The T1D Taste Test: My Unofficial Ranking of Drugstore Glucose Supplements

This blog post was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on June 27, 2018. I’m sharing it again today because it’s a blog post that has a surprising number of views – likely due to the fact that people have strong opinions (rightfully so) on glucose tablets and their various iterations! Read on for my thoughts on the best version of drugstore glucose supplements…

You may have heard of glucose tablets, but what about glucose gummies? Or liquid glucose, or glucose gel? Have you tried any of these forms of glucose?

The four forms of glucose (that I’ve tried).

I’ve used them all, and I’ve formed some pretty strong opinions about each of them. I thought it’d be fun to rank them in order of most appetizing to least appetizing, because while they can effectively and efficiently correct low blood sugar, they certainly aren’t created equally:

  1. Best Tasting: Glucose Tablets. I can hardly believe that the most boring variety is the winner here, but it blows the competition out of the water for several reasons. For starters, glucose tablets come in an array of flavors. Orange, raspberry, fruit punch, grape, tropical, and sour apple are among the flavors I’