Aspartame

I’m nothing if not unendingly questioning. Why? I don’t know. Haha.

Anyway. Without access to the internet at home and having started a fantastic new job that actually demands I work while at work, I run the risk of keeping these questions to myself and failing to express them (and so exorcise them somewhat) right here.

And so when a good friend of mine kindly links here everything looks a bit, well, dead. My name is Ben and it’s been 19 days since my last blog session. Time to open up.

I’ve always lugged sports drinks around with me to kick-abouts with friends because, generally, we play for hours and I get sugar-lows easy. Better to spend cash on over-marketed glucose than faint while attempting to run on to a whipped cross, no?

At the same time, I’ve always loathed the sugar substitutes that you find in many of these ‘healthy’ liquids. Specifically aspartame, though there’s now a new and equally horrid sweet chemical called acesulfame. Sometimes a drink has both, almost as if to reinforce the sans-sucrose goodness.

Generally you get sweeteners in Diet drinks. Diet Coke, Pepsi Max, that sort of thing. They’re also in Lucozade Sport and Powerade (though thankfully not regular Lucozade) although time was you could get a plentiful number of non-sweetened sports drinks. Gatorade still doesn’t have them in, and there used to be a great one called, I think, CLEAN or something like that.

Now, though, you’d be hard pressed to find any still sports drink in your average supermarket or drinks counter that isn’t loaded with man-made sweet stuff. What’s freaking me out, though, is that now even regular drinks have aspartame in them, making that disgusting fake taste a hidden and unexpected toungeshock.

Schweppes lemonade, for instance. What the balls is a sugar-substitute doing in a fizzy drink that has sugar in it? The blank impact of aspartame ruins a cold shandy.

It’s been over 20 years since Coke’s “Just for the taste of it” campaign, but it seems that with the rise of Diet Coke and Pepsi Max, what’s happening is aspartame is being added as a preferred flavouring, not just to avoid using sugar.

I could wax lyrical for hours about things I’ve half-read and slightly-understood regarding aspartame’s background – from being accused of causing illness to a supposed lack of rigour during food trials due to the product’s reported links with a Mr Rumsfeld. Obviously this is all conjecture. Sorry, that should be conjecture.

But whatever the long-term impacts (if there are any) of aspartame or the so-called improved substance acesulfame, the fact remains that to me they taste freakish, cotton-woolish, just plain disgusting. If this is a trend that’s set to continue, will I ever be able to buy a ‘real’ drink again?

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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