We were wrong when, 3 years ago in a marketing meeting with an anonymous Big Candy company, we said spicy candy was going to be the next big thing. At the time it seemed right on given we were seeing more Latin American sweets in our markets, plus novelties like tabasco chocolate and jelly beans.
The trend now, it’s clear to see, is candy that isn’t terrible for you. Candy with more natural ingredients, and fewer allergens, calories, fat, and of course – less sugar. Interesting that it took this long for these semi-good-for-you candies to hit mainstream.
So, I went out and bought $80 worth (included shipping) of Smart Sweets, whose tag line is “kick sugar, keep candy.” Why did I buy it instead of asking the company for free samples to review? Mainly because I could tell they are spending some decent coin to advertise to me on Instagram, and we’ve seen good, young candy companies come and go. I’d rather help keep them afloat than get freebies at this point. No, these candies aren’t cheap, but I bought $80 worth to have leftovers for Halloween and to give to friends and family.
Just how good for you are SmartSweets?
One package of SmartSweets is 45-50g of candy, and 3-4g of sugars. Their gummy bear package has at least 30 pieces and their Starbust-like chewies has 10-12 pieces. For Haribo gummies, a small 5g bag has 18g of sugar. For Starburst, one full package of 10-12 pieces is about 34g of sugar.
So yes – SmartSweets has much less sugar. And it’s noticeable. I first tried the Fruity Bears, which are essentially a gummy bear rival, and I was taken aback at how much less sweet they were. It didn’t sit well with me at first, I gotta be honest. They felt unfinished. But as I ate more — and why not eat more, they have like 5 times less sugar than any other candy I eat — I got used to it, and liked it. Similar to when I first tried natural soda with less sugar. I initially felt I was missing flavor, and now? I can’t even drink a Coke or 7-up because they are way too sweet.
The Watermelon Sour Bites were the best of the bunch. The sour was just right, and didn’t hurt my teeth. It also seemed a tad sweeter even though the package of like 40+ pieces only had 3g.
While the texture of SmartSweets overall is what I expect from a gummy — not to soft but rather hard and firm — the flavors are where these will miss the mark for some. Besides the watermelon, they all tasted kind of the same: a general berry.
When companies go low sugar in candy, they tend to do it with sugar alcohols, like xylitol and sorbitol. Not bad for you necessarily in small amounts, but they can upset some people’s digestive systems, and in my opinion, they taste fake-saccharine sweet.
SmartSweets goes with Allulose, a sugar I hadn’t heard of before. According to the company, this is sweetener found in figs and raisins, and “since Allulose isn’t absorbed by the body, you subtract it, along with other fiber.” VERY interesting. And I did not have any digestive issues with SmartSweets.
Along with low sugars, SmartSweets is non-GMO, gluten-free, Kosher and dairy-free.
It’s not often I can suggest people eat more candy without feeling a little guilty about pushing something unhealthy. In the case of SmartSweets? Eat up. Eat a lot. Eat more. It may take you a few minutes to get used to candy that isn’t as sweet as you are used to, but it might be that you never go back.