It’s not unusual to rely on a morning coffee for a jolt of energy to power through the day. Perhaps you’re such a caffeine aficionado, you’ve even made a habit out of afternoon java runs to avoid a post-lunch slump. Now ask yourself this: Would you do the same thing with candy? As you’ll see in the below comparisons, some of the most tempting cups of joe are basically sugary calorie bombs in disguise. Check out how some of your favorite beverages compare to some of your most beloved candies.
What’s More High-Cal? Coffee Drinks or Candy
1. 8 Snickers Minis = 1 McDonald’s Small Caramel Mocha (12 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 8 Snickers Minis contain 340 calories, 16 g fat (6 g saturated fat) and 36 g sugar; a small McDonald’s Caramel Mocha contains 320 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat) and 40 g sugar
The luscious caramel in both of these options comes at a price. To cut back on the extras in your drink, opt for non-fat milk instead of whole — it’ll save you 70 calories. As a bonus, ask your barista to skip the optional caramel drizzle on top.
2. 11 Starbursts = 1 Starbucks Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte (20 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 11 Starbursts contain 158 calories, 0 g fat and 26 g sugar; a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte contains 160 calories, .3 g fat (.2 g saturated fat) and 21 g sugar
Yup, “skinny” drinks can still widen your waistband. It’s not much consolation that both Starbursts and skinny drinks appear to be low-fat — because they compensate by letting loose with the sugar. Sugar can be addictive and have serious effects on your health, so watch out for it even in seemingly ‘healthy’ snacks and sips.
3. 12 Twix Bar Minis = 1 Dunkin Donuts Medium Frozen Coffee Coolata with Cream (24 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 12 Twix Bar Minis contain 600 calories, 28 g fat (16 g saturated fat) and 60 g sugar; a medium Frozen Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolata with Cream contains 600 calories, 35 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat) and 65 g sugar
One major win for Twix Bars’ is that they don’t contain any trans fat, which boosts your bad cholesterol levels, increasing your chance of eventually getting cardiovascular disease, according to the FDA. If you had to choose between chugging the drink and inhaling the candy, we’d have to vote for the latter this time around.
4. 13 Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups = 1 Starbucks Venti Peppermint Mocha (20 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 13 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup contain 572 calories, 32.5 g fat (13 g saturated fat) and 60 g sugar; a Venti Peppermint Mocha contains 580 calories, 22 g fat (13 g saturated fat) and 68 g sugar
Peppermint is a quintessential cold-weather flavor, but this is going overboard! You’d have to scarf down around 13 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to get near a Venti Peppermint Mocha’s 68 grams of sugar. That’s basically asking for a blood sugar spike, which primes you for a major crash later on. (Want a even less sugar and calories in your PB cups? Try our protein-packed recipe.)
5. 14 Twizzlers = 1 Starbucks Venti Iced Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino (24 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 14 Twizzlers contain 560 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat) and 66.5 g sugar; a Venti Iced Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino contains 570 calories, 18 g fat (11 g saturated fat) and 92 g sugar
The fact that one drink can pack a whopping 92 grams of sugar is anything but sweet! Thank ingredients like mocha sauce, toffee nut syrup and turbinado sugar for that. Between the ingredients and the nutrition information, this drink reads more like an ice cream sundae than an afternoon pick-me-up.
6. 14 Fun Size Milky Ways = 1 Starbucks Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte (20 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 14 Fun Size Milky Ways contain 532 calories, 22 g fat (14 g saturated fat) and 70 g sugar; a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte contains 520 calories, 21 g fat (12 g saturated fat) and 64 g sugar
This seasonal hit is pretty much a pile of sugar masquerading as the most popular fall drink. To lessen the coffee’s scary numbers, ask for no whipped cream. That’ll save you around 70 calories and seven grams of fat. Instead, head over to the coffee bar to pile on even more seasonal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg for added flavor. Better yet, make this healthy PSL at home — it only has 85 calories in eight ounces.
7. 76 Swedish Fish = 1 Starbucks Venti Caramel Brulée Latte (20 oz)
Nutrition Facts: 76 Swedish Fish contain 560 calories, 0 g fat and 116 g sugar; a Venti Caramel Brulée Latte contains 580 calories, 20 g total fat (12 g saturated fat, .5 g trans fat) and 66 g sugar
Yes, we said 76 Swedish fish! This drink does have one thing going for it, though: It contains 50 fewer grams of sugar than the caloric equivalent of the gummy candy. On the other hand, it does have 20 grams of fat, so this isn’t exactly a triumph. Why not try energy bites that are delicious enough to be dessert when you’re craving something to put a pep in your step, instead?
Originally posted October 2015. Updated October 2016.