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What’s really in those Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai with Blueberry sweets?

dark chocolate acai berryI have a confession to make: I love these Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai with Blueberry sweets. If there was any doubt about the addictive nature of sugar, fat and chocolate, you only need to eat a few of these to know the truth. They’re pretty much the essence of compulsion.

When I bought them in the shop I checked the ingredients list to make sure they were gluten-free, and to check for other nasty chemical ingredients. They looked good – no weird stuff, just the usual soy lecithin and whatnot that is in most chocolates and processed food. I started gobbling them down at night. Mama’s little treat, shall we say. And eventually I realized that they are not quite what they seem.

A Closer Look at Brookside’s Dark Chocolate Acai Ingredients List

After eating so many of them that the inside of my mouth was a little bit raw from sucking the chocolate off the gummy candy inside, (What, you thought that these were actually chocolate covered berries? Look at the packaging again.) I noticed that I felt really, really crappy. I felt like I’d just been glutened, actually. Sore, achy joints, tingling in my fingers, headaches and grouchiness.

These sweets are a classic example of the power of deceptive marketing. They look healthy, and even the ingredient list has been artfully crafted to give a healthier image than you’d actually get if they didn’t employ some clever tricks like using 4 different kinds of sugars and 8 different kinds of juices. I highly suspect there are ingredients in the sweets that are not actually on the ingredient listing, but without expensive testing there’s no way to know for sure. Anyway, if there is gluten in them, Hershey is covered by their “May Contain Wheat, Peanuts, and/or other nuts.” disclaimer. Maybe I just felt crappy because I’d overdosed on sugar. But if there are unlabelled ingredients in them, they’d be in good company: apparently 30% of foods being sold in the UK are mislabeled.

Yuck. Yet another reason to avoid processed food, no matter how healthy it appears to be.

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{ 28 comments… add one }

  • erin perry February 20, 2014, 10:09 am

    i am often skeptical too, great that you checked! i am unhappy with so much food that is proclaimed to be “super food” coming in small pre-measured plastic packaging too. Goji berries, hemp hearts to name two more.

  • justme April 24, 2014, 1:44 pm

    So even though it states on the package that 1 serving contains 100mg of flavanol antioxidants, that’s not true?

    • michelle April 25, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I have no reason to believe that isn’t true. But just because it has flavanol antioxidants doesn’t mean it’s a healthy treat – it’s also packed with all kinds of sugar.

  • Candace May 4, 2014, 1:58 pm

    So I landed on your blog post after I searched if Brookside chocolate is gluten free. I experienced the same as you- I feel glutened. My 8yo was begging for a bag after he had a sample at the grocery store. I quickly scanned the ingredients and nothing stood out as containing gluten, so we got a bag…I’m so bummed because these little things are awesome! I’m suspecting the “natural flavors” and “modified food starch.” I’d love to know exactly what kind of food starch it is! Thanks for your post, at least I know I’m not alone.

    • michelle May 4, 2014, 10:07 pm

      Well, at least we’re not alone! Sometimes I wonder whether other things trigger gluten-like symptoms for me, whether there are more additives or other things I might be sensitive to. It’s such a journey to figure this all out…

  • Rachael June 8, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Hi,
    I came across your website just like everyone else when searching to find if their product is gluten free. I did note on the ingredients list however Maltodextrin, which can be produced from corn and rice, but also from gluten ingredients. I tend to just stay away from anything with it now! It seems to be the secret glutenizer for me

    • michelle June 11, 2014, 3:17 pm

      Yeah, the maltodextrin is suspicious for sure. I’m starting to accept that most processed things are risky for me, even if they are certified gluten free.

  • carolyn July 9, 2014, 11:51 am

    A store here had them as samples. I mentioned that the center wasn’t actually a blueberry. She said” yes they are, the center is a blueberry from South America.” I said no they are a gummy candy. she tried to backtrack, but to no avail.

  • Sharon August 6, 2014, 5:58 pm

    I also love (d) these candies. After having them numerous, different times I regretfully admitted they were the cause of my discomfort because of my gluten sensitivity. Decided it just wasn’t worth it for the pain that resulted

  • Amy October 13, 2014, 7:45 pm

    I did not find any claims that these are gluten free. My suspicion is that the natural flavor may be malt flavoring which contains gluten (but not wheat).

