Splenda appears to be perfectly safe and a good choice for an artificial sweetener for beverages. However, their advertising campaign is another example of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This no-calorie sweetener claims "Made from sugar, tastes like sugar, measures cup for cup like sugar, great for cooking and baking." I don't bake, but I thought it might be nice to have a little sugar to sprinkle on cereal or under-ripe fruit, if I could get the feel and taste of the real thing without any calories. So I bought a box of Splenda.

The first clue that I would be disappointed came when I picked up the box: the equivalent of a pound of sugar weighs about 2 ounces. Even though it may measure the same as sugar, it doesn't feel anything like it. It looks and feels like a box of tiny styrofoam packing material.

Other no-calorie sweeteners leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I was hoping this one wouldn't, since they promise that it tastes like sugar. But no, it has the same bitter aftertaste as the rest. Apparently only some people get this off-taste from artificial sweeteners, so it may taste fine to you.

I haven't tried baking with Splenda, but others report less than satisfactory results: cookies that stayed in doughy clumps, and a chocolate cake that bounced in the sink as it was thrown down the garbage disposal. Even if you like the results, no artificial sweetener turns a recipe that's mostly flour and butter into a "healthy" or low-calorie food. One of Splenda's own cake recipes has 310 calories per serving, and that's if you get 24 servings out of a 10" cake!

Splenda may be a good choice for sweetening your coffee or tea; the choice of artificial sweeteners is purely a matter of how they taste to you. But on its claims to look, taste, feel and cook like sugar, my verdict on Splenda is thumbs down.

Checked 8/9/05

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