Monday, November 21, 2005

Best Intentions: Sun Drops

Name: Sun Drops - Plain Milk & Peanut
Brand: Sun Spire
Place Purchased: Wild Oats
Price: $.79 (on sale)
Size: 1.19 ounces
Calories per ounce: 151
Type: Chocolate/Peanuts

image

Here’s a perfectly good idea gone awry. There’s no reason there can’t be good, tasty, “natural” chocolate candies (I think that’s been proven more recently with things like Equal Exchange, Green & Black, Newman’s Own, etc.). This is an example of a weak candy line. Here’s why: First, the colors are dull and unappealing. They’re not colors that I want to eat (except for the yellow, they look like old-lady lipstick colors). They’re not strong or clean, they’re muddy looking and uneven. A grainy looking outside does not bode well for the inside.

The ingredients are basically sugar (natural with unsulfured molasses, blah, blah) then milk powder, then the chocolate ... that’s a long way down the list. And it shows in the final product. The addition of molasses is a little odd. It gives the whole thing a rather toasty burnt flavor, which I enjoy with my oatmeal but not in my chocolate. In fact, I can taste everything in these drops except for the chocolate. The powdered milk, overly sweet sugar and slightly grainy chocolate just combine for a depressing treat. The crunchy shell is too tough and again adds sweet without flavor and further distances me from any chocolately goodness. If it’s possible, the peanut ones tasted more like burnt sugar and milk powder.

With the same number of calories and fat as M&Ms, why am I eating these? I gave them to Amy to try and after much cajoling (because the package, colors and list of ingredients scared her off - and she was the one that wanted to go to Wild Oats on Saturday!) she did put one in her mouth. She chewed a couple of times and then spit it out in my trash can.

If you are a parent trying to find a wholesome treat for the kids, this isn’t it. It sets them up for a lifetime of disappointments, now that’s spoiling them. Just let them have some M&Ms in moderation (the Almond ones are actually not bad for you since the bulk of the candy is actually a very healthy nut). Or just let them have plain old semi-sweet chocolate chips. Dark chocolate really isn’t that bad as a food. Raisinettes? Really, anything but this. Don’t tease the poor kids by telling them this is candy.

Rating: 2 out of 10

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:39 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewSunspireChocolatePeanuts2-AppallingUnited States

Comments
  1. SunDrops are the worst! I was in Whole Foods the other day and I actually talked a stranger into putting them back. And to think, Whole Foods sells 5 Star Bars along side these waxy, nasty “candies”!

    Comment by Natty on 11/21/05 at 11:26 am #
  2. I like the new rating system. “Appalling” tells me what I need to know.

    This sounds like so many of those “eat them, they’re good for you” things that are more a punishment than anything else.

    I think I’ll enjoy some M&Ms; to wash the review out of my mouth.

    Thank you so much for letting me know!

    Comment by Russ on 11/21/05 at 3:42 pm #
  3. I’ve had these before and I didn’t think they were that bad.  Then again, it was at a time when I wasn’t eating much chocolate.  Or any at all?  God forbid.

    And now all I like to eat are full size chocolate bars!

    Comment by Robyn on 11/21/05 at 8:50 pm #
  4. Sun Drops may not be God of Candy World, but they’re still damn good.

    First, unless you’re a toddler and can’t help but put unnaturally bright things in your mouth, you’ll find that Sun Drops are a pleasing *natural* color. That’s because they’re not made with cancer-causing dies.

    Second, Sun Drops are not M&Ms;. On the candy family tree, they’re much closer to Sixlets than M&Ms;. So they’re more fruity than chocolate, which I happen to like.

    Thirdly, Sun Drops are God-awful expensive. If at all possible, buy them bulk (at Wild Oats if you’re in Portland).

    Comment by jason maurer on 1/03/06 at 5:30 pm #
  5. I feel sorry for Amy.  She’s always spitting things out.

    Comment by Sophia on 11/08/06 at 2:22 pm #
  6. I really don’t mind the peanut Sun Drops, personally, as natural/organic is the only choice for our family due to my eldest son’s medical condition.

