Low-Sugar S'mores Iced Latte
With gooey & decadent black chocolate drizzle and a thick layer of creamy French Vanilla, just one sip of this iced latte will transport you to the campfire.
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A revolutionary product was introduced to the American market in 1950: Mocha Mix Coffee Creamer.
It was the world’s first non-dairy creamer, and it gave coffee drinkers their first real alternative to milk and cream. About ten years later, it was joined in supermarkets by similar products like Coffee-Mate, and by Coffee Rich, the first liquid non-dairy creamer.
Over the following decades, non-dairy creamers became ubiquitous in offices, coffee shops and homes. Coffee creamers were easy to use and didn’t require refrigeration; when diet creamers hit the market a short time later, a wealth of no-calorie and low-calorie milk options provided consumers with even more choice.
That’s the way things stayed until 1987, when a subsidiary of Dean Foods changed the landscape with what it called the world’s first flavored liquid non-dairy coffee creamer: International Delight. That eventually paved the way for companies to produce and sell creamers that were intended to do more than just substitute for milk.
One of those “new wave” creamers, Super Creamer, was created to provide a healthier alternative that was ideal for those on low-carb diets. It’s relatively new to the market, but is already making its mark in the industry.
International Delight and Super Creamer are very different coffee creamers, but they each perform the same general function. Which is “better?”
Let’s dig into the pros and cons of each.
International Delight, at first, was only available in three flavors and in single-serve containers.
But with success, came variety. Today, the company offers around two dozen different variations on its coffee creamer, selling it directly to consumers through retailers, and to supermarkets and restaurants on the wholesale level.
International Delight remains a lactose-free non-dairy creamer today. It does contain sodium caseinate, however; that’s a milk derivative sometimes called “milk protein,” but it’s not a source of lactose. So this creamer is not vegan, because it’s not considered dairy-free – and believe it or not, non-dairy and dairy free really are two different food industry terms.
Sodium caseinate is used in many other products ranging from protein supplements and meal replacement bars, to baked goods and processed cheese. It’s generally safe to consume, except for those with milk protein allergies.
What about International Delight creamer’s other ingredients? They’re all “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, but some people may have objections to them. The thickener carrageenan, for instance, is quite controversial because some studies have linked it to bloating and digestive issues, and a few claim it can cause inflammatory diseases. For those reasons, carrageenan is no longer allowed in any products that are certified organic.
There are other FDA-approved additives in International Delight, like dipotassium phosphate and sodium stearoyl lactate, and the creamer contains artificial flavorings as well. Those who prefer food and ingredients that are all-natural might have issues with those additives.
Now we get to the “most important” ingredients that most producers put into their coffee creamers: oil and sugar. They’re added, of course, to make the products sweet and creamy.
International Delight, to its credit, uses palm oil instead of the hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils often found in creamers. If you’re not sure what the difference is, hydrogenated oil is simply a different word for “trans fat,” the stuff that can cause cholesterol problems and heart disease. Artificial trans fats are banned in America, but the “natural ones” aren’t.
Let’s be clear, though. Even though palm oil is a relatively-healthy oil, it’s still high in saturated and total fat, it contains lots of calories, and it may raise LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels. Unless you’re on a keto diet, you may not want to add oil to your cup of coffee – and there are healthier oils, like MCT oil, to use in that case.
That’s the fat; let’s get to the sugar. Sugar in coffee is a time-honored tradition, of course, and International Delight uses cane sugar instead of possibly-unhealthy artificial sweeteners. Sugar has a downside, though: lots of calories and carbohydrates.
The numbers vary depending on flavor, but most International Delight varieties contain about 6 grams of carbs (all net carbs, no dietary fiber) and 35-45 calories per serving. If you haven’t guessed, that’s a lot; the added sugar in just one tablespoon is 10% of the recommended daily value for adults. The company’s sugar free versions are better when it comes to carbs (just one gram), but they still contain 20-30 calories each, along with a lot more artificial ingredients. These nutrition facts are all based on a serving size of one tablespoon.
International Delight doesn’t market its products based on its ingredients or health benefits (or lack of them). It relies on the taste of its creamers and its huge lineup of very popular flavors.
