The Gummi Bear Cleanse: Attack of the Flamethrower Toting Murder Bears [Bad reactions to artificial sweeteners are so so funny]

by Charlotte on October 22, 2013 · 37 comments


Sugar substitutes are not my friend. From lab rat to gym rat, really they’re not anyone’s friend. And yet over the years I’ve ingested way more than my fair share. I remember one incident, remembered only to my roommates as The Day Licorice Died And Took Our Cleaning Deposit With It.

I was a young college co-ed, trying my darndest like all young co-eds in the 90′s to look smokin’ hot in my infantalizing baby doll dresses, ripped up jeans and decidedly unsexy combat boots. All of which involved A Diet. Every girl I knew was on one. And having a long relationship with Anorexia, I knew I could do A Diet too. I was great at diets! So after weeks of deprivation, I finally splurged some of my hard-earned waitress money on sugar-free licorice. I love licorice. My roommates all loved licorice! I hated calories. My roommates all hated calories!

So when I showed up on a Friday night with a jumbo bag of sugar-free licorice, it was party city. I could finally have my candy and eat it too! And all was rainbows and kittens… until I woke up in the middle of the night with what my friend affectionately termed “butt bubbles.” You know, the kind of gas that percolates in your bloated tummy until it finally pops out like so many helium balloons released at a wedding? Next came the “purple burps” which I’m still not sure why they’re so termed but I’m guessing it’s because they’re so noxious they emanate in an aubergine cloud? At last I felt the “Hershey squirts” coming and I’m quite sure I do not need to tell you how those got their name.

Grabbing my stomach, I darted into our only real bathroom to find one roommate already there, crouched on the toilet like a middle schooler trying to figure out which end of the tampon goes up. “I can’t get it to flush,” she whispered hoarsely, looking up at me with bloodshot eyes that told me she’d probably not even gone to sleep. “Because it WON’T STOP COMING OUT LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO TURN AND PUSH THE HANDLE.” As I stared, clutching my own stomach, she added, “Will you please flush my poo for me?”

I wanted to. Really I did. But in that moment I had to make a decision between my roommate and my pants so I did what any reasonable person who had just eaten licorice whips that put the SM in BDSM would do: I shoved her off the toilet. She hunkered in the bathtub while I took my turn, not even caring that she was staring at me like she was witnessing an exorcism. (Demon candy spirits be GONE!) Then we switched. And so it went for hours. I finally fell asleep on the befouled floor of the bathroom, she in the tub – both of us too scared to leave the 5-foot radius of safety around the toilet.

In the morning, I remember thinking how unfair this all was. Being LDS (Mormon) in college means there’s lots of stuff you can’t do but the one huge benefit is supposed to be never having to wake up on a bathroom floor with your bodily fluids crusted all over you! We had all the hangover and none of the drinking! Unless you count sugar alcohols. When we finally made it out of the bathroom – with the pact to never, ever speak of that night again (oops) – we found our third roommate in a similar position on the other toilet. Weirdly, the fourth girl who’d eaten the licorice didn’t have so much as a hicc-a-burp to show for it.

I’d honestly forgotten about that night (or had done a really good job at repressing it) until my mother sent me this Amazon listing for “Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears, 5 lbs”. “Just read the reviews,” she told me. My mom is the only other person I know who is as entertained by poop as I am so I had an idea of what was coming but nothing could have prepared me for the wondrous delight of other people’s sugar-substitute induced hell.

A few of my fave excerpts:

Rapture Me, Please Lord

“Literally nothing I’ve eaten in a dozen years could possibly turn my a** into a to-scale model of Mt. St. Helens, violently spewing what smells like a public bus filled with homeless people with fresh perms.”

Ack! Nothing is worse than the smell of FRESH PERMS!!! Although I have to say I’ve heard worse impetuses for a come-to-Jesus than gummi bears…

Delicious Cleanse!

“Next time I am scheduled for a colonoscopy, I plan to eat sugar free gummi bears instead of drinking that nasty magnesium citrate. The bears are delicious and the cleansing effect is the same!”

Now this is looking on the bright side! And she’s right – the crap they give you before a colonscopy almost tastes worse than all the crap that comes out of you. (And out of you and out of you and out….) I really think they’re on to something here!

