Sugar-free candy has undergone a real revolution in the last few years. Although the old school, chemical-tasting sugar free candies are still in abundance, many candy manufacturers are bringing new, reformulated sugar-free versions of their candy to market.
Jolly Rancher Sugar Free Hard Candy
I actually like these better than the original.
The cynics in the audience may mutter that the candy companies are simply capitalizing on a market share that they created in the first place: overweight Americans suffering from Type II diabetes. In the same way that companies like R.J. Reynolds also produce smoking cessation aids like nicotine gum and nicotine patches.
I am unable to counter these charges, except to say, "Yes, and?" The world keeps on spinning, you know?
Aside from the shape, I would be hard put to tell the difference between a regular and a sugar free Jolly Rancher. That's a real feat, if you think about it. Imagine a diet soda so convincing that you couldn't tell it from the real thing. We're not there yet (although diet soda taste has improved, witness Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Dr Pepper, and Coke Zero).
Obviously, the overwhelmingly "loud" flavor of Jolly Ranchers lends itself to camouflaging a wide variety of taste issues. If pressed, the only real difference I notice is that the sugar free Jolly Ranchers are less sticky-sweet. In other words, I actually think these are better than the real thing.
The shape is a real oddity. Was someone at Jolly Ranchers HQ concerned that people would start sneaking sugar free candies into the regular Jolly Rancher bowl? Why make the shape so very different? It's kind of a puzzle, if you think about it.
But once again, as with the flavor, I prefer the shape of the sugar free version. They are oval in shape, with rounded edges all around. Like a cough drop, basically, without any sharp corners or edges to catch the roof of your mouth unawares.
These come in the four original flavors: watermelon, grape, green apple, and raspberry. All of the flavors are bright and true to the originals. I particularly like the watermelon, which has a fresh, clean taste. It's as if the sugar was weighing it down in the original version.
These candies are sugar free thanks to the use of isomalt, polygucitol syrup and acesulfame potassium (a.k.a. Ace K). There may be some health concerns regarding these chemicals, so you probably shouldn't eat 10,000 sugar free Jolly Ranchers a day.