John Legend, Gisele, Bill Gates, Matt Damon have been backing a food manufacturing company that offers a whole new kind of candy. The company, Unreal Candy, uses ingredients that are non-GMO, and its offerings are saturated fat free and lower in sugar than traditional candy classics. One of the co-founders suggests that they’ve “reinvented America’s classic candies.” Adam Melones is a chef by training and he wanted to manipulate the ingredients of some traditional American candy favorites — a process called Progressive Cuisine or Molecular Gastronomy. The idea is to manipulate or transform a food item into a healthier version of itself. So the company focused on five U.S. brand favorites: M & M’s, Reese’s, Milky Way, Peanut M & M’s, and Snickers, and they removed all of the ingredients that they classified as “harmful.”
How did they decide which ingredients were considered harmful? They asked themselves which ingredients they would not feed to their own kids. The list they devised included chemical preservatives, trans fats, GMOs, artificial colors, corn syrup and emulsifiers. Those ingredients became the basis of their banned list. Specifically, Melones says that the sugar content in the candy already helps to preserve the food item, and prevent perishability. Corn syrup and preservatives are both added by most commercial candy manufacturers to nudge shelf life. Unreal uses milk from grass-fed cows, cocoa beans from Ecuador and Ghana, a Greenpeace-favored palm oil supplier from Brazil, real cane sugar, and a special formulation process makes these candy replacements a bit chewier, which helps with satisfaction and satiation, despite the missing saturated fat. The products are carried by 15,000 stores nationwide, including Target, Wegmans, Giant, Stop & Shop, Lucky and CVS. The Unreal candy products, bars and bags of individual candies, sell for a similar, but marginally higher price range, compared to the traditional candy counterparts. If you go to the website, you will find the term “unjunked” candy used quite prominently. So what do I think?
Look up the word “treat.” Here’s one definition that I found online: An event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure. Read that definition five times slowly. Then tell me if you are raising your kids with that consideration, or if you personally handle “fast food, processed sweet or high fat baked goods, soda” or other similar foods like treats. I think not. If you really examine your diet and lifestyle, and that of your kids, I think you will find that treats have become staples (you can look up that definition, too). So there’s no doubt that if you’re eating too many treats, a health expert like myself would prefer to see better-for-you ingredients. But it does not mean that those healthier ingredients make the food anything other than a treat. And that’s REALLY the point. This trend feeds off of the recent push to eat foods whose ingredient list is more recognizable. I thought that meant an apple, a banana, a handful of unprocessed nuts. But sure, swap out for so-called healthier candies. Just be clear that they are still to be handled like occasional, special food moments. The cleaner, more recognizable ingredient list does not change the nature of a candy bar……not ever.
Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch? Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103. Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.
Published On: August 12, 2013