Guess the “Food” #3 – Sweetness!

This is the third installment in the Gues the “Food” series. If you’re curious how I come up with these it’s basically a combination of A) reader emails (so you should email me if you have a good idea!) and B) wondering aimlessly around CVS trying to find interesting stuff.

This one was from a reader email and I’m hoping that it’s tougher. I don’t think I would’ve gotten it honestly, but you guys are pretty good and tend to get them right within the first few comments. Let’s see how ya do today.

The Facts

Well, you can tell pretty quickly based on the serving size that this is a liquid of some sort so that should help you out. You could also guess that by the first listed ingredient, water. Let’s try to pick out a few other details based on the facts.

At 50 calories per serving or 200 calories per quart, it’s not terribly caloric. There are probably worse things out there, but it’s definitely not a diet beverage either.

What’s key to note here I’d say is that if you drank the entire quart bottle of this stuff (which I would guess most people do), you’re getting roughly 20% of your recommended daily sodium intake and also a solid 56 grams of sugar. Having a hard time envisioning what 56 grams of sugar looks like?

Above is what 56 grams of sugar looks like. It’s probably about 5-6 Tablespoons of sugar:

So, from the looks of it, this appears to be, well, sugar salt water.

Maybe the ingredients will tell more.

The Ingredients

This is one of the shorter list of ingredients I’ve done, but it’s got some new stuff in it.

Water. Good old H2O. Nothing wrong with water and given that this is a liquid of some sort, it’s not too surprising that water is the first ingredient.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (Glucose-fructose syrup). Listed as the second ingredient on the list, this explains all the sugar. The glucose-fructose syrup label in parenthesis is just what the Brits call HFCS. If you aren’t sure what HFCS is, at its most basic it’s a sweetener made from corn. Manufacturers love to use it because it’s cheaper than sugar.

There’s been some studies that suggest that even the same caloric intake of HFCS instead of sugar can lead to weight gain which is interesting.

For me, I guess I try to avoid the stuff but I’m not a Nazi about it. I’m sure that there are a lot more unhealthy things that I could be eating on a daily basis. As with anything, I just try to be aware of what I’m eating. As long as you are keeping an eye on how much sugar or HFCS you are eating, it’s probably not the end of the world.

All of that said, I was shocked to find it listed as the second ingredient in this drink.

Sucrose Syrup. Apparently the manufacturer thought they needed more sugar in this product. Sucrose is basically table sugar and you can make a syrup out of it with some water and some heat. It just makes it easier to add, say, to a beverage.

Citric Acid. A light acid that’s used a lot in foods as a flavor agent and as a preservative. It’s found naturally in all kinds of citrus fruits, hence the name.

Natural Flavor. Talk about an non-descript ingredient. Why don’t they just say, “Stuff.”

Salt. There’s a fair amount of salt in this drink actually. As with most foods, there needs to be a good balance between salty and sweet and this drink has a lot of sweet so it’s got to have at least some salt.

Sodium Citrate. A random chemical that as far as I can tell is used mainly in drinks to keep PH levels steady.

Monopotassium Phosphate. This one was kind of hard to find info on honestly. The best I could unearth is that it’s used mainly as a simple preservative. Makes sense I guess.

Modified Food Starch. Basically a thickening agent. It can also be used as an emulsifier. I’m guessing they don’t use much of this stuff as it isn’t really a gravy or anything.

Red 40. Umm… it turns things red.

Glycerol Ester of Rosin. I have to say, I’ve never seen this before. Looks like just another emulsifier and stabilizer though.

Caramel Color. Guess what. It turns things a caramel color.

So there’s the run down. I thought this one might be tricky so prove me wrong!

Guess the “Food”!

29 comments on “Guess the “Food” #3 – Sweetness!

  1. I might be wrong, but isn't this Coca Cola or one akin drink (Pepsi etc, they all taste the same to me)?

  2. The amount in there is throwing me. 32 fl oz. is a little less than a liter. I know soda comes in 12 oz. cans, 20 oz. bottles, and 2 liter bottles. But I think it might also come in 1 liter bottles and maybe they just round up those extra 40 mLs? Anyhow, my guess is Dr. Pepper.

  3. I don't think it's cola/soda because it says 4 servings in 8 ozs. My first thought was tomato paste…but wouldn't there be some trace of tomatoes?

  4. It can't be soda–50 calories for 8 fl oz? No way it's so low! Also, it doesn't include caffeine, which most caramel-coloured sodas include.

    KPO3 and sodium citrate are either buffers or used for the Na/K ion channel things we need to live.

    I'd go with some sort of sports drink, too.

  5. My guess would be something along the lines of some sort of flavored water, but not the "energy" or "sport" kind. It could even be Sobee tea.

  6. Re the "glycerol ester of rosin": http://www.rosinchem.com/productse_6.htm – basically, you were correct about it being used as a stabilizer/emulsifier.

    Not any kind of carbonated beverage – no phosphoric acid, no carbonic acid, no "carbonated water" listed.

    I have to go along with Angela and say "red Gatorade".

  7. I would have to say Fruit Punch Gatorade. It is the only drink that I know that comes in 32oz bottles. Plus red dye #40 means it is red and Fruit Punch is the only Gatorade that is red.

  8. Correction: go along with Angela, Kelly, Niki, Kenneth & Lizzy in the "Gatorade" conclusion.

  9. Chiming in on the gatorade chorus here… I had a roommate who LOVED the stuff (she was super athletic), and we had an ongoing joke that you had to shake it to "distribute the electrolytes." Heh heh heh.

  10. Definitely a sports drink – the salt may do something for the flavor, but it's also there to replace salt lost in sweating. That's what "electrolytes" are – salt.

  11. Nice work people. I don't know about you but I was shocked at how similar it is to soda. besides the carbonation and a tiny bit less sugar, it's basically the same.

  12. I knew it wasn’t coke one I saw the red dye. But the caramel color was throwing me off so I figured it was strawberry soda until I saw someone point out there was no carbonation. This one was really hard! Great job! :D

  13. It only took a few hours for nutrition experts to question the findings of the Princeton study which “compared” high fructose corn syrup to table sugar. In fact, even noted nutritionist Marion Nestle wrote: “I don’t think the study produces convincing evidence of a difference between the effects of HFCS and sucrose on the body weight of rats. I’m afraid I have to agree with the Corn Refiners on this one. So does HFCS make rats fat? Sure if you feed them too many calories altogether. Sucrose will do that too.”

    In other words, sugar is sugar, whether it comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, or corn. The key is moderation, or “keeping an eye on everything” as blogger Nick puts it, and not demonizing one ingredient as the singular cause of obesity.

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