I was in Target yesterday, and in addition to some sundries, I grabbed a two-pack of Wrigley's Eclipse Mints (Winterfrost flavor).
As I've mentioned before, I like gum and tins that could be used to hold things (including gum). So I was primarily interested in the tin:
Anyway, since I just wanted the tin, I powered through most of the mints over the afternoon (the "smooth mouth experience and distinctly cool flavor sensation" is addicting), then went to Mexican restaurant Teocalli Tamale in Herndon for lunch.
Later on, when I was at home, I suffered some major intestinal distress. Fairly or not, I blamed the restaurant and thought I had picked up some mild, run-of-the-mill food poisoning, or maybe just had a tough time with beans and hot sauce.
It was not particularly fun.
Today, I finished off the other tin (remember, it was a 2-pack). This was followed by another period of fun.
Since I am not a complete idiot, I figured out that it was probably the mints.
I took a look at the ingredients, and the first listed ingredient is the sweetener Sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that the body doesn't absorb well.
(Incidentally, "sugar alcohol" sounds like it should be a lot more fun than it actually is.)
Hrm, a substitute ingredient that's used precisely because the body doesn't absorb it well. That sounds kind of familiar. Kind of like... Olestra.
Here's what the Center for Science in the Public Interest (you usually hear them rousing rabble about junk food) has to say about Sorbitol. It's in an unappealingly-titled item, "Consumer Group Petitions FDA to Require "Diarrhea" Notice on Foods that Contain Sorbitol":
So a 50-mint tin has about 34 grams of Sorbitol. Which is apparently enough to ruin a good portion of your afternoon.
While the Eclipse mint tin is pretty nice, I think it would be even nicer if it had a warning that says "May cause intenstinal distress. Do not eat more than 10 per day."
I do note that the Altoids sugar-free Smalls mints also contain Sorbitol, though I don't remember if they gave me trouble, too.