The Artificial and Natural Sweetener Taste Test
April 19, 2013
#6: Sweet'N Low
Made with: Saccharin
Yeah, there was no helping this one. One taster wrote "POISONOUS?" which seemed to sum up the general opinion of it. The harsh sweetness, plus the powdered texture, threw everyone off; said one taster, "it looks like baking soda." And one taster noted that it created a bitterness on the sides of the tongue and back of the throat.
Tied for #5: Stevia Extract in the Raw
Made with: Stevia
Stevia in the Raw prompted one reaction overall: weird. The texture was what really got to everyone, as it clumped in coffee (understandably, as raw products tend to have a much different texture than granulated, processed sugars), but it was noted for its lack of sweetness. Still, that didn’t make it an overall winner. One taster said the flavor reminded him of Diet Pepsi; others noted that it tasted artificial (which Stevia is not) and bitter. Still, it was deemed "not as poisonous" by one taster.
Tied for #5: Equal
"Tastes like sugar-free gum" — sounds about right. "Could taste the artificialness — kind of like a mean girl." (Touché.) Some said it wasn’t as bad as the other sweeteners, but it was still deemed to be too sweet.
#4: Monk Fruit in the Raw
Made with: Monk fruit and dextrose
This was one of two curveballs in the taste test (the other being regular, granulated sugar). The new product from the In the Raw lineup is made from monk fruit, a low-calorie, vine-ripened fruit native to Asia. The release about the new sweetener says it’s about "300 times sweeter than cane sugar, is blended with dextrose, a natural carbohydrate derived from corn, to create the perfect balance of sweetness…" So how did it fare with our other natural and artificial sweeteners? The overall sweetness was noted by nearly every taster, but opinions on it ranged. One taster compared the taste to something you’d find in the dental office, and one said it tasted like straight aspartame. Still, others said it wasn’t that bad. It was called "subtly sweet," and "not as artificial" as the others.
Made with: Sucralose
It was called "cloyingly sweet" by one taster, and reactions were mixed about whether it was overly artificial and "weird tasting," or "not that bad." It was a pretty neutral sugar for most of our tasters — better than some, but still not great. (One taster noted that she was surprised that her choice sweetener at the coffee shop, Splenda, was the one she ranked last. Goes to show that we don’t think much about our sweeteners in the moment.)
Made with: Stevia
The only sweetener that even came close to sugar, the natural sweetener, Truvia. While some lamented that it still tasted artificial — and "not natural at all" — it was deemed the least offensive of the sweeteners. One possible reason? It wasn’t overly sweet to our tasters. One even said it was "nutty," and another called it "weak." Compared to the others we tasted, which were so intensely sweet, that descriptor would kind of make sense.