The Untold Truth Of Splenda

As you tear open that little yellow packet to shower your coffee with sugariness, note that more than 100 billion other folks have done the same thing, according to Splenda's website. For the past 50 years, artificial sweeteners have become a mainstay on restaurant tables, and a rainbow of multicolored packets has replaced the classic sugar bowls and pourable dispensers of yesteryear (via the Science History Institute).

What aroused our clear obsession for high-intensity sweeteners? The Mayo Clinic explains that artificial sweeteners became an attractive alternative to real sugar because they add virtually zero calories and you need a fraction of the powdery stuff to reach a powerful level of sweetness.

Per Saveur, the timeline goes like this: In 1897, it started with saccharin, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Forty years later, cyclamate (30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar) hit the scene dressed as pink packets of Sweet'N Low. Blue was the color in 1965 when aspartame proclaimed that it was 200 times sweeter than sugar. America took note and those blue packets replaced more than 1 billion pounds of sugar in the 1980s.

But what's the deal with Splenda? Let's learn more about this particular sweetener.

One misunderstanding and Splenda was born

Splenda brought sweetness to the world in 1992, but it was actually discovered by accident in 1976. While investigating a new compound made from sucrose and chlorine, British researchers asked a young scientist to "test" the new substance, dubbed sucralose. He heard "taste" and proceeded to lick his fingers, uncovering the fact that the compound was deliciously sweet (via Healthline). Six hundred times sweeter than sugar (per the FDA), sucralose was born.

While other artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, Splenda is a blend of sucralose and other digestible sweeteners, like maltodextrin and dextrose, so it's not devoid of all calories (via Foodbeast). Sucralose itself is calorie-free, but those added sugars bring the calories up to 3.36 calories per gram (per Healthline), which is still negligible compared to table sugar. Also unlike other artificial sweeteners, Splenda is heat-stable up to 450 degrees, which means you can bake with it (via Medical News Today).

The latest colorful packet to hit the market is Splenda Stevia, a no-calorie sweetener made with stevia leaf extract and erythritol, which is made primarily from dextrose (via Splenda's website). Thanks to the intensity of its sweetness and ability to replace sugar when cooking, Splenda is currently the most widely consumed sugar substitute on the market (via Saveur).