Several months ago, an author known for being a strong proponent of healthful eating wrote an article about a new line of “good” candy bars. You know: organic ingredients, no preservatives, that sort of thing.

The author took an if-you-can”™t-beat-em-join-em approach. Candy isn”™t going to go away, so let”™s make better candy.

Who makes these healthy candy bars? A company aptly named UnReal. Their idea was to duplicate the top-selling candy bars, using different — better — ingredients.

What”™s supposedly good about the candy?

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Good taste, better ingredients, and improved nutritional value. That translates to being made without chemicals, artificial colors, artificial flavors, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or GMOs.

[Let me stop here to ask a dumb question: How would you get GMOs in a candy bar, anyway? Aren”™t those typically found in agricultural products? So are we just talking about non-GMO peanuts?]

What else is supposedly good about these candy bars?

They apparently contain less sugar, more protein, more fiber, and — I”™m as confused as I can get about this one — real food ingredients. Does it seem contradictory to anyone else to talk about “real food ingredients” and candy in the same sentence?

Please don”™t say agave.

As a final benefit, the candy bars are sold in the same places and for the same prices as the standard junk versions. Because that was my primary concern: convenience.

Okay, what”™s actually in the candy?

Here”™s a list of ingredients from one bar:

Milk Chocolate (cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, skim milk, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), Caramel (tapioca syrup, cane sugar, fructan (prebiotic fiber), organic palm kernel oil, whey, milk protein concentrate, organic cream, vanilla extract, salt, soy lecithin), Peanuts, Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Skim Milk, Peanut Flour, Salt, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Evaporated Cane Syrup, Soy Lecithin.

Could you enumerate the health benefits of that list? They escape me, but maybe I missed something.

Readers weigh in

Several people commented on the article, including me. Here”™s my comment, and please keep in mind that I was being polite:

“I saw a display of UnReal candy bars at Staples a couple of days ago. Curiosity made me read the label of one bar, and I couldn”™t help laughing at the number of sugars in it. As a recovered sugar addict, I certainly didn”™t have the guts to try one…. I honestly can”™t see how these products could teach children, or anyone else, about the value of fresh, whole foods or steer them in that direction.”

If you”™ve read my articles, that comment won”™t surprise you, even a little. It”™s just me doing my anti-sugar thing again.

The truly surprising thing was the enthusiasm a number of respondents had for the product: “Go, UnReal!” “Bravo!” “Great idea!” “Kudos to UnReal.” Others described their plans to give out the healthy candy bars on Halloween.

And many of the folks who commented positively seem to have kids.

Fortunately, others indicated disapproval of the candy bars and disappointment with the author (“Have you sold your soul to the devil?”).

That made me laugh. A seminar attendee once summed up my attitude as, “Sugar is the devil.”

Well, sugar can, and absolutely does, outweigh whatever benefits a so-called “healthy” candy bar can claim to have — even one with non-GMO peanuts.

My recommendation?

Stop looking for a sugar loophole. If there were one, I would have found it. No one looked harder than I did 🙂


Joan Kent

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