  • Julie February 19, 2015, 12:15 pm

    I too feel weird after eating these – I even bought a HUGE bag at Amazon.
    I am not sensitive to Gluten and I don’t eat that many but after eating any amount causes stomach aches later in the day. no good! but they are SO good I wish they weren’t bad. I’ll stick to organic dark chocolate no gummies! I hate gummies anyway. that must be it. THANKS glad I am also not alone.

  • Joel February 26, 2015, 7:56 am

    I am so glad I found your blog. My wife and daughter are celiacs and I just picked up a bag because they looked great and healthy too. Now – they are not going anywhere near the ones I love. Too bad.

    • michelle February 28, 2015, 10:48 am

      Yes, too bad. I’m glad that sharing my experience can help others avoid a food reaction though!

  • D March 4, 2015, 3:20 pm

    When they first came out I thought they were dried whole fruit covered in chocolate. I don’t really care for chocolate and fruit together, except maybe for fresh strawberries. Brookside products are garbage, no better then chocolate covered gummies of any shape.
    Shame on them for marketing them as being good for you in any way. I just saw a commercial for them a minute ago. This is junk, don’t buy into their marketing garbage, be sure to read labels on what you buy.

  • Karen April 9, 2015, 2:37 pm

    I just googled “why do brookside chocolates make me so sleepy?” and now I see I’m not the only one. I feel awful after eating them. Out of curiosity, I’ve tried eating just three or four but even a small amount causes a notable reaction, like a tiny bit of anesthesia. Weird. All us celiac disease folks had better steer clear.

  • Jeri June 3, 2015, 9:19 pm

    Very interesting. I too discovered these treats and I was instantly hooked. I can easily eat most of a bag because they are so tasty. However a few months ago I started to develop strange symptoms such as brain fog, headaches, fatigue etc. I do not have celiac disease but I have been trying to maintain a gluten free diet for the health benefits. When I refrained from eating them for a few weeks my symptoms disappeared. Is it possible that there is hidden gluten in there? It certainly doesn’t indicate that anywhere on the bag. I am sad to give up these treats but I do believe they are making me ill.

  • Ben J June 10, 2015, 12:48 pm

    I was simply looking for the ingredients and percentages in these wonderful candies, when I saw your posts. I’m learning to be a little more picky about what I eat only from the point of starting some moderation, not elimination in my diet.

    I have no food allergies.

    My questions is how could anyone buy and subsequently eat these and even begin to think they would be healthy.

    If you have food allergies or sensitivities you should just be more careful in what you buy.

    Don’t knock the candy; DON’T BUY IT.

    I’m allergic to mold spores so I’m not going to too much wandering into historic houses.

  • Cindy October 9, 2015, 7:26 am

    I noticed a while back that one of the oils was canola oil. Not sure if this is still the case. However, canola oil is not recognized by the human body as food. Cannot eat these anymore.

  • Cayla October 9, 2015, 7:30 pm

    Despite having a gluten intolerance… I’m definitely going to continue to eat them. They’re too good to pass up. Why give up something because of a mild discomfort. Exercise makes me uncomfortable, doesn’t mean I’ll stop !
    :)

  • Bukola October 14, 2015, 2:17 pm

    I had a small bag and it instantly gave me gas. I also felt super bloated. The crazy part is, the bag only comes with about 5 or 6 pieces in it. Never again!!! smh

  • E-Ching Chiu October 16, 2015, 2:21 pm

    It bothers me how little acai is actually in this product. I was gifted a bag and was very disappointed. Very deceptive marketing – huge turn off.

  • phillymax January 11, 2016, 7:41 am

    I actually typed the key words ” Brookside candy addictive” and reached your blog. I have been buying the Goji and Raspberry dark chocolates and once I start eating them I can’t stop!!! I keep going back to the bag for more. It’s an unnatural reaction as opposed to anything else I eat. Something strange is in these candies. I have a bag on my desk right now and I know if I eat one ,I’m done. Putting it in the closet!!!!!!