Eight of them have been available for many years: French vanilla, hazelnut, caramel macchiato, Irish crème, white chocolate mocha, white chocolate raspberry, southern butter pecan, and amaretto. International Delight French vanilla coffee creamer is the company’s most popular product, and International Delight hazelnut coffee creamer is the runner-up. Several flavors (including both French vanilla and hazelnut) are sold in zero-sugar versions as well.
They also sell a line of creamers produced in conjunction with the makers of other popular products. The interesting flavor options include Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles, Almond Joy, Hershey’s chocolate caramel, Cinnabon and Cold Stone Creamery Sweet Cream. Other flavors like vanilla cannoli crème latte come and go, and there are seasonal offerings like pumpkin pie spice, frosted sugar cookie and peppermint mocha. International Delight also sells a line of flavored iced coffees.
All of these products are sold in bottled form (in sizes from 16 fluid ounces to 32 fl. oz.); many are also available in single-serve containers. All are lactose-free and gluten-free; some flavors are non-GMO but others aren’t, because they contain mono and diglycerides of fatty acids. None of International Delight’s creamers have to be refrigerated.
Super Coffee is one of the new kids on the block, founded in 2018 after the founders’ appearance on the show Shark Tank. At first, the company focused on ready-to-drink keto-friendly coffee, which contains MCT oil and sweetened with zero-carb, zero-calorie monk fruit extract. But its rapid success led to the creation of several other product lines, including Super Creamer. Just as with Super Coffee, the focus is on health and wellness as much as it is on taste.
Actually, what’s more important is what’s not in Super Creamer. There’s no sugar of any kind, only the same zero-carb monk fruit extract used in Super Coffee. (Even other “healthy” creamers like the ones from Califia Farms include carb-heavy cane sugar.)
There’s no unhealthy fat of any kind in there either, just healthy MCT oil derived from coconuts (which helps keto dieters with their fat burning). There’s no generic “natural and artificial flavors” category, just natural flavors specific to the flavor of the creamer. And there are no fillers or artificial preservatives with long and unfamiliar names, healthy or otherwise.
OK, so what else is in this creamer? There’s purified water, and (depending on the flavor) a few all-natural, healthy additives that contribute added health benefits like pea protein, calcium carbonate and potassium phosphate. Some flavors contain milk protein isolate instead of pea protein, which means those flavors aren’t dairy-free or vegan, even though they’re non-dairy).
As you might guess from the ingredients, the nutrition facts for Super Creamer won’t make you cringe. A serving size of three tablespoons (not one tablespoon like International Delight) contains between 15-30 calories, 1-3 grams of fat, and zero total carbohydrates. If you’re on any type of diet – not just keto or another form of low-carb eating plan – the creamer is about as close to ideal as you can find.
Super Creamer doesn’t come in novelty flavors. There are seven very tasty ones, however: original, French vanilla, caramel, coconut mocha, hazelnut, vanilla and sweet cream. They’re sold in 26 fluid ounce cartons, and must be refrigerated after opening. The product is lactose-free, gluten-free and non-GMO.
If you just want your coffee to taste yummy and don’t care what you pour into it, you might prefer International Delight’s products.
They certainly taste good, and some of the flavors (Fruity Pebbles?!) are ones you certainly won’t find anywhere else. (If you’re craving Starbucks but don’t have the time to run out, the International Delight caramel macchiato coffee creamer will let you come pretty close to the $5 variety.) Some coffee drinkers are so addicted to the company’s products that they actually join the International Delight “Creamer Nation” for discounts and promo offers.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a creamer that’s much healthier and still tastes delicious, Super Creamer wins the battle. Their “original” flavor is sweet and creamy; the other flavors use all-natural ingredients to deliver tastes that don’t disappoint. Maybe you can’t buy a Super Creamer that tastes just like a Cinnabon roll – but you can’t use any International Delight creamer without adding loads of sugar, carbs and fat to your diet.
Bottom line: if you want to add a ton of sugar, carbs and fat to your diet, it makes more sense to do it by enjoying a Cinnabon treat or an Almond Joy, rather than a tablespoon of coffee creamer.
Published: April 1, 2021
Last Updated: August 24, 2021
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