Monday, May 5, 2008

Hershey’s Favorites - Sugar Free

imageHershey’s has a line of sugar free candies, while they’re not a low calorie snack, they do have a lower glycemic index because they’ve substitute sugar for sugar alcohols. I gave their version of the Hershey’s Chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and York Peppermint Pattie a try.

As is always the case, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While sugar alcohols may lower the calorie count, they’re also not as sweet as sugar and sometimes have unwanted side effects. Here’s what the packages say:

Sugar Alcohols (Maltitol, Lactitol, Isomalt & Polyglycitol - sugar substitutes) are slowly metabolized carbohydrates that generally cause only a small rise in blood glucose levels

Sugar alcohols have another benefit, they do not promote tooth decay, as they cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria.

Say what? Polyglycitol? That’s a new one on me, so I looked it up:

A mixture consisting mainly of maltitol and sorbitol and lesser amounts of hydrogenated oligo and polysaccharides and maltotriitol. Manufactured by the catalytic hydrogenation of a mixture consisting of glucose, maltose, and higher glucose polymers; typically supplied as a syrup; may also be dried and supplied as a solid product

I’m well aware the many of these sugar alcohols can cause intestinal upset (and other euphemisms to erupt). For this reason I was exceptionally careful not to eat too much. I only ate two a day, even though a serving as determined by the package was 3-5 pieces.

Sugar Free Hershey's Chocolate Minis

Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolates

Well, they look really good. Each one was a pristine little chocolatey block.

But there was something amiss. It has the same slightly fudgy, slightly grainy texture. But it’s cool on the tongue and the chocolate flavors are a little too much on the high range, lacking depth. The milkyness was missing completely.

It doesn’t taste like Hershey’s chocolate. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really taste like chocolate ... it’s too sweet.

Here’s what I know about sugar alcohols: they don’t have as many calories as sugar, but they also don’t taste as sweet. In the case of maltitol it’s 90% as sweet as sucrose, which basically means that when they add it to something and they want an equivalent delivery of sweetness, they put more in. Putting in more sweetener means something else has to be reduced by proportion. My guess in this case is that they reduced the cocoa solids ... which are already pretty low in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. (Or they reduced the milk, which may also reduce the flavor profile.)

As a low calorie treat, these do definitely have a lower caloric density:

139 calories per ounce for regular Hershey’s Chocolate
113 calories per ounce for Sugar Free Hershey’s Chocolate

If you like R.M. Palmer chocolate, you might find this acceptable.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Sugar Free Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Sugar Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Like the Hershey’s bars, these were lovely little cups of perfection at first glance. They’re wrapped in orange foil, not gold, so it’s easy for trained candy eaters to tell them apart. They seem a little smaller than regular Reese’s Minis (just shorter) but otherwise are glossy and pretty.

They smell of sweet peanut butter.

The chocolate shell is similar to the Hershey’s bar ... the same cooling effect on the tongue, decent melt but lack of chocolate kick. No matter, the peanut butter center seems to overwhelm that in a satisfactory manner. The peanut butter is crumbly and sweet and creamy all at the same time. A little salty kick seals the simulation as being pretty close to the original.

145 calories per ounce for regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
116 calories per ounce for Sugar Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

I didn’t realize until after eating two of these that there was Sucralose in there too (this is the only one of the three that uses an artificial sweetener - though I could hear arguments that polyglycitol is also not natural at this point). I didn’t notice any of the ill effects that I get from Aspartame (headache, shakes & nausea) but there was a light lingering sweet and ever so slight aluminum-like metallic aftertaste.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (if it didn’t have the aftertaste, it’d be a 7).

Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

They look exactly like the full-sugar York Peppermint Patties, smell a little chocolatey and very minty. The mini size is my favorite, so this was an easy one for me to wrap my head around.

The chocolate shell is only slightly sweet, which is pretty much the way the regular York is. If anything, this one had a better, less chalky melt to it.

The fondant center is a little different. First, it’s rather cool on the tongue. It’s a little grainy, which is fine with me, but then there were some other lighter grainy bits in there . But they weren’t sweet little grains, I’m wondering if the sugar alcohols create a different crystalline matrix. Even so, they’re tasty. Fresh, a bit chocolatey and of course melty and smooth.

102 calories per ounce for regular York Peppermint Patties
63 calories per ounce for Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

As a lower calorie alternative, these are real winners. There are 30 calories in each piece.

Rating: 7 out of 10

In general Hershey’s has done a nice job of approximating the experience of their full-sugar candies. They look great, which is part of the appeal of candy. The packaging doesn’t even feel like a compromise (though the price does).

But these are only good if you can tolerate the sweeteners. If you’re one of the unlucky majority (it seems to be a majority) of the public who experiences the side effects, it’s pointless to eat this stuff. (I had a full box of each of these from a photo shoot and passed some along to a friend of a friend who is diabetic ... who did not react well to them.)

If you want to know if you can eat them, please, start slow unless you have no plans for the next day or so. I seemed to tolerate it pretty well, but again, only two pieces a day, not really the way you want to eat candy you can otherwise eat because of dietary restrictions. 

(Package images at top compiled from Hershey’s website.)