    • michelle January 11, 2016, 2:17 pm

      Yep, it’s a bit bizarre. Even when I was eating them and noticing that I felt awful, I kept eating them. I never buy them anymore…

  • Jeano January 14, 2016, 2:59 pm

    I know im so late to this post but,man..Wow! i started eating these delicious candies back in nov of last year to the present day. after having them,i notice i would feel full and cramping in my stomach.also when eating them-as the chocolate melts away, the “Fruit” on the inside actually has a very similar taste to sourpatch candy.this in turn ruined my craving for the treat,and i don’t think i will be purchasing them again anytime soon.

  • Edwin January 25, 2016, 4:55 am

    I have been attempting to eat gluten free for over 3 yrs. now and have even lost most of my gut. I have had stomach issues for all of my life and am also lactose free. For me, eating Gluten free started after eating a slice of pizza and taking my Lactaid pills. After having positive results with Lactaid (I still use Lactaid products), I found that eating pizza gave me immediate stomach issues including bloating. My research should that it may be the gluten so I went gluten free and within two weeks felt so good that I recommend it to others with these stomach issues.
    After reading the above comments, I went to the Hersey site as follows: https://www.thehersheycompany.com/our…/gluten-Free-products.aspx, which indicates all their Gluten free products and how the FDA has given them the seal of approval. We must all understand that all products stating that they are “Gluten Free”, may still contain minute amounts of Gluten as per the FDA. However, if you are that sensitive then this may still bother you. I trust Hersey who have been around for ever and don’t believe such a well known company would attempt to fool us. They have too much to loose and it would not be in their best interest. Yes, I do love the Brookside chocolates and have not been bothered by them so far, but I also don’t eat a half a bag of them at one sitting. Remember, too much of anything is never good!! Good Luck. Ed

  • Amber February 15, 2016, 9:07 am

    I just purched a brookside product and the whole time i was in love. But i also purched a dove product similar so i was a little disappointed to find that dove is made of real fruit and brookside is made of a fruit filling. I love this product and will continue to buy just not as often. It would be great if brookside used real fruits sometime in the future. Just a thought from an inspiring customer. :)

  • Sherry March 25, 2016, 9:36 am

    I emailed the company. Not only are they not real fruit, but they also contain GMO foods. Here’s their reply to me:

    Dear Consumer,

    Thank you for contacting The Hershey Company regarding our BROOKSIDE product line.

    With regard to your inquiry, we offer several different products such as:

    BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate with Acai and Blueberry Flavors
    BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate and Fruit Flavors
    BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate with Goji and Raspberry Flavors
    BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate with Blood Orange and Peach Flavors

    These BROOKSIDE products are dark chocolate surrounding a sweetened fruit flavored center which is made with a blend of fruit juice flavors. This product shows the fruit on the package to convey the featured fruit juice flavors in the product.

    However, we also manufacture BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries which are whole sweetened dried blueberries covered in smooth dark chocolate and BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries which are tart cranberries surrounded by rich and smooth dark chocolate create a tantalizing taste

    In addition, The Hershey Company’s products may contain ingredients, broadly used throughout the food and beverage industry, produced from crops that were developed using modern plant biotechnology. These include ingredients from common crops such as corn, soy, and sugar beets.

    If you prefer foods that do not contain ingredients from crops grown through modern plant biotechnology practices, please note that The Hershey Company offers SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolates, organic DAGOBA Chocolates and HERSHEY’S COCOA Powder and HERSHEY’S Baking Chocolates for baking.

    We appreciate your interest in our products.

    Nicole
    Consumer Representative

  • Vanessa March 29, 2016, 9:30 am

    This makes so much sense. Feels like I wrote this… we can’t make this stuff up. I felt addicted to it… and I am pretty good with controlling my eating impulses…
    I bought a bag and munched through it until I felt sick… I didn’t finish the bag… but I still wanted more.

    Like a weird addiction… that’s when I looked up the ingredients. This had never happened to me with dark chocolate… and yep it’s not berries, full of sugar and more milk than necessary.. I assume for the caramelized interior.
    Glad I found your post! I just ended my short lived addiction…

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