If you have young kids, you’re no doubt careful about what snacks and treats they eat at home. But everywhere else they go, their diet is pretty much out of your control. If you want to allow your kids occasional treats but still protect them from artificial dyes and sweeteners, Surf Sweets candies may be a good choice.
Too much sugar in anyone’s diet is a bad idea. And it’s a really bad idea for children with a developing weight problem. My best recommendation is to give your kids healthy foods, including lots of raw fruits and vegetables for snacks. But let’s face it, most of us want a little snack from time to time. And if your child is going to have a sweet snack, it’s way better to give them a healthier alternative than most of the candies on the market.
Worldwide, there’s growing concern over artificial sweeteners and synthetic food dyes. The following information is from a press release I received from Surf Sweets: In July of 2010, “European food and beverage manufacturers will be required to include a strong warning statement on products containing six synthetic dyes indicating their products ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.’ In the U.S., the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is urging the FDA to ban completely eight widely used food dyes that have been linked to behavior problems in children, specifically those with ADHD.”
Naturally, Surf Sweets is promoting this information because it doesn’t apply to their products. “Chicago area-based Surf Sweets® is one of the few candy companies in the United States that avoids using synthetic dyes or artificial flavors in any of its products, which was a primary goal of the brand when it was originally founded. All Surf Sweets products are Stage 2 Feingold-approved, meaning they are approved by The Feingold Association, a non-profit that publishes approved food lists to help people avoid certain synthetic food additives.”
When my own kids were young, I knew moms who almost religiously adhered to recommendations from the Feingold Association. Controlling the amount of food additives — especially dyes — their children ate made a dramatic difference in their children’s behavior. And Feingold was a leader in identifying the link between food additives and hyperactivity. So, I’m a believer (albeit through second-hand experience) that synthetic food dyes are a potential problem for many kids. And if Surf Sweets are Feingold-approved, that’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.
Unless you’re so young you never knew anything different (or really don’t want to know), you can’t avoid the increased “artificialization” of pre-packaged foods today. And one of the greatest culprits is synthetic food dyes. In 1955, according to FDA statistics cited by Surf Sweet, “the amount of food dye certified for use in 1955 was 12 milligrams per capita per day. In 2007, it was 59 mg per capita per day, or nearly five times as much.”
But Surf Sweets uses only natural food dyes. “Where most candy gets its color from synthetic dyes, Surf Sweets uses natural ingredients like black carrot juice concentrate and turmeric (from the ginger family) to color our candy,” says Bert Cohen. Cohen is president and founder of TruSweets, LLC.
But dyes aren’t the only culprit. Artificial sweeteners are also potentially hazardous. We hear an awful lot about high fructose corn syrup leading to obesity and diabetes. It’s ubiquitous, and nowhere more so than snacks and treats. Cohen adds, “And where most candy is sweetened with corn syrup, Surf Sweets candies are organically sweetened with real organic fruit juice and evaporated cane juice instead.”
Also of concern to many consumers, whether or not we’re parents, is the use of foods that have been genetically modified (GMOs). Surf Sweets are free of those, too. And, to my mind, that’s a very good thing. Of course, it’s also a nice touch that they also “provide 100% of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of antioxidant Vitamin C.”
I received a sampling of seven Surf Sweets treats (yes, this job has benefits), and though I’m not generally given to snacking on candy, I’ve been having fun writing this review.
Here are the treats I received (and which I am busily consuming out of my “duty” to accurate reporting).
- Gummy Bears
- Gummy Worms
- Organic Jelly Beans
- Sour Worms
- Organic Fruity Bears
- Gummy Swirls
- Sour Berry Bears
I very nearly wrote that my favorite is the Surf Sweets™ Sour Berry Bears. Then I tried another of their Gummy Swirls. Ooh. Delicious there, too. But the Gummy Worms were also a big hit with me. They were almost creamy; an odd description for Gummy Worms, I suppose, but accurate to my taste.
Everyone has their favorite as far as flavors, but mine has always been cherry. That holds true for me with Surf Sweets treats, too. Each treat I tried came in a variety pack. (If I had my choice, every pack would just contain the cherry treats.)
All of the treats except the Jelly Beans were of the “Gummy Bear” variety, in that they are jelly-like candies. Most also have a light dusting of sugar on them. For me, that’s overkill. I’d be content with just the sweetness of the treat itself.
I was initially willing to accept samples of Surf Sweets treats not only because of their natural food dyes and sweeteners, but also because the products use organic ingredients. Is every ingredient organic? Doesn’t appear that way. But between the seven products, several ingredients are organic; and every product’s main ingredient is organic.
There’s more good news about Surf Sweets, too. Surf Sweets treats are —
- Gluten free
- Dairy and casein free
- Allergy friendly (no wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish)
- Feingold approved
- Produced and packaged in a dedicated nut-free facility
- Four vegan options (Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, Sour Berry Bears, Sour Worms)
- Five vegetarian options (Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, Jelly Beans, Sour Berry Bears, Sour Worms)
Are they fattening? Not particularly. “Each 2.75-oz bag of Surf Sweets candies contains only 120-140 calories per serving depending on the variety.”
The suggested retail price for a 2.75 oz. bag is $1.99. You may well be able to find Surf Sweets treats in your local grocery store, as the company says, “They’re currently available in mainstream grocery and natural foods stores, online and at specialty retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
For those of you who are looking for healthier snack options for the Trick-or-Treaters in your neighborhood, watch your store shelves in October for the Surf Sweets Sour Worm Halloween Pack. Each package contains 20 individually wrapped treat packs of Surf Sweets Sour Worms. The suggested retail price is $4.99.
A final note from the company: “Unlike other candy brands, Surf Sweets proudly makes its products in the USA.” For more information visit the Surf Sweets website.
And a final note from your intrepid candy reviewer: Because I love chocolate, and I didn’t see that listed on any of the labels, I thought I’d be disappointed. But these are definitely yummy. I’ve just spoiled my dinner.
The Small Print
Blue Planet Green Living received a free sample of the product described in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.
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