    But if you’re looking for a really yummy natural treat, try Woodstock Farms milk chocolate malt balls.  The chocolate is real and I think quite tasty.  The centers are not as “malty” as some of the more chemical-laden alternatives, but they still satisfy.  They sell them in bulk at my local natural foods grocer, but I have never looked for them a Whole Foods.

    Comment by Lindsay on 2/22/07 at 1:08 pm #
  7. I totally agree with Jason on these Sun Drops.  These are a very good alternative to those chemical laden M&Ms; that some children can’t eat.  For those children, these are a very tasty and much healthier treat.  I even like them myself.  They don’t have the same crunch and taste as those oh so bad for us treats that we grew up on, but the kids that grow up only eating these kinds of candies are going to be so much better off and less their chances of cancer caused by all of those colors, preservatives and chemicals that we can’t pronounce in our foods.  I say try them… I think you will like them.  No rashes for kids allergic to those colors either, but then you feel like you are having M&Ms;....

    Comment by Stephanie on 6/22/07 at 5:30 am #
  8. I love sundrops. The peanut ones are my favorite!  I love the subtle taste that the all natural colors from vegetable sources impart.  It helps me to think more along the lines of living in harmony with nature.  Also, I would not put all that artificial color crap in my or my daughter’s body.  I do wish they were cheaper.

    Comment by Karen on 10/03/07 at 8:41 am #
  9. I tried Sun Drops for the first time today, and I have to say they’re not that bad. The flavor is quite different from M&Ms;, and actually a bit sweeter. While I agree that they’re not that appealing to look at, the taste makes up for it.

    Comment by Mindy on 11/08/07 at 9:47 pm #
  10. This is a great alternative for children who have a sensitivity to Corn Syrup.  That is why I buy them.  My sons are quite pleased to have an “m&m” like candy since they know that they can’t have m&m’s due to the corn syrup.

    Comment by lynn zeiner on 12/05/07 at 1:45 pm #
  11. first, sun drops are delicious and addictive, you obviously do not know your candy

    second, sun drops are made with all natural and organic ingredients, there are no synthetic preservatives, and the colours look like “old lady lipstick” (good metaphor?) because theyre are dyed using concentrated beet, carrot, etc. do your research..

    Comment by Dori Lynde on 4/19/08 at 2:23 pm #
  12. also, i just read the end, and you tell parents to buy m&m;‘s for their children instead. [insulting expletives deleted by admin]. might as well just inject them with hydrogenated soybean oil and msg.

    Comment by dori Lynde on 4/19/08 at 2:24 pm #
  13. Cybele's avatar

    Do your own research Dori (btw, I removed your profanity, do yourself a favor by clicking that link that notes the comment policy here and find that sort of potty material is not welcome). There is no hydrogenated soybean oil or MSG in M&MS;or Raisinets or plain old chocolate chips (which you can get organic and fair trade these days). Sunspire Sun Drops may be all-natural, but they are not organic.

    This review is 2 1/2 years old. I’ve reviewed far more candies in the time since then. Oh, wait, no, you didn’t do any research ... you just clicked on one post on the blog via a google search and jumped to your conclusions. (Yes, I looked in the stats and found how you got here, where you came from and how much time you spent.)

    Click on the organic or all-natural category here on the blog and you can find dozens of better candies that actually have less sugar in them.

    You can like them because you think they’re tasty, but don’t tell me that I should think that they are.

    Treats are just that, treats. They are not a mode of giving nutrition. If you don’t like the artificial colors, that’s a valid point, but Sunspire Chocolate has more sugar in it than most other chocolate confectionery.

    Comment by Cybele on 4/19/08 at 2:38 pm #
  14. I love sundrops!!!  I am sensitive to chemicals and that includes all of the artificial colorings in everything.  SO for me these are heaven. YUMMMMMM!!!

    Comment by mom of three on 5/22/08 at 4:00 pm #
  15. Having come to this review from a more recent link from another only half-edible Sunspire product, I’m astonished at the defensive reactions from some readers about Sundrops! One has to wonder if the manufacturer planted some reviewers here…

    Sundrops are edible. If you wait a day after trying them and then try them again without having any mainstream sugar products in the meantime, they grow on you (like a fungus…). But if you’re eating PB Cups and M&Ms; and the like… Sundrops are gonna stink in comparison. If all you feed your kids is this kind of all natural thing, they’ll like it a lot, because it’s sweet, and that’s what it comes down to with kids.

