One Syrup, Hold the Sugar

Smucker’s Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup

Smucker’s Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup

I Paid: $2.59 for 14.5 ounces (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2 stars

Marketing: 1 stars

Like dairy-free milk, no-fat bacon, and vegan-friendly steak, the idea of sugar-free breakfast syrup sounds like a self-descriptive error. (“What’s wrong with this syrup? Oh, yeah, it doesn’t have any sugar.”)

Smucker’s Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup is powered by the magical touch of sorbitol, a slowly metabolized sugar alcohol, and acesulfame potassium (also known as Ace K), a substance with a slightly bitter aftertaste and a sweetness level that’s equivalent to aspartame. The result is an extremely light syrup that has a hollow aftertaste and leaves you wanting more flavor before you’ve even finished the bite you’re working on.

When I tasted it on pancakes side by side against pure maple syrup, sweetness wasn’t the only thing lacking in the Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup—it also lacks any depth of flavor and the rolling, soulful, woodsy multidimensional aftertaste that makes maple syrup so dang good. To be fair, this stuff is positioned more directly against generic sugar-based breakfast syrups, but even those have a consistent (and powerful) sticky sweetness sufficient to make a dry pancake taste moist and delicious, if one-dimensional.

So, good intentions aside, this artificially flavored stuff is hard to recommend from a flavor perspective. But for people who need to severely cut back on sugar for health reasons, it might be better than no syrup at all. And a quarter cup is only 25 calories. So … there’s always that.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.