January 8, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Lollipops/Calorie Labeling

I know lollipops are pure sugar, but how many calories are in the average lollipop?

I guess [I'm mostly asking about] Blowpops and Tootsie Pops.

-- Angela Wilphit
(Location withheld)

Although lollipops only contain carbohydrates (they are free of fats and protein), they are not 100% sugar.

Blow Pops, for instance, contain 13 grams of sugar, but 17 grams of carbohydrate (the remaining four grams come from cornstarch.)

Let's answer your actual question, though.

Each gram of carbohydrate contains four calories, so some simple math (17 x 4) tells us that these lollipops provide 68 calories.

Not bad at all, considering that in the time it takes most people to finish a lollipop, they could have very well eaten 300 calories' worth of Skittles.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Since the Food & Drug Administration allows food companies to round calorie values, the Blow Pop nutrition facts label displays sixty calories per lollipop.

Mind you, the rules specifically mandate that food items with calorie values of fifty or higher express that number "to the nearest 10 calorie increment."

So, in reality, that nutrition label should be listing SEVENTY calories per lollipop!


Anonymous said...

You mentioned that 13 of the 17 grams of a lolipop come from sugar, while the remaining four carbohydrate grams come from dextrose. Isn't dextrose another word commonly used in the food industry for the sugar glucose (D-glucose)?

Andy Bellatti said...

Good catch.

I am my own editor, and sometimes things slip through my revisions.

The four remaining grams come from cornstarch, not dextrose.

I had originally written that paragraph listing all the sugars in parenthesis (in this case: "sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose"), and the end result was a mash-up of the old and new paragraphs.

Again, thank you for bringing that to my attention -- I will now make the (correct) edit.