    Comment by Karyn on 5/14/09 at 7:22 am #
  16. I’ve eaten probably a hundred pounds of sundrops the past few years.  They are an excellent chocolate treat as sunspire uses high quality chocolate.  the shells are made of beeswax which has its benefits and the coloring is non-toxic unlike the coal-tar derivatives on m&ms;.  there are better chocolate sources including green&black; which is the best I’ve had but sundrops are hardly a failed product and they never “stink” versus mainstream crap products which inevitably contain genetically modified ingredients, artificial or natural flavoring (msg), etc.  I hope “crap” isn’t too potty mouth for you…..

    Comment by michael on 8/31/09 at 3:05 pm #
  17. Sundrops rock! They are so good - M&M’s taste like artificial crap - and they are.

    Comment by Sheryl on 10/07/09 at 1:53 pm #
  18. Sundrops do indeed rock. Plus, I like making a statement that treats don’t have to have artificial flavors and colors to taste good. And I’m pretty sure SunDrops aren’t made with sugar and corn syrup like M&M’s.

    Comment by Me on 10/07/09 at 3:08 pm #
  19. Cybele's avatar

    Me - yes, they’re made with sugar. In fact, when I compared them they had more sugar than M&Ms;. Yes, it’s called “evaporated cane juice” which might be nicer for the environment, but it’s processed in the body the same way all sucrose is.

    Honestly, I recommend trying Figamajigs - all natural, better tasting plus the added goodness of real figs.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/07/09 at 3:20 pm #
  20. I meant they’re not made with *refined* sugar, nor are they made with corn syrup.

    Figamajigs are artificially colored, chocolate covered figs…

    Comment by Me on 10/08/09 at 8:08 am #
  21. Cybele's avatar

    Me - “refined sugar” and “unrefined sugar” such as evaporated cane juice behave identically in the body. It’s sucrose. Evaporated cane juice contains minute trace minerals (not as much as molasses obviously). I’m not sure what your beef with plain corn syrup is, it’s just glucose. Is it that corn is pretty much all GMO in the US? Or do you think it’s the same as High Fructose Corn Syrup ... because it’s not the same.

    I have no idea what this ingredient Sundrops currently use is “whole rice solids” as that was not in the version that was reviewed here. The version I reviewed was made with molasses. Remember, you’re commenting on a product that was sold FOUR years ago. It is no longer available. (Sunspire was bought by a different company in the interim.)

    As for the Figamajigs comment, they do make an all natural version.

    Another option is Kimmie Candies all natural Sunbursts. They’re chocolate covered sunflowers seeds with all natural colored shells. Again, far less sugar (whatever the source) than Sundrops.

    Just for the record, I don’t have it in for Sunspire products, I enjoy their peppermint pattie and dark chocolate coconut bar. I just think that this product in particular could be better - good chocolate doesn’t have to have a lot of sugar in it.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/08/09 at 8:23 am #
  22. I think a lot of us care *how* our sugar gets to our bodies, yes. Corn allergies and the all-too-powerful corn industry aside, both corn syrup and refined sugar are highly processed with chemicals. Which not only takes more energy, it frightens me. It was only a few months ago that we found out (no thanks to the FDA) that HFCS was being processed with mercury-laden lye.

    That said, I’m not at all a sugar prude. I just like SunDrops!

    And because I was curious, here’s a sugar content rundown:

    Figamajigs: 56%
    M&Ms;: 51%
    Chocoate covered sunflower seeds: 44%
    Peanut M&Ms;: 40%
    SunDrops: 36%
    Peanut SunDrops: 27%

    BTW, I don’t know what “whole rice solids” is, but whole rice syrup solids is a more natural version of corn syrup.

    Comment by Me on 10/09/09 at 12:20 pm #
  23. Cybele's avatar

    If you LIKE it better, well that’s all I need to hear!

