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…
“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!
“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.”
“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.
AND IT WENT ON FOR HOURS.
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?