Berry Sparx (click to enlarge)
Sparx is a new candy from a company called Xlear (pronounced “Clear” – don’t ask me how/why). What is interesting about it is that it is sweetened with Xylitol. When I first saw this, I figured it was some made-up ingredient like “Scope with T25″ or “Certs with Retsyn”, but in reading about it, Xylitol has been around since the 1950′s, and has been used in products in Europe (and especially Finland) for year, though I had never heard of it before this review.
So, a quick lesson in Xylitol before we get into the review…..”Pure Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. For commercial use, it is manufactured from xylan hemicellulose sources such as Birch trees, cane bagasse and corn cobs/stalks. It is the sweetest of the polyols with the same sweetness as sugar (sucrose) but with 40% fewer calories and none of the negative tooth decay or insulin release effects of sugar.” For lots more information on Xylitol, visit the Xlear webpage on Xylitol.
So, to sum it up, Sparx candy is sweetened with a sweetener that’s actually not bad for you. So, what are they? Sparx are fruit-flavored, bite size candies about the size of a Tart N Tiny (remember those?) and the center is similar to a SweetTart in consistency/texture. They come in three different 30g flavor tubes: Citrus, Berry, and Fruit. The flavors for each are as follows:
- Citrus: lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine
- Berry: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry
- Fruit: apple, banana, grape, and peach
This review only covers Citrus and Berry flavors. One of the interesting things about Xylitol is that it is supposed to produce a “cooling sensation” on the tongue and I could definitely feel this – it’s kind of weird. I think it would be a good feeling in a mint. As for the Sparx, the candy was as sweet tasting as any other candy, and the flavors were pretty tasty. The orange (or was it tangerine) reminded me of an orange Tic-Tac. The berry flavors were nice and strong too and very recognizable.
Overall they were pretty good, but something about them wasn’t quite right and I’m not sure what. I’m guessing it must be the Xylitol, since I don’t think I have ever had it before. They actually made me feel a little light-headed and nauseous. I tried them two different times and got the same efect both times. Maybe Xylitol doesn’t agree with my metabolism?
I did see this warning in one of Xylitol flyers:
Xylitol requires a brief period of tolerance adjustment. It may have a laxative effect when used in large quantities.
That doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling. The first time I tried them I ate quite a few – maybe….30? of them (they’re small) and felt sick, but I figured it was just coincidence. This last time I tried eight – one of each flavor from the two tubes and I started feeling sick again about 15 minutes later. Ugh. Because of this, I can’t recommend them to anyone. This weekend, I’ll get both of my sisters to try them and I’ll give you an update on what they thought and if it made them feel nauseous too. Maybe it’s just me.
UPDATE: I did a little bit of searching and found this article at allstarhealth.com that says this about Xylitol: ” Side Effects: May cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, flatulence, diarrhea) in some individuals, depending upon the amount consumed. These side effects usually diminish with continued use.” So, Xylitol must have a profound effect on me (nausea). Your results may vary. (Maybe I won’t give any to my sisters).
UPDATE2:I talked with one of the PR people from Xlear today and he said “I have been working with xylitol for two years, and your report of nausea is the first.” So, it could be that my case is quite rare. More on this once I get some Sparx to my sisters.