Chocolate syrup review

>> Friday, July 25, 2008

We had a heck of a time finding a chocolate syrup that doesn't have HFCS in it. We use it in chocolate milk, which is about the only way I can get my 4 yr old to drink milk these days, and to give my almost 2 yr old her vitamins. But then one day a HFCS-free chocolate syrup magically appeared at our local health food store.

So, we've been using Ah!Laska brand chocolate syrup. Take a look at it's ingredient list:

Organic evaporated cane juice, water, organic cocoa (non-alkaline), xanthan gum (a natural fiber thickener), organic vanilla, citric acid

Pretty innocuous. It's thicker than regular Hershey's syrup and has an odd slight-metallic aftertaste. I don't know what the aftertaste is all about, but my husband and I both experience it. Maybe it's because the cocoa is non-alkaline (I'm pretty sure Hershey's syrup uses Dutch cocoa, which is alkaline treated)? If someone knows, fill me in! It does a fine job making chocolate milk, though, and I find that chocolate is chocolate with Emma.

We do have another option at our fingertips - one that a friend alerted me to. It seems that Hershey's Sugar Free Syrup is also HFCS free. But take a look at it's ingredient list:

water, erythritol, glycerin, cocoa, natural flavors, citric acid, xanthan gum, salt, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, caramel color, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, vanillin, artificial flavor, zinc sulfate vitamin e acetate, niacinamide and biotin

A little more confusing, no? I had to look up what erythritol was. In case you're curious as I was, it's a plant derived sugar alcohol that is 70% as sweet as table sugar and has no calories. Sugar alcohols are sometimes used in sugar-free products for sweetness because our bodies don't process them the same way that they do sugars. They don't cause tooth decay (xylitol, another commonly used sugar alcohol, actually inhibits tooth decay), and they don't really impact blood sugar levels. One problem with sugar alcohols is that because they aren't completely absorbed by our bodies, they can ferment in the intestines and cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Lovely. Erythritol is a smaller sugar alcohol than most of the commonly used sugar alcohols and doesn't cause as many intestinal problems as the others, but consuming too much can still lead to these unpleasant side effects.

Glycerin was another unexpected ingredient - mainly because it was the third ingredient. Glycerin is a common candy ingredient as it helps with moisture retention and is also a sweetener, but I don't recall seeing it used in such amounts in a food product before.

Between the erythritol, glycerin, and all of the preservatives, artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, aka Splenda, is also in there), and artificial flavors, we've decided to stick with the Ah!Laska syrup despite the metallic aftertaste. It's not a home run, but it's good enough.


Hil July 25, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

The Torani mocha sauce is HFCS free. I mix it in with coffee and milk. It is very tasty! I think it contains dutch chocolate?

cathy July 25, 2008 at 6:40 PM  

I haven't seen that in our stores, Hil, but I'll keep my eyes open for it. Living in a small town, my options are sometimes more limited than I would like. I should check on Amazon to see what they have to offer too. Thanks for the rec!

Hil July 26, 2008 at 10:53 AM  

It wasn't in the chocolate syrup section of my store, I found it where the coffee syrup section (If your store carries those).

I also live in a small town and my choices are pretty limited, however, we travel about 35 minutes to another town to go to the natural foods store :)

Jehnie July 26, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Glad you found an option with a better ingredient list! We have the Sugar Free syrup but only use it to make hot chocolate for Andrew in the winter since he can't have any of the prepackaged mixes.

cathy July 26, 2008 at 6:13 PM  

I wouldn't stress too much about it, Jehnie. I might use it if I didn't have an alternative.

And Hil, I found the Torani sauce in one of our stores today. Oddly enough, they had all of the flavors except chocolate! I'm going to check some of the other stores later in the week.

Rachel July 27, 2008 at 8:46 PM  

Good to know. I am finding that I am using your blog as we run out of various food items. I am doing quick checks and then trying to go HFCS-free. I have to say, your blog is making it a lot less overwhelming and painful.

So, hey, thanks for that.

cathy July 28, 2008 at 6:54 AM  

Thanks, Rachel! I love to hear that! This blog is helping to keep me motivated, and it thrills me if it's helping others too. I've got lots more reviews to come. If you think of a product or something you want to know more about, let me know. I could always use more ideas!

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Anonymous October 10, 2008 at 4:03 PM  

Make your own!

1/2 cup cocoa powder of your choice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

stir in a saucepan until mostly blended, then heat on stove and boil while stirring for about 1 minute. Let cool and it is about the same consistency as Hershey's syrup. Put in a sealed container and keep in the fridge.

Add vanilla if desired after it cools.

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Mike S. September 14, 2012 at 6:23 AM  

Thanks for the research! I think our Whole Foods carries the Oh! Alaska... if not, I'll order it from Amazon. I'll be looking for the aftertaste and post my experience.

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