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Chocolate syrup review

Posted Oct 18 2008 2:34pm
We had a heck of a time finding a chocolate syrup that doesn't have HFCS in it. We use it in chocolate milk, which is about the only way I can get my 4 yr old to drink milk these days, and to give my almost 2 yr old her vitamins. But then one day a HFCS-free chocolate syrup magically appeared at our local health food store.

So, we've been using Ah!Laska brand chocolate syrup. Take a look at it's ingredient list:

Organic evaporated cane juice, water, organic cocoa (non-alkaline), xanthan gum (a natural fiber thickener), organic vanilla, citric acid

Pretty innocuous. It's thicker than regular Hershey's syrup and has an odd slight-metallic aftertaste. I don't know what the aftertaste is all about, but my husband and I both experience it. Maybe it's because the cocoa is non-alkaline (I'm pretty sure Hershey's syrup uses Dutch cocoa, which is alkaline treated)? If someone knows, fill me in! It does a fine job making chocolate milk, though, and I find that chocolate is chocolate with Emma.

We do have another option at our fingertips - one that a friend alerted me to. It seems that Hershey's Sugar Free Syrup is also HFCS free. But take a look at it's ingredient list:

water, erythritol, glycerin, cocoa, natural flavors, citric acid, xanthan gum, salt, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, caramel color, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, vanillin, artificial flavor, zinc sulfate vitamin e acetate, niacinamide and biotin

A little more confusing, no? I had to look up what erythritol was. In case you're curious as I was, it's a plant derived sugar alcohol that is 70% as sweet as table sugar and has no calories. Sugar alcohols are sometimes used in sugar-free products for sweetness because our bodies don't process them the same way that they do sugars. They don't cause tooth decay (xylitol, another commonly used sugar alcohol, actually inhibits tooth decay), and they don't really impact blood sugar levels. One problem with sugar alcohols is that because they aren't completely absorbed by our bodies, they can ferment in the intestines and cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Lovely. Erythritol is a smaller sugar alcohol than most of the commonly used sugar alcohols and doesn't cause as many intestinal problems as the others, but consuming too much can still lead to these unpleasant side effects.

Glycerin was another unexpected ingredient - mainly because it was the third ingredient. Glycerin is a common candy ingredient as it helps with moisture retention and is also a sweetener, but I don't recall seeing it used in such amounts in a food product before.

Between the erythritol, glycerin, and all of the preservatives, artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, aka Splenda, is also in there), and artificial flavors, we've decided to stick with the Ah!Laska syrup despite the metallic aftertaste. It's not a home run, but it's good enough.
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