    I didn’t like them and I believe that forcing your kids to eat a candy they don’t really like is actually worse for them than giving them less of the treat they really want (or finding a different one that meets both strict parent specs and their preferences).

    Comment by Cybele on 10/09/09 at 12:30 pm #
  24. I have been giving my kids Sundrops since our daughter was diagnosed with extremely mild ADD.  Eliminating artificial colors, flavors, and as many preservatives and as much cornsyrup as possible has really helped with her ability to focus.  She is not a big swwet eater but was disappointed when M&Ms; were no longer “on the menu”.  These are an acceptable alternative for her.  Our sweet tooth son actually likes them better than M&Ms;.  If you don’t have food issues and don’t mind popping the chemicals and injesting them, stick with the M&Ms;.

    Comment by D. on 10/21/09 at 6:00 am #
  25. The focus of all the other comments seems to be that there is no ‘natural’ alternative to M&Ms; and however these things taste, they’re good for that reason.

    Just from a European point of view, I’m wondering how this is the case. We don’t use corn syrup in anything. Most of our sweets are made with natural colours. Smarties are the home-brand of this type of thing (they’re like disc-shaped M&Ms;), but we also have M&Ms; made with sugar and as far as I know, mostly natural colourants. I don’t feel they taste any different to the US ones, maybe less chemically or with more of a natural sweetness, but definitely the same thing.

    Can anybody compare these sweets to European M&Ms; as it seems ludicrous that there’s no alternative to chemical-laden, corn syrup based chocolate in the US!

    Comment by Joeby on 4/23/10 at 12:22 pm #
  26. Cybele's avatar

    Joeby - the corn syrup in M&Ms; is in the candy coating, not as a sweetener for the actual chocolate. Though Europeans don’t use corn sweeteners as often, glucose syrup is the same thing biologically.

    We can actually get Nestle Smarties here, though only in the big metropolitan areas that have import shops. (This review was done before Smarties went to all natural colorings.)

    Comment by Cybele on 4/23/10 at 12:36 pm #
  27. Ah, crud!  I got these because my daughter was diagnosed with an allergy to white sugar and she loves M&Ms;. Maybe it’s the bleaching or something else in the refining process because she seems to be ok with evap’d cane juice, honey, fruit juices, molasses, etc.  I know that sugar is supposed to be treated the same way for insulin and digestive purposes, but white sugar doesn’t act right in her system.

    I’ll definitely look around for other options since this is an older review.  We have been using the Enjoy Life SemiSweet chocolate chips.  They are like mini-chips, but they work with no complaints.

    Comment by Tabitha on 5/17/10 at 7:43 pm #
  28. I am munching on these candies as I type… I can’t figure out why the outer coating has a kind of peppery/burnt flavor.  The inside is okay, but these are pretty gross in general.  And yet… I can’t stop eating them.

    Comment by Kate on 6/26/10 at 11:35 am #
  29. If you are used to m&m’s, sundrops taste pretty bad in comparison. we eliminated all artificial dyes and flavors in our household a couple of years ago because my son had severe adhd with raging tantrums. At first, Sundrops were a tolerable replacement, but now we love them and think they taste great! I actually think M&M’s would taste pretty bad to me now. BTW eliminating the artificials put an end to the raging behaviors and I can’t bear to consume or allow my kids to consume anything with the carcinogenic, petroleum based dyes. I am very jealous that foods in the UK no longer contain them!

    Comment by hallie on 7/18/10 at 7:44 pm #
  30. Ha, 5 years later and people are still commenting on this.

    People who freak out about “chemicals” in their food are just being silly. Pssssst: I hate to be the one to tell y’all this, but cocoa powder is made of chemicals. Beet juice is made of chemicals. Pure cane sugar is made of chemicals. WATER is a chemical.

    And yup, if you don’t give kids anything else, badly made and poor tasting candy will seem comparatively yummy to them. Just like to starving kids in war-torn countries, wormy rice porridge is delicious. Mmm, mmm!

    Comment by kristinc on 8/31/10 at 2:00 pm #
  31. Of course water is a chemical, and so is DEET.

