Aspartame’s Popularity: The Blue Packet Sweet Success Story

Although discovered in 1965, the calorie-free sweetener Aspartame became popular in the U.S. in the 1980’s.  Today it is found in thousands of foods, but most commonly found on tabletops in little blue packets.

Unique among sweeteners, Aspartame is digested as a protein.  It is completely broken down by the body into its components including amino acids, aspartic acid and other chemicals that are actually found naturally in many fruits, vegetables and dairy products. 

And like its sister products, Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, making it one of the most ubiquitous and well-accepted low-calorie products in the world. It has only four calories per gram, and is used in much smaller quantities to attain high sweetness levels. NJ Blue

Marketed by Sugar Foods N®Joy in the little blue packet, Aspartame has a taste that is most like sugar and contains the special ability to strengthen and even extend fruit flavors.  It is often found in cherry and orange low-calorie beverages, and an essential sweetener in flavored chewing gum where it can increase the sweetness four times longer than sugar-sweetened gum.  That’s added taste with no danger of tooth decay.

Aspartame is another in a list of low-calorie sweeteners promoted for those with diabetes, because it can be used in foods and beverages without affecting blood sugar levels.  It also helps diabetics control their weight while still being able to enjoy sweetness in their foods. Similarly, it is the choice of obese people in need of managing their calorie intake and is often prescribed along with regular physical activity and portion-control to reduce one’s weight.

Because Aspartame breaks down under severe heat, it is best used in cool or no bake/no heat recipes.  With summer approaching, here’s a recipe for a favorite hot weather treat made with Aspartame instead of sugar:

Frozen Pops

(Adjust the recipe based on number servings)

4-serving-size pkg. sugar-free instant chocolate or chocolate fudge pudding mix (with Aspartame)
2 cups fat-free milk
1 – 4-serving-size pkg. sugar-free instant banana cream, butterscotch, pistachio, vanilla, or white chocolate pudding mix

2 cups fat-free milk

Directions

Place sixteen 3-ounce disposable plastic drink cups in a baking pan; set aside.

Put the chocolate pudding mix into a medium mixing bowl. Add 2 cups milk. Use a wire whisk or rotary beater to beat the pudding for 2 minutes or until well mixed. Spoon about 2 tablespoons pudding into each cup. Cover cups with a piece of foil. Freeze for 1 hour.

Place desired flavor pudding mix in another medium bowl. Add 2 cups milk. Use a wire whisk or rotary beater to beat the pudding for 2 minutes or until well mixed. Remove pudding-filled cups from freezer; uncover. Spoon 2 tablespoons of second flavor of pudding over frozen pudding in cups.

Cover each cup with foil. Make a small hole in center of foil with the sharp knife. Push a wooden stick through the hole and into the top layer of pudding in the cup. Put the baking pan in the freezer. Freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until pudding pops are firm. Remove from freezer. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Remove pudding pops from the cups.

Makes 16 pops.

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