Many people are allergic to or just plain don’t like artificial sweeteners. Generally, they can avoid consuming them by not buying diet candy or soda. Seagram’s ginger ale pulled a cruel trick on these people recently, though, by silently swapping some sucralose (Splenda) into their drinks. “Let’s see if they notice,” we imagine the folks at Seagram HQ saying. Well, they noticed.
Reader Joseph writes:
In the past couple of months, there’s been a stealthy little rebrand of Seagram’s ginger ale- it now advertises, on a small, dark-green flag, “25% fewer calories than regular ginger ales.”
What this means is, “We cut out some of the corn syrup and replaced it with sucralose.” Note that this isn’t a diet version: this is regular Seagram’s ginger ale, which has been the best (in a lot of serious ginger ale fan’s minds) for years. Nowhere on the packaging or promotion (that I’ve seen) does the company indicate that the formula has changed. Nowhere does it indicate that the product now contains an artifical sweetener.
In other news, the world has “serious ginger ale fans.”
This information is in the ingredient list, which people with serious food sensitivities or allergies know to check first. (One surprising place that Splenda has turned up lately? Diamond cocoa-dusted almonds.)
The sugar swap gives Seagram’s bragging rights that their ginger ale only has 100 calories per twelve-ounce serving, but at what cost? For many customers, that cost is “headaches.”
Seagram’s is leaving complaints up on their Facebook page, but not responding to them. A sampling:
Thanks for the headache! I’m really unhappy you didn’t clearly mark that you’re now using sucralose on the front of the package. I used to be able to look for the Splenda symbol (or the Nutrasweet symbol) to avoid the artificial sweeteners, and traditionally, companies have changed the color of their cans to indicate that something is diet, so I used to know what to look for. I made it through half the can before I felt the splenda headache coming on and discovered you’d changed your formula (though I should have noticed that it tasted different than it used to on my first sip).
The [addition] of sucralose to your product should be clearly marked. Adding it to a product that already contains high fructose corn syrup is idiotic – people either drink diet for their “health” or go with the traditional version for the taste. How is your product supposed to appeal to anyone? I’m pouring the rest of the bottle down the sink and sticking to other brands from now on.
Coca-Cola, owner of Seagram’s, should hire this customer as a consultant:
The new formula is gross. Why do this? If people want diet, they aren’t going to want corn syrup. If people don’t want diet, they aren’t going to be happy with sucralose aftertaste in their ginger ale. The Venn diagram for this product looks like an eight.
If you want to change the formula to something consumers want, swap out the high-fructose corn syrup for regular corn syrup, or cane sugar.