    When we talk about not wanting chemicals in our food, we’re generally talking about artificial chemicals. Does everybody agree that synthetic food dyes are harmless? Doesn’t seem like it: http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

    And “artificial flavors” is just an umbrella term that hides a laundry list of unnamed synthetic chemicals.

    There’s plenty to debate about, but my question is: Why? Have you had Cheetos Natural Cheese Puffs? Do you miss regular Cheetos’ artificial flavors and the artificial colors that stain your fingers?

    As for the odd analogy about starving kids in war-torn countries loving wormy rice porridge… if the comments on this blog are any indication, even people who know and love M&Ms; can love Sun Drops.

    Comment by jason maurer on 8/31/10 at 4:34 pm #
  32. 95% of the people I talk to who are concerned about “chemicals” in their food have no idea what specifically they should worry about. They have no idea what the various “chemicals they can’t pronounce” really are. They just know they should be filled with this vague and consuming fear of “chemicals in our food”. They’d chow down happily on sassafras extract because it’s “all natural” and shy away from a label listing D-glucopyranoside or dihydrogen monoxide.

    I like my real Cheetos. They taste delicious. Like Cheetos should. The natural ones are okay, and I like Pirate Booty too, but they’re no Cheetos.

    Anyway, my point wasn’t that no one could possibly like Sun Drops, de gustibus non est disputandum. My point was that you can’t successfully argue that Sun Drops are delicious because kiddos who have never had well-executed chocolate will settle for them. Mediocre sweets are still mediocre even if one has never tasted anything else. Fortunately, there are a lot of *good* options now for chocolate free of artificial ingredients.

    Comment by kristinc on 8/31/10 at 10:45 pm #
  33. Poor Amy! Sunspire candy sucks!

    Comment by Taylor on 5/03/11 at 5:43 pm #
  34. I personally find these to be disgusting, if you really smell them for a while and put them in your mouth to soak, you’re gonna spit it out. I definitely agree with Cybele’s comments on giving your children WHAT THEY WANT is much better than forcing them to eat a YUCKY alternative.

    Comment by Martha Milla on 8/02/11 at 11:56 am #
  35. Wow. I play a game - I let one dark chocolate Sun Drop melt in my mouth for one minute. Then I do the same with the next. Not only do they have enough substance to survive this, I am chocolate-happy during this experience. Can I do this with dark chocolate M&Ms;? No. It is hard for me to dance as much as I do without getting huge sugar cravings. Sundrops resolve my yearning without any heavy candy penalty in my body.
    My young friends love them, too. But some people expect things to taste a certain way. Not us.

    Comment by Sandy on 9/02/11 at 3:30 pm #
  36. Let me start by saying that my recent (and first) experience with Sun Drops was with the 2011 formulation which, to the best of my recollection, contained brown rice syrup solids but not molasses. (I bought a small amount bulk at my locally-owned Whole-Foods-type store. So the product I ate was a different formulation than the one reviewed.

    Personally? I liked them. I got the peanut ones, as I prefer M&M-type candy with nuts to the nutless ones. (I actually ate a half-step-above-generic brand of knock-off peanut M&Ms; for several years, finding I preferred them to the name brand; my reason for ditching the “real” M&Ms; was disgust at the excuses major candymakers were making instead of ensuring their cocoa wasn’t harvested by child slaves. I knew it was just as likely the knock-off version used questionable source ingredients, but A, it wasn’t made by a huge corporation that could easily afford to do better, and B, it was a product of Latin America and thus potentially might have been made with locally-sourced cocoa before being shipped to the U.S. Avoiding candy produced by the labor of child slaves is my choice, and I’m NOT saying anyone else is required to do the same “or else.”) I’ve been a fan of natural pigments since before that was cool, having collected and mixed my own tempera-paint pigments way back in the 80s, so I found the natural hues and variations appealing—which, again, is my personal preference.

    Someone else commented about the allegedly suspicious defensiveness of some Sundrops fans on this post. I’d say there have been people in need of a perspective check on both sides… just because something tastes “yucky” to one person doesn’t mean it will taste bad to everyone else in the world! Food preferences are wildly individual. Take me, for example: I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate; I love blue cheeses, baba ghannouj, century eggs, kimchee, ceviché, and (U.S.) Southern-style sausage gravy over biscuits; but I can’t stomach liver, hot fudge sauce on ice cream, or broccoli rabe even though I love escarole, dandelion greens and other “bitter” vegetables. Most people I know would feel the opposite way about most of those foods, but I don’t think they’re wrong! Just different.

