eli5 Sugar free syrup.

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What the hell is in the bottle, and why does it have the consistency of snot?

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do you mean maple syrup or simple syrup? What specifically? It probably has sucralose or Ace-K (acesulfame potassium) or some artificial sweetner.

Water, Natural Flavors, Acesulfame Potassium, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (to preserve freshness), Sodium Benzoate (to preserve freshness), Xanthan Gum, Sucralose.

The snot is probably the Xanthan Gum, It’s created when sugar is fermented by a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. When sugar is fermented, it creates a broth or goo-like substance, which is made solid by adding an alcohol. It is then dried and turned into a powder.

It’s also used in…. Wallpaper glue, paints, Fungicides, herbicides and insecticides

Generally, there are 2 things that are sweet to humans. Sugar, and fake sugar. Sugar has a bunch of physical (and more specifically culinary) properties that make it such an important ingredient to syrup. The way certain kinds mix with water and then interact with other ingredients while heated is what makes normal syrup act the way it does. So while sugar is what is flavoring classic syrup, it is also what is making it sticky and otherwise acting like syrup.

The funny thing about fake sugar, though, is that it only really acts like sugar when it touches our taste buds. So it just doesn’t have the same culinary properties to act like syrup, and sugar free syrup is going to be different. We have figured out how to make similar liquids, such as using proteins to make water thick or using non-sugar carbs, but humans tend to be frustratingly good at noticing something being different with their food. And sometimes, the shelf life is bad enough that its texture becomes terrible instead of only weird.

Fortunately, fake sugar tends to incredibly sweet in comparison to sugar. [Aspartame](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame), a common enough one since the 80’s, is 200 times sweeter. This means that much less can be used, and the effect it actually has on the syrup is pretty small; they just need to create a liquid that acts like syrup and then flavor it instead of finding something that both acts like syrup and tastes sweet. (This is also why sugar free drink mixes take up so much less shelf space)