Saturday, May 05, 2007


Mme Cyn has been doing rather well on her quest to become more Venus de Milo than Venus of Willendorf, but she does not find it easy. One of the things she has taken strictly off her list is sugar, and yet she suffers from a terrible sweet tooth. However, she has a rather small frock she wants to get into, so she has persevered.

Now, I have been very faithful – doing the exercises, swimming (nearly) everyday, hanging up the small frock on the closet door, and being extremely careful about whatever I put into my mouth. But still I need the occasional treat (as one does), and was delighted to find that my local supermarket carried Unikal’s Royal Treat Sugar-Free ice cream bar with chocolate and almonds. “How delightful!” I thought, and picked one up. Right on the front panel, next to the picture of a luscious, almond-studded, chocolate-coated ice cream bar was "Sugar Free" in big red letters. In smaller letters below the picture were the words “low fat” and “no added sugar”. Ah, not quite sugar free then. Fair enough – ice cream cannot be totally sugar free anyway, since milk and cream contain lactose. But as I am permitted a small amount of lactose in my diet and I’d certainly deserved a little something nice, I thought nothing of it.

So standing in line to check out, I happily unwrapped said bar, chuckling gleefully that I was about to have my first bite of ice cream in a terribly long time (Yes, I know it's rude to eat in the checkout line, but surely I couldn't just let it melt?). I bit into it. Not bad. Rather nice. It wasn’t quite as almond-studded as I’d been led to believe, but that was all right. A little false advertising can be forgiven. And then I started to read the ingredients list on the bottom of the packet. A big fat lie cannot be forgiven.

For down in the middle of the list of ingredients in this “sugar free” treat were the two little words fructose and glucose. High school chemistry was quite some time ago, but I can remember that these are monosaccharides, i.e. simple sugars. This was in addition to the naturally occurring lactose, of course, as neither chocolate nor almonds contain sugars, and if they did, they are merely trace amounts and would not have been listed separately. Sounds like added sugar to me.

Oh, wait. Perhaps what the manufacturers had meant to say was that there was no sucrose added; sucrose being the chemical name for sugar.

Sucrose per se was indeed absent from the list. However, as anyone who did high school chemistry and did all right in it can tell you, sucrose is a disaccharide, made up of – wait for it – fructose and glucose. So what, then, does “sugar free” mean to these people? That they will add sugar at no extra cost?

Unikal in Sharjah is going to get a terse little letter from a very cross and annoyed Mme Cyn. I was all set to enjoy a lovely choc ice and instead had to feed it to the Goat.
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