Related Candies

  1. York Mints
  2. Hershey’s Cacao Reserve
  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line
  4. York Pinkermint Patties
Name: Hershey's Sugar Free - Chocolates, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups & York Peppermint Patties
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hershey's
Place Purchased: samples from
Price: $2.50 retail
Size: 3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113 & 116 & 63
Categories: Chocolate, Mint, Peanuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher, Sugar Free

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:30 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. “In the case of maltitol it?s 90% as sweet as sucrose, which basically means that when they add it to something and they want an equivalent delivery of sweetness, they put more in.”

    What do the ingredients lists say? A quick Google search shows that sucralose is added (is this accurate?), indicating that the lack of sweetness in maltitol is balanced out by the high sweetness of the sucralose.

    Comment by PM on 5/05/08 at 9:08 am #
  2. I seem to remember that a few years back there was a line of sugarfree candies that weren’t hersey but they had like knockoff products. They were in a green bag and one type was peanut butter cups (not Reese’s of course). I used to eat them alot because they tasted good and even my grandmother, who is diabetic, was able to eat them. Wish I could remember who made them but I think that was the only sugar free candy that I really liked. Can’t tolerate those that say splenda because I seem to be one of the few that notices there is a slight aftertaste there.

    Love your blog by the way!!

    Comment by Roni on 5/05/08 at 9:35 am #
  3. I have had the Life Savers 5 flavor bag of individually wrapped sugar free candies. They too used sugar alcohols. These were more sour than their original flavors and I was careful not to eat too many at a time. I gave them a 3 out of 10.

    Comment by Victor Stapf on 5/05/08 at 10:46 am #
  4. Very nice.

    Comment by Arthur on 5/05/08 at 10:50 am #
  5. One time when we were on vacation, we had hired a teen boy as a dog sitter.  We came home to find he ate a case of my atkins pb cups( sugar free).  I’m sure he was in for a huge surprise when the effect of them kicked in.  LOL.

    Comment by Randi on 5/05/08 at 12:37 pm #
  6. Yikes! Sorry to hear the Spenda snuck up on you there. :(

    Comment by Sera on 5/05/08 at 5:49 pm #

    Comment by Kathy on 5/06/08 at 6:37 am #
  8. It just doesn’t seem worth it, but at least the Peppermint Patty got high marks.

    Comment by Jeanna on 5/06/08 at 8:34 am #
  9. Cybele's avatar

    Victor - I do have the Sugar Free LifeSavers, however, I can’t eat them because they have sucralose in them.

    PM - the Reese’s were the only ones that listed an additional sweetener. I’m guessing some confections do well with a different set of proprotions. In this case Lactitol & Isomalt wasn’t in the regular chocolate.

    Roni - do you think it was Russell Stover? I’ve heard some folks really like their sugar free line. My grandmother didn’t care for it, but we didn’t experiment too much.

    Randi - it’s probably for the best! Sometimes chocolate can be toxic to dogs in high doses.

    Sera - they print these things so small!

    Kathy & Arthur - I hope it helps you find something that fits what you’re looking for.

    Jeanna - well, after three years, I figured I owed it to folks to at least try the stuff. (And it was free.)

    Comment by Cybele on 5/06/08 at 9:09 am #
  10. I think I’ll stick with having really dark chocolate when I’m trying to avoid sugar.

    The Hershey’s review killed my desire for sweets, which is insanely hard to do. Congrats ... I guess?

    Comment by Lauren on 5/06/08 at 11:29 am #
  11. I thought I was imagining that the sugar-free chocolates felt cool in my mouth.  Thank you for the confirmation.

    Comment by ah-ha on 5/08/08 at 11:06 am #
  12. LOL, the dog sitter ate the chocolates( they were high in a cupboard).  The dogs couldnt get to them.  I know the teenage boy probably spent a good amount of time in the bathroom after eating all those sugar free bars.

    Comment by Randi on 5/10/08 at 4:31 pm #
  13. If you like R.M. Palmer chocolate, you might find this acceptable.

    Ooooh, harsh!

    Comment by Tricia on 5/11/08 at 9:21 am #
  14. I have tried the sugar free peppermint patties.  I am not prone to migranes, in fact I’ve never had a migrane before I ate the sugar free patty.  The headache was so excrutiating I thought I was dying.  I don’t even think I can put it any other way.  Guess its the combo of artificial sweeteners and the chocolate, I don’t get a headache from artificial sweeteners otherwise.  I wonder what the cause of the headache is then.  Anyone??

    Comment by Dana on 9/07/09 at 7:14 am #
  15. Cybele's avatar

    Dana - as mentioned in the review, sugar alcohols are not artificial sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame. Most of their side effects are documented as intestinal distress (gas & diarrhea).

    Whatever it was, I would definitely recommend avoiding both this product and ones that contain that uncommon sugar alcohol Polyglycitol.

    You also might want to tell Hershey’s about your side effect - they should be informed.

    Comment by Cybele on 9/07/09 at 7:37 am #
  16. Soy Lidia Lucía
    quisiera saber donde puedo comprar en aquí en Perú
    muchas gracias.,quienes lo distribuyen para comprar
    muchas gracias nuevamente

    Comment by lidia lucia on 6/26/12 at 3:54 pm #
  17. I had the same experience as Dana.
    I was so excited to find a sugar free candy and it didn’t say it contained aspertame so I had 4 pepperment patties after dinner.
    The headache came on soon after and didn’t go away with aspirin. I had to sleep it off.

    Other than that it tasted good.

    Comment by Julie on 4/08/16 at 6:39 am #
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