Gastrointestinal Armageddon

“In retrospect, eating over a pound all at once wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve done (but it also wasn’t the dimmest). If I go back and finish the bag off, I’ll probably leave a suicide note.”

In retrospect, yeah. But I would totally have done the same.

Ideal Gift For Your Congressional Representatives

“I am sending a bag of these to every member of Congress to show my deepest gratitude for all their hard work.”

Buwhahahahahahhh *breath* hahahhahahaaaa. Best part was someone submitted a question to the seller asking if they could get 535 orders for congress and the company responded: “Sure. We would be happy to assist you with this order.”

Save Me

“What is occurring in my body right now may only be explained with the final 20 minutes of the movie Independence Day. The sweet gummy bears that I thought I had chewed and swallowed have now resurrected inside my bowels with a vengeance. The only thing that I can imagine they are doing is s***ting inside my digestive tract. Decomposed zombie gummy bear s***. This can’t be all my s***. There’s no way. That’s not my s***. That’s s*** from a supernatural entity living inside me”

This review was apparently written from the scene of the crime. Brilliant.

And then there was this one. I’m reprinting it in full because it made me laugh until I cried:

Just Don’t. Unless It’s a Gift For Someone You Hate

“First of all, for taste I would rate these a 5. So good. Soft, true-to-taste fruit flavors like the sugar variety…I was a happy camper.

BUT (or should I say BUTT), not long after eating about 20 of these all hell broke loose. I had a gastrointestinal experience like nothing I’ve ever imagined. Cramps, sweating, bloating beyond my worst nightmare. I’ve had food poisoning from some bad shellfish and that was almost like a skip in the park compared to what was going on inside me.

Then came the, uh, flatulence. Heavens to Murgatroyd, the sounds, like trumpets calling the demons back to Hell…the stench, like 1,000 rotten corpses vomited. I couldn’t stand to stay in one room for fear of succumbing to my own odors.

But wait; there’s more. What came out of me felt like someone tried to funnel Niagara Falls through a coffee straw. I swear my sphincters were screaming. It felt like my delicate starfish was a gaping maw projectile vomiting a torrential flood of toxic waste. 100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM. It was actually a bit humorous (for a nanosecond)as it was just beyond anything I could imagine possible.


I felt violated when it was over, which I think might have been sometime in the early morning of the next day. There was stuff coming out of me that I ate at my wedding in 2005.

I had FIVE POUNDS of these innocent-looking delicious-tasting HELLBEARS so I told a friend about what happened to me, thinking it HAD to be some type of sensitivity I had to the sugar substitute, and in spite of my warnings and graphic descriptions, she decided to take her chances and take them off my hands.

Silly woman. All of the same for her, and a phone call from her while on the toilet (because you kinda end up living in the bathroom for a spell) telling me she really wished she would have listened. I think she was crying.

Her sister was skeptical and suspected that we were exaggerating. She took them to work, since there was still 99% of a 5 pound bag left. She works for a construction company, where there are builders, roofers, house painters, landscapers, etc. Lots of people who generally have limited access to toilets on a given day. I can’t imagine where all of those poor men (and women) pooped that day. I keep envisioning men on roofs, crossing their legs and trying to decide if they can make it down the ladder, or if they should just jump.

If you order these, best of luck to you. And please, don’t post a video review during the aftershocks.”

With 195 reviews from customers all basically saying the same thing – although it’s about split between those who gave it 5 stars and those who gave it one star for it’s magically cleansing powers – there seems to be a consensus about the misery these cause. Curious, I checked out the nutrition label:


First: When’s the last time you saw a warning like that?! Points for honesty?

Second: What the crap (literally) is Lycasin? According to Wiki, “Lycasin is a trade name given by Roquette for hydrogenated glucose syrup (hydrolysed starch). One of the major components of Lycasin is maltitol, derived from the hydrogenation of maltose.” I’m pretty sure Malitol was what was in the licorice of ill repute.

Third: How is Amazon still selling this product?

Of course, sugar substitutes in general don’t have a great rep. From one of the more notable studies about the effects of diet soda on weight and diabetes. Bad news, diet Coke lovers:

“Researchers found that the diet soda drinkers had waist circumference increases of 70 percent greater than those who non-diet soda drinkers. And people who drank diet soda the most frequently — at least two diet sodas a day — had waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than people who didn’t drink any diet soda.”

