Shelf-stable sugar-free Jell-O cups

Shelf-stable sugar-free Jell-O cups

Not the worst dessert, but definitely not the best.

Between making a concerted effort to lose weight, and cutting dairy and gluten out of my diet, my dessert options have been very limited these days. One dessert I tried recently doesn't even really deserve the name "dessert." 

I bought these gelatin cups mostly because they were on sale for something like a dollar for a pack of four cups. The idea of a shelf-stable gelatin dessert is a bit off-putting to begin with. And as I examined the package I found that technically it wasn't a gelatin dessert, it was a "gel dessert." 
 
Mmm, gel!
 
I bought an assortment of orange, strawberry and cherry. The colors were remarkably similar. I had difficulty telling the difference between them. The same goes for the taste, really. They basically just tasted "fruity," but with a strong bitter aspartame tang. 
 
Mmm, aspartame!
 
Worse still, each gelatin cup had apparently oozed a bit of fluid. You had your plastic cup, and your cup-shaped lump of sugar-free gelatin, and then in between those two things was a layer of something with the color, flavor, and consistency of a bit of thick Crystal Light. 
 
This was unfortunate, to say the least. And unlike a lot of other foods where you might open the container to find a bit of liquid (sour cream, yogurt, pudding) you can't just stir it in quickly and pretend you never saw it.
 
It's probably best not to dwell overly long on the chemistry experiment required to make a gelatin dessert shelf-stable at room temperature. Truly we are living in the future, with foods such as these. I imagine that when the aliens dig up the remains of our culture a thousand years from now, they will boggle at the idea that people had any interest in a sugar-free room temperature gelatin dessert. And frankly, I think they have a good point.
 
On the up side, if you need to pack a lunch, these things are not only self-contained, you also don't need to worry about keeping them cool. You could also keep a bunch of them in your desk at work, to grab whenever you feel the urge to buy something out of the candy machine. Without any caffeine and negligible calories, they won't give you any kind of a lift in the mid-afternoon doldrums. But they are, quite literally, better than nothing.