Category: Drinks

Wonder Winnie

I was excited to try the new Wonder Winnie thirst quenching drinks.  I am all for food/drink products that don’t contain bucket loads of sugar, and aren’t sweetened with carcinogenic artificial sweeteners. I am also a fan of stevia,  which has been used as a natural sweetener for decades in Japan, and centuries in other countries, according to Wikipedia.  Stevia leaves are 30-45 times sweeter than ordinary sugar, extracts around 300 times sweeter, and it has the added bonus of hardly affecting blood sugar and not containing many calories.

I use liquid stevia concentrate to sweeten healthy cookies and muffins and things that I make for the kids, so I’m quite familiar with it.  Wonder Winnie drinks are sweetened not with sugar, or artificial sweeteners, but with stevia.  They come in 5 different flavours, each “enhanced with the added bonus of Aloe Vera, Gingko Biloba,Echinacea, Rosehip, and Guarana.”

After doing some research, I found that aloe vera can actually be toxic, and there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims that it is healthy for the digestive system.

Gingko biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages.  Some studies have shown that it can improve blood flow, protect against free radicals, and slow the effects of Alzheimer’s. Other studies are contradictory.  People who are taking anticoagulants, certain types of antidepressants, and pregnant women should not take biloba.  Some people experience side effects after consuming gingko biloba, including gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and restlessness (Wikipedia, side effects), yet there was no warning at all on the label.

Echinacea supposedly boosts immunity and shortens the length of colds, but once again, different studies proved contradictory.  Echinacea should also not be used for more than 10 days in a row, and should never be taken by anyone younger than 1, and is not recommended for children between 1 and 12. Again, nothing on the label states this.

Rosehips are very high in vitamin C lycopene (an antioxidant), and has anti-inflammatory effects.

Guarana is a plant, whose seeds contain about twice the amount of caffeine as coffee beans.  It increases memory, mood, and alertness.  According to Wikipedia, “Guarana extract reduced aggregation of rabbit platelets by up to 37 percent below control values and decreased platelet thromboxane formation from arachidonic acid by 78 percent below control values. It is not known if such platelet action has any effect on the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke.” Delightful. Guarana is definitely something that kids shouldn’t be having, nor pregnant women, but again, no warning on the label.

All of the info I’ve found regarding these “added bonuses” is quite alarming. Since there are no warnings on the labels, it begs the question, is the 0.1% (the amount put in the drinks) such a small percentage that it’s not even remotely worth worrying about and therefore just added to the label because people in general think it’s good for them, or are they trying to hide the fact that it can actually be harmful?

I tried the drinks before doing any of this research, and therefore had no bias against them. I thought they’d be delicious. Boy was I wrong. I had my first taste when they first came in the mail. It was a hot day and I wanted something to quench my thirst. I nearly choked on how foul the Cranberry, Apple & Lemon Wonder Winnie tasted. It was extremely bitter, with a very strong liquorice like after taste, something stevia is known for at high concentrations.

I thought maybe they’d taste better cold, so I put them all in the fridge and waited. A cold sip proved much better, though still very bitter and still with the aftertaste that lingered for ages. I couldn’t drink the whole bottle, and only managed a couple of sips.  Same story with the rest of the flavours. I just couldn’t bring myself to have more than a couple sips of each one. I didn’t find them pleasant at all.

I’m not really a soft drink (pop/fizzy drink/whatever you call it) consumer though. I drink water, a bit of milk, and occasionally home made iced tea. So maybe I’m not the best judge of flavoured beverages.  I don’t particularly like most flavoured beverages. I really don’t like bitter drinks, like coffee and wine, so maybe those people who do enjoy bitter things would like these drinks.  If you are a person who consumes lots of fizzy drinks, diet or otherwise, the raspberry & cranberry with rosehip flavour (because rosehip doesn’t have any adverse effects) would probably be a good substitute for you.  The aftertaste is something you could get used to, and it’s much better for you than sugar laden or artificially sweetened drinks.

PROS:

-Sweetened with stevia
-Don’t need to be refrigerated until opened (except for the taste, but they won’t go bad if you store them in the cupboard before opening)
-5 different flavours
-Low calorie/Kj
-Bottled in Australia

CONS:

-Questionable “added bonus” substances
-Horrible after taste
-Bitter
-No warning labels for Guarana, Echinacea, and Gingko Biloba

I sent this post to the PR people who sent it to the brand for comment. This is what they had to say:

Firstly, thank you for your feedback regarding the Wonder Winnie range. While you didn’t enjoy the products, we do value all feedback and will take this onboard when reviewing this range.

 

With regard to your feedback on the addition of Aloe Vera, Ginko Biloba, Echinacea, Rosehip & Guarana – we have used these botanicals as a flavouring only, which is why the content is low and is also why we do not reference these as providing a nutritional or health benefit. The botanical ingredients at the low levels we have used, are safe for use in a range of foods and beverages, including non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy, milk products, snack foods, imitation dairy products, chewing gum, instant tea and coffee and soups.

With regard to labelling regulations, all of our products undergo a legal review process to ensure we meet very strict guidelines. We can assure you that all necessary claims relating to the products are made on the packaging.

We have looked into your comments about including warning notes on each label listing the possible adverse side effects of these herbal extracts, and advise that this is not a requirement given the low level of the extracts used in each serve.

The Wonder Winnie products were launched to offer consumers a low calorie, naturally sweetened beverage – as the market is swamped with artificial ingredients, preservatives and additives.

Thank you again for your feedback, we will definitely take on board your comments regarding the stevia flavour being too strong.

If you have any further questions about the range or regarding our labelling i would be happy to hear from you.