500 percent greater?? Egads. While I haven’t had a soda in years – strangely that was one “vice” I never had a hard time giving up, I’ve never liked the stuff – I’m guessing it was the artificial sweeteners in the sodas that did all this damage. Further studies using artificially sweetened yogurt came to similar conclusions. The problem, of course, is replacing a natural substance in our diets with a chemical cocktail. That never ends well.

These days I try and stay away from fake anything. If want a treat, I try and have a real one (sugar and everything!) and try to stop when I’m sated.

Have any of you ever had a bad reaction to a sugar substitute? What happened? What’s your policy on artificial sweeteners?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Zahra October 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

Omg. Rolling on the floor laughing. Hilarious!!!


summer October 23, 2013 at 12:22 am

Hahahahahha!!!!! This might be my favorite post. I am literally laughing out loud. I did have an awful experience after a night of Christmas baking. A little taste here a little taste there of sugary goodness led me to a night of crawling to the bathroom. Fortunately the pain that night was enough that I haven’t done that again.


Terri October 23, 2013 at 2:12 am

I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe !

I’ve had a minor reaction, nothing like this.

Thanks for the laugh


Sue October 23, 2013 at 2:28 am

Oh my goodness, that’s the funniest post I’ve read in quite a while! I’m cracking up here.
I’ve always hated the taste of artificial sweateners, so no diet soda or sugar-free candy for me, thanks. One of my co-workers once had a similar reaction to those gummy bears, and that guy usually has an iron stomach! Those bears are scary!


Margot October 23, 2013 at 4:21 am

Best post ever
There is a good one on about public toilets and the comments there are also priceless.


Emily October 23, 2013 at 6:09 am

I’ve never had a bad reaction to artifical sweeteners..but I pretty much avoid them. I do drink them in small amounts in coffee, my preworkout, and the occasional diet pop or sugarfree redbull, but I don’t have any reaction minus bloating from the carbonation. I’d rather just have real sugar most of the time and save myself the hassle. As for weird sugarfree gummy candy, nope. I’m allergic to the dye, so when I buy gummies they have to have natural (fruit, vegetable) dye, which usually means they have corn syrup or sugar.


Naomi/Dragonmamma October 23, 2013 at 6:18 am

I also tried the licorice a long time ago; I think it was Red Sugar-free Twizzlers, but I’m not positive.
The effects are as you say, and I identified Maltitol on the ingredient list as being the guilty party. How this stuff is allowed to stay on the market I have no idea. Seems to me that if you left this candy out in an office candy bowl you could be charged with aggravated assault.


Melissa October 23, 2013 at 7:07 am

I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners in general. I used to drink my Diet Coke every day but gave them up when i started having daily headaches (turned out to an unrelated issue), but once i gave them up i couldn’t go back. Now if i want a soda i just have a full sugar one every so often and we use the home seltzer maker WITHOUT the syrups for everyday stuff. The heavy use of artificial sweeteners is one (of many) reasons I wouldn’t make it on a low-carb diet. I do try to minimize the straight white sugar, but it is definitely in my pantry.

I love gummi bears, don’t buy them because i SO will eat the bag, would always just put them in the occasional treat just give me the real sugar version, but I am still in awe of the 5 lb MEGA gummy bear….


Jill October 23, 2013 at 8:35 am

I seriously need to stop reading your blog while eating my breakfast!


Katie October 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

First – BEST.POST.EVER. I’m crying tears of laughter right now.

Oh how I love gummy anythings. I am actually on the fence about artificial sweeteners overall, but there are some that are definitely AWFUL and some that I can tolerate. I live alone (thankfully) but I’ve had similar experiences to your college story after eating malitol or aspartame. I avoid both like the deathly plague that they are. I can handle stevia and sucralose though. It’s all very interesting from a biology perspective, isn’t it?

The comments. I have to go back and read more!


JLVerde October 23, 2013 at 8:53 am

The only artificial sweeteners I’ve ever had are the Crystal light/drink type and they don’t affect me. I have a sensitive digestive tract (lactose intolerance has given me many a “poop emergency”) so I don’t even bother with the “sugar free” treats. I figure I’ve rolled the poo dice enough times with the lactose intolerance (and lost once a few times) that it’s best not to tempt fate.

