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Kool-Aid Sugar Free Drink Mix Review - (All Flavors)

Updated Review Date: 06/04/2017
Original Review Date: 05/17/2011


         The taste of Kool-Aid is loved by millions of people and its sugar free variants are no exception. But how does sugar free Kool-Aid stack up in terms of overall product quality? Let's find out... For starters, it's a low calorie alternative to regular Kool-Aid sweetened with sugar and clocks in at only 5 calories per serving, which makes it competitive with other sugar free drinks on the market. Its absence of sugar but not sweetness also makes it a sensible choice for diabetics looking for a tasty drink or anyone that's watching their sugar intake. Sugar free Kool-Aid is also caffeine free and very low in sodium. Currently, the only sugar free flavors available are Tropical Punch, Cherry and Grape. So while there isn't a huge selection to choose from at least three of the classic flavors exist. Sugar Free Kool-Aid powdered drink mixes are only available in boxes of 6 count "On The Go" packets which flavors one 16 - 20oz. bottle of water. Unfortunately the 12-quart canister versions were discontinued back in late 2011 and had been sold out of the market by early 2013. But hey, at least we still have the On The Go packets and I've heard no chatter about those leaving the market anytime soon. Kool-Aid also has some sugar free liquid concentrates available, similar to MiO, but those will be covered in another upcoming review since they fall into an entirely different product category.
         With all that covered, let's take a look at the nutrition information, ingredients and the overall scorecard.

Nutrition Information for All Kool-Aid Sugar Free Drink Mixes

You'll find that all Kool-Aid sugar free powdered drink mixes have essentially the same basic nutritional information listed, and each 1g serving of powdered sugar free Kool-Aid mix (8oz. prepared) contains the following:

Calories: 0
Sodium: 5 to 10mg
Sugars: 0g
Carbohydrates: 0g
Total Fat: 0g
Vitamin C: 10% USRDA

Ingredients of All Kool-Aid Sugar Free Drink Mixes

The ingredients for all sugar free Kool-Aid powdered drink mixes are essentially the same except where noted below:

Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Calcium Phosphate, * Aspartame (sweetener), Acesulfame Potassium (sweetener), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Salt, Artificial Flavor and/or Natural Flavor. Various colorings depending on product (for example, Red 40 or Blue 1, but no more than 2 colorings per product). Note 1: Tropical Punch sugar free Kool-Aid also contains BHA (freshness preservative) and Modified Cornstarch.

*Special Note for Phenylketonurics: sugar free Kool-Aid does contain aspartame and therefore contains phenylalanine. A great alternative for those with PKU is unsweetened Kool-Aid, which you can add your own favorite sweetener to. Stop over to the Unsweetened Kool-Aid review for everything you'll need to make PKU friendly sugar free drinks.

The Scorecard for All Kool-Aid Sugar Free Drink Mixes

Based on a rating system of 4 total points, the three flavors of sugar free Kool-Aid reviewed today score as follows:

Taste: Great! All three flavors taste just like the regular sweetened versions to both taste testers and me. The mix of aspartame and acesulfame potassium does a great job together and none of us could detect a sweetener aftertaste in any of the flavors. (+1)

Packaging Waste: The exterior cardboard packaging for the On The Go packs is recyclable but the unnumbered interior foil-plastic packaging that actually holds the powdered mix may or may not be recyclable in your location. Because of that there's a 1/2 point deduction. On the positive side, at least the overall packaging is about as minimal as can be for these product types. (+.5)

Value: Sugar free Kool-Aid is quite cheap on average and it should be considering you only get 6 On The Go packets per box. Because pricing matches the quantity it gets a top score here. (+1)

Health Factor: There is nothing particularly unhealthy about sugar free Kool-Aid for the majority of the population but it does use aspartame which can be a problem for some individuals. If you have PKU then all sugar free Kool-Aid drink mixes should be avoided due to the phenlyanine content of aspartame. Since there are other sweeteners available that Kraft Foods could use which do not cut out this population segment, there is a .25 point deduction. In perusing the ingredients you may have noticed the maltodextrin content, but keep in mind it's a dietetically insignificant amount per 1g serving of the powdered Kool-Aid mix and about 5 times below the level where a beverage is no longer considered a "free food" in the food exchange system. The BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) used in the Tropical punch version as a preservative is a controversial chemical in large quantities, but definitely not in the amount present in the product, still I'd like to see a different preservative used in this particular flavor such as mixed tocopherols (vitamin E). (+.75)

Overall Rating: 3.25 out of 4. Not too shabby and definitely worth your time if you're switching from regular Kool-Aid or looking for a decent and convenient sugar free drink mix.




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