well known carcinogen, it literally destroys cells. It can cause severe depression, aggression, and anxiety. The government and corporations know this. SOAD are very liberal, they know that corporations and the government are aware of this. The point of this song is that corporations use aspartame and other artificial and genetically altered sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup to make their products. These altered/artificial sweeteners cost more then sugar, thus is cheaper to make their products. These companies do not care about health concerns as long as they have capital gain. That is the true meaning though some people are right in a sense, but their point is these companies are knowingly feeding us poison. As for kombucha mushroom people, they are talking about those health nuts who think they are drinking/eating healthy with their "Fat free" and "Sugar Free" beverages and food, when in fact they are eating worse than they really know. Kombucha is a tea-culture drank in Asian cultures. It is thought to healthy but has no proof of being healthy in fact it has been known to be toxic. Therefore explaining the "healthy" people being kombucha mushroom people.

  16. anonymous
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    May 23rd 2012 !⃝

    I think another main theme to this song is about people always taking the easier way out and never eliminating their problems but just putting off until later. When someone says something isn't right no one WANTS to believe him. All we have left to do is let our mothwers pray. When the problem finally catches up with you and puts you in a corner you ask "how do i feel, what do I say" and what do I do now?! we use violence as refuge to make our problems "fuck off and go away" until next time.

  17. thehiltonater
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    Apr 1st 2012 !⃝

    Okay, so I have been looking for the explanation for the song for a long time, but just recently watched the music video. If you haven't seen it, you really should. It explains pretty well everything, with a little help from you.

    In the song, Serj begins with, "The kumbucha mushroom people, sitting around all day!" As a kumbucha maker, I can tell you that,(one) Kumbucha is a mushroom, mushrooms are edible bacteria, and (two), I believe that he is referencing people who recognize the risk with eating deadly food, specifically aspartame. Why aspartame, you might wondering? In the video, twice across the screen the words "aspartame kills" flash backwards. For those of you who don't know, aspartame is a, artificial sweetener that has been shown to cause brain tumors, holes in your brain (WTF right?) and general insanity. In the song he talks about beating his girlfriend and killing everyone. So, he likely is slowly falling into madness, and is becoming more and more violent.
    When he talks about "playing russian roulette everday...with a bullet called life", I believe that he is talking about how he is playing the odds by ingesting aspartame despite knowing the risks.
    In the video, it also shows him being interrogated by the police during the, "I sit. In my desolate room. no lights. No music." part of the song. My theory is that he killed a lot of people with that cute little gun he got from Sako, and is now locked away forever. He has to live with the insanity eating at him, leading him to not know whether or not he is actually there (go listen to One by Metallica, many similarities).
    In the end, the song is not about drugs, nuclear bomb victims, the media, or society in general. It is a song about the slow descent into insanity and mayhem that aspartame can lead to, and why it is important to give a flying fuck.

    Disagree? Then start up a fight, let's see where this will lead.

  18. anonymous
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    Mar 7th 2012 !⃝

    Ok there are some great connections made on here so I just wanted to add my own connection. When Serj says 'the Kombucha Mushroom people sitting around all day, who can believe you, let your mother pray', I think hes referring to organic and health enthusiast people who try to reveal the dangers of chemical toxins in food supply and get ridiculed by the public who will label them 'conspiracy theorists' or 'paranoid.'

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