The second worst poo experiences I’ve had (not including ones associated with legit illness like a stomach flu) was an allergic reaction to Lactaid pills. Something in them makes me violently sick from both ends. (now you’re curious about my worst, as in most embarrassing, poo story, huh? yeah, it’s a good one but best told in person. . .and what’s funny is, if you unburden yourself of a good poo story other folks will share there’s too).


Renée October 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

Oh my gosh, Charlotte! Thanks for the belly laugh this morning, it felt so nice :-)
I worked with a woman about 10 years ago who ate the sugar free candies, but always in micro-portions. Her husband got into them one day and despite her warnings, finished off the bag. From her description, it went much like your licorice event. I’d forgotten that until I read your post.
And yeah, I try to stay with non-diet foods as much as possible. We are bombarded by so many chemicals and toxins, why purposely add more.


Chelsea October 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

Ick. I knew a gal in college who had a similar response from eating a whole box of chocolate calcium chews. Not fun. As a normal weight diet soda drinker, I always feel like I have a problem with that interpretation of the diet soda – weight gain association. I think that it’s more likely that overweight people start drinking diet soda (it’s common advice to switch from regular to diet so you don’t drink your calories) than diet soda causing normal weight people to become fat.


Sam October 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Yeah, I always assume it’s a correlation/causation error, too.


Aurora October 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

My friend’s parents kept a certain kind of no-sugar chocolates in their house. I was like YAY I CAN EAT ALL OF THESE and, uh, it had a similar effect on me only without the hideous amounts of diarrhea. Even so, never again.


Melissa October 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

Fwiw, my guess for the “Diet Coke will make you fat” study is that the people who are genetically predisposed to thinness probably don’t develop the Diet Coke habit often. The people who are genetically predisposed to a larger body type are more likely to drink Diet Coke simply because they’re more likely to diet. So then Diet Coke gets correlated with weight gain and larger waists because the people who naturally come in that size are more likely to choose it than people who’re naturally thin.


JEff Stemmons October 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

This is both, unfortunate and hilarious. Then again, it’s all fun an games until someone gets hurt, then it’s hilarious, unless it’s you. Good thing you have such a good sense of humor about it. Might as well get a good laugh about it.


HappinessSavouredHot October 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

Seriously?!? :-)

Artificial sweeteners taste yucky (I can always tell), and real sugar/syrup/honey gives me headaches. There, problem solved.


Abby October 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Yeah, I’m like your 4th roommate. I have a super hardy stomach and artificial sweeteners don’t bother me. And I say that as someone who once ate an entire bag of sugar-free Twizzlers. They tasted kind of gross but that was the only problem. These days I don’t eat a lot of sugar-free products but I do like some Splenda in my coffee and that kind of thing.

I do agree with some of the other comments. I haven’t seen a study about diet soda yet that considered the subject’s natural body type. And that study looked at people after 10 years, right? Many people gain weight as they age. Maybe that’s just me trying to justify my normal diet Coke with dinner but I figure I have plenty of bigger things to worry about.


Nicole October 23, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Yep….it has happened to me. I was on a diet where I had to avoid sugar (not for weight-loss, just had to avoid actual sugar), and I found some sugar-free chocolate that was made with maltitol and tasted closer to real chocolate than anything I had had in months….I just ate 1 bar, and not like a huge, family sized bar, but about the size of a regular chocolate bar. The first thing I noticed w the farts…actually, the first thing my SISTER noticed were the farts. They were never ending death-farts. But I knew that farts could be a side-effect of artificial sweeteners, and naively thought that was as bad as it would get.
When I got home, I had to go to the bathroom quite badly. It was an unpleasant 10 minutes, but I was pretty sure that after 10 minutes on the toilet there was nothing else left to come out, and I could go to bed. Oh how wrong I was! Luckily, my bathroom is about 5 steps from my bed, because I was only able to get off the toilet for a max of 5 minutes at a time. Around midnight I started getting worried about dehydration (this stuff was pure liquid), and tried drinking some water. Big mistake! It literally felt like there was a direct line from my mouth to my butt. Any water I drank came right out the other end about 2 seconds later. At work the next day, I was terrified to eat or drink for fear it would set off the rear fire hydrant again. Luckily, when I caved around lunch time there were no further….incidents.I get stomach aches just thinking about maltitol now…


Health Tips October 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm

That is great information.It’s really great post.