    I was storing my Sundrops in a (reused, recyclable) plastic container in a part of my workspace that gets direct afternoon sunlight. The little greenhouse boost meant that, right around the point in the day when I’d want a snack, they heated up to melting in their little candy shells and were—to my palate at least—extra delicious. Some of their wax finish melted off too, but that I found just a handy visual guide to which ones had reached optimal temperature.

    Bottom line, nobody can know for sure whether they’ll like any food until they try it. I try new foods all the time and have a fairly broad range of tastes, but I’m always surprised when I find something I can’t bring myself to eat again, or even finish the first time.

    Comment by a Jack on 11/10/11 at 6:38 pm #
  37. Cybele's avatar

    Jack - I haven’t tried the new Sundrops. They were sold to a different company a couple of years ago. But my generally feeling about Sunspire is that I like their dark chocolate products but their milk chocolate formulation is too burnt and sour for my tastes.

    I agree with the slave issues. I think for kids there aren’t as many options for fun candy. Guittard is mostly South American sourced and they have some really tasty chocolate drops (not candy covered though) that are much more cost effective than some of the Fair Trade candies. But if you want some really good candy coated milk chocolate, try Divine’s. They’re pricey but gorgeous and actually sourced from Africa.

    Comment by Cybele on 11/10/11 at 7:52 pm #
  38. I grew up eating these and I LOVE them!

    Comment by Lauren on 4/04/12 at 2:14 pm #
  39. At my company, we carry Sunspire Sundrops…I’m curious as to what they taste like now! If they’re any different, etc. You seemed to have made quite an impression on the people here lol, that’s for sure. Any plans to re-visit?

    Comment by Megan on 8/10/12 at 11:46 am #
  40. I love the milk chocolate Sun Drops. Our local Whole Foods used to carry them in the bulk section. Now, they are sold as 10 oz bags in the baking section by the chocolate chips. I used to eat M&Ms; all the time, but now I am hooked on Sun Drops. The color and appearance of the candies don’t bother me as the taste is the most important thing! I only wish they weren’t so expensive - $5.99/bag.

    Comment by Jennifer on 2/15/13 at 1:28 pm #
  41. M&M’s have artificial everything and are a seizure trigger for my epileptic friend.  So when my friend found these, well… went a bit crazy with them.  The Sun Drops Milk Chocolate ones are those I like, though my friend likes the dark choc. ones best.  and I do love them.  They are simply awesome tasting.  I agree w/one of the bashers that the shell is a little tough, but a happy compromise to avoid chemicals that trigger seizures in the most common alternative (M&Ms;).  I found this blog/review site while shopping for them in bulk (I like them that much).  And yes, they are super pricey when getting the little 1.2 Oz packs, thus the bulk package shopping.

    Certainly worth trying!  I recommend them highly!

    If I stretch and find a complaint:  I wish they came in ‘organic’ for the milk-content.

    Comment by Jim on 4/12/14 at 2:44 pm #

Name:

Email:
(not published)

Location:
(not published - please don't put your address in there)

URL:

Comments may be held for moderation to prevent spam and other violations of the Candy Blog Comment Policy

Remember me!

Get updates to comments on this post?

Next entry: Baltic Candies: Dubingiai & Veliuona

Previous entry: Coffee Crisp to come to USA?




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT

FEEDS

CONTACT

  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Here are some frequently asked questions emailed to me you might want to read first.

EMAIL DIGEST

    For a daily update of Candy Blog reviews, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

CANDY RATINGS

TYPE

BRAND

COUNTRY

ARCHIVES

Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

Facebook IconTwitter IconTumblr IconRSS Feed IconEmail Icon

COUNTDOWN

Halloween Candy Season Ends

0 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

image

ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• 10 Candies that Shouldn’t Be So Disappointing

• Brach’s Bridge Mix

• Russell Stover Big Bite Pecan Pie

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

 

 

image