My name is Siouxie (pronounced Susie). I’m a wife (married for over 32 years now), mother of 4, and grandmother to 4 scrummy niblets.
I started making my own gummy bears a few years ago. Mainly because I love the satisfying goodness that gummy bears provide, but I also have a long-term health condition called lipedema which has made it essential for me to control ingredients in my diet.
I spend time every day on a self-care routine to reduce inflammation and help my system manage and eliminate toxins. And I’ve logged thousands of hours on research along the way on non-toxic living, sustainability, health, and wellness, etc, which I’ve been blogging about since 2015.
I’m one of those people who reads every label because the consequences of ingesting certain ingredients just aren’t worth it (both short and long term).
Sugar is a big no for me. Artificial and chemical ingredients are something I avoid in my diet (and environment) wherever possible, and I try to stick to organic and non-gmo ingredients, preferably minimally processed. This is really why I started making my own gummy bears.
The options for a sugar-free gummy bear with all-natural ingredients are practically non-existent. When I make them, I know what’s in them and can feel good about eating them and giving them to my family and friends.
In 2020, I had a lot more free time, and I made lots more batches of gummy bears with various flavors and ingredients that I thought were keto-friendly and sugar-free.
And then, one day my husband casually suggested that we bring these to market. Like, market-market. What??
This was also when I discovered that making truly zero-sugar gummy bears is not as easy as I thought.
Let me explain…
A quick background on gummy bear making.
Regular gummy bears are pretty easy to make. You just need a base of sugar, sugar syrup (or corn syrup), and gelatin. These three ingredients combine to create that gummy texture people know and love. Add flavors and color, a bit of citric or malic acid, and voila! you have a gummy bear mixture. Use a dropper and fill your gummy bear mold, let them set up, and enjoy.
Turns out that without the sugar and the sugar syrup, this all goes to hell rather quickly.
My recipe was loosely modeled after a major “sugar-free” gummy bear brand that uses a syrup called IMO (Isomalto-oligosaccharide) which has been touted as a “keto-friendly” pre-biotic fiber that doesn’t get metabolized by the body. However, this is not true.
IMO tastes a lot like corn syrup, and it acts like corn syrup in making gummies, so my gummy bears had a great texture. Turns out that’s because IMO really is a lot like corn syrup and even reacts on blood glucose just like straight glucose. It’s also not actually a prebiotic fiber because there are no studies or documented results to back those claims about not being metabolized.
Well, in 2019, the FDA made it very clear what is and is not considered a pre-biotic fiber.
A true fiber is not metabolized by the body, and instead feeds the good bacteria in the gut or provides roughage and passes through the digestive tract without impact to blood glucose. The FDA also made it very clear that IMO is not a fiber.
We discovered all of this in 2020 whilst working out the recipe that we were thinking of bringing to market. Yikes!
That’s when I realized that even the one “sugar-free” gummy bear brand that had more natural ingredients was not actually sugar-free.
Because of this IMO issue, that same brand reformulated its recipe in 2021. Their new recipe now has 18g net carbs vs the earlier 3 or 4g net carbs claim that graced their bags.
This changed everything.
“I realized then that there are no truly sugar-free, no-impact gummy bears (including my own homemade recipe), and I felt kind of betrayed. And determined.”
I didn’t want to give up my gummy bears, so I set out to create a recipe that actually satisfied my sweet tooth and had the texture of the gummy candy I loved, but without sugar or sketchy ingredients.
Turns out that when you take away the sugar syrup, everything else falls apart. EVERYTHING.
So, we diligently researched each ingredient and went to work. We tried different gelatins, sweeteners, different ratios of moisture, and worked on the texture. A lot.
My friends and family were reluctant guinea pigs (in the beginning) as I offered them my weird-tasting samples, insisting they ignore the flavors and colors and just focus on whether we nailed the gummy texture.
We learned a lot about the darker side of the commercial food chain, and how to navigate it while maintaining our integrity. And my husband and I learned the science and the ins and outs of making gummy bears.
Around the 60-something batch, we developed a recipe with zero sugar and no sugar alcohols without the digestive explosions, and that actually tasted pretty good.
We taste-tested the hell out of our recipe with a variety of people, kids of all ages (including our very finicky grandson), dieters, and candy lovers.
Our family and friends are no longer reluctant and ask if we have any gummy bears on us whenever we’re out and about. I love that they love them as much as we do, and now I’m obsessed.
I wanted a truly sugar-free, zero impact gummy bear that was tasty enough for sugar fiends, but with ingredients that I could feed my kids and grandkids with zero guilt. And we’ve done it. Actually!
Finally, truly scrumptious, sugar-free gummy bears without the digestive nightmares or weird after-taste, made with natural sweeteners, organic natural flavors, and love.
We hope you love our Scrummy Gummy Bears as much as we do.