Jess October 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Hahahahaha love that last review! And unfortunately have had my own experience. Back in the good ol’ high school days, I ate ice cream by containerfuls. One day my awesome boyfriend bought a half gallon of blue bunny yumminess and we ate all but about an inch in the bottom. I then headed off to my call center job and he went home. I had a four hour shift with one 15 minute break… He spent that entire time on his throne with his mom pushing magazines under the door. I somehow managed to get through my shift and immediately went home and looked at the carton to find ‘may cause laxative effects’ and threw the rest away. I may have cried a little… And then ran to the bathroom…


quix October 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I’m broken. All this post made me want is gummy bears (the sugared kind though :D). I don’t think I’ve ever been really sensitive to sugar substitutes, but now that I try to avoid fake stuff, I certainly don’t want to try it. :)


Lulu October 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Charlotte… How can you do this to me?? I am sitting in my campus cafeteria, alone and smack in front of a group of people, and I have tears down my eyes and ab sores worse than 45 minutes of tabata…

Brilliant! And the author of that long post was a genius!! Thanks for warning me about gummies with this humorous fable. I will be showing this to everyone I know :D


Heather Eats Almond Butter October 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I ate a bag of those very same gummi bears in a train station somewhere in Spain and then hopped on an overnight train to Barcelona. Hands down worst night of my life!

Amazon reviews – HILARIOUS.


caro October 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

fabulously funny post.

is it wrong of me to buy these for a “special” person in my office?!


Patricia October 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

One of the benefits of living in Canada (besides free health care, yay!) is these type of substitutes can’t be sold here. Same with those chips that made everyone in the states poop, couldn’t be sold here. And I’m glad, cause I totally would have tried them.


Jen October 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm

That last review made me laugh so hard I scared the dogs! Thank you :)


Lisa October 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Xylitol. I used it as a sweetener in the black bean cake. It was love at first bite. I ate about half of the cake. I spent a LOT of time on the toilet. Not to mention the LOVELY rash I had all over my thighs and part of my belly. That rash lasted for a few weeks! My policy on artificial sweeteners? I stay away from them…whether talking about Splenda variations or “tols” I stay far far away!


Michelle Trenholm October 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm

This is a really funny story! I’ve never once had a reaction to artificial sweetener and I probably ingest it 1-2 times per day. Maybe it was just too much at once for you? Too much of anything is bad!


Betty Baez October 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I just about died laughing! I’ve tried sugar substitutes a few times and I learned quickly that I love the REAL stuff and the damage is far worse …so pass me some sugar!


Jill A. October 24, 2013 at 9:17 am

I just got the best ab workout reading this post! Dying laughing over here!!

Thanks Charlotte! :)


Jim Thomas October 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

How crazy is that? A warning label for candy haha


Danielle October 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Holy crap I was reading this in class yesterday and had to leave because I couldn’t keep from laughing. Even after reentering, if I even started to think about it I would begin losing it again. Somehow anal eruptions are just too funny to handle.


Amalia October 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm


This explains way too much about the frozen yogurt I had the other day. *whispers in hushed tones* with sugar free gummies on top!!!!


Barbara Bennett January 13, 2014 at 9:19 am

I had a similar reaction about a year ago when I bought 2 bottles of artificially sweetened pancake syrup at a local specialty shop. I couldn’t wait to try some of the berry flavored topping on pancakes then very next day. Since I was so happy to find a syrup with limited calories, I poured a health dose of the berry concoction over my pancakes & thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful sweet flavor ……..until about an hour later I experienced the beginnings of what I can only describe as a miserable day of expanding waistline and noxious, noisy gas ! After wondering what the culprit was, I read the ingredients on the bottle of pancake syrup…..the first one being maltitol . I quickly googled the unfamiliar name & found out just how toxic it can be to those who ingest it ! I spent the rest of my Saturday running to the bathroom and regretting I’d ever bought the gas producing, toxic syrup !


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