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Healthy candy is definitely an oxymoron

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POSTED October 30, 2009 2:49 a.m.
Claus Spreckels must be laughing his head off up there in Sugar Land.

Necco Wafers – the ultimate sugar high of childhoods past – is going natural.

Artificial flavors and colorings are history. They’ve been replaced with beet juice, purple cabbage, cocoa powder, and turmeric. If you want to know what turmeric is, you can often found it as a spice in curries.

This might lead you to believe they are healthy. Guess again. They’re still mostly sugar which is how they can still generate 16 calories for every three wafers.

So with all of the hullabaloo – and good press – Necco Wafer is getting for going natural they are still mostly empty calories.

So why ruin a good thing? They don’t taste any different so the conclusion one must reach is that they are healthier for you. Does that mean a roll of coin-like sugar is better for you than the artificial dyes used to give it specific colors and tastes?

We’ll never know thanks to the food police.

Candy should be candy. It shouldn’t be good for you. That’s the entire point. Now the folks that make Necco Wafers have muddied the water to appease the nutritional Nazis by using all natural ingredients including sugar. Well, if there was animal grease in Necco Wafers they could still call it all natural as well.

It is more than a tad misleading since one could argue what does the real damage is the sugar and not the artificial colorings.

But that is all beside the point. No one, but no one in their right mind believes candy is healthy. It’s not supposed to be that way. They are wicked little treats that kids crave and adults feel guilty about. If you think sneaking a carrot stick gives one the same joy as wolfing down a roll of Necco Wafers, then I have a stick of deep-fried tofu dipped in batter for you to chew on.

One of my daily vices is enjoying two rolls of five flavor Life Savers. They contain sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid plus natural and artificial favors topped off with red, yellow, and blue dyes.

I know exactly what it is – unadulterated sweetened sugar. You could claim to make it healthier, I guess, by dropping the artificial flavors and dye but at the end of the day it is still candy and it is anything but healthy.

Of course, the diet dictators would be in my face in about two seconds flat telling me that what I am downing is no good for me.

I know. But again, that’s the point.

Would it kill me to give them up? No. Do I view it as a treat? Yes.

Would I view carrot sticks as a treat? No, but then again about 50 percent of the calories I consume every day are fruit and vegetables.

In the overall scheme of things, switching to beat juice in Life Savers – assuming it doesn’t change the taste – wouldn’t be a big deal. But how does that make the sugar any healthier for you?

America is being stampeded into changing everything it does in the name of eating healthier. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn’t.

Sugar – in the case of Necco Wafers – is probably the real bad guy yet now the New England Confectionary Company that makes them is being treated like they’ve just come up with healthy candy. It’s an oxymoron.

How many parents will now think they’re giving their kids healthy treats when they’re still filling them up with sugar?

Again, nothing against candy as long as it is consumed in moderation. The real problem here is misleading people.

In that case Necco Wafers is in good company with the nutritional Nazis, food police, and diet dictators. All four are essentially feeding off people’s fears to modify behavior instead of pushing the surefire solution which is to enjoy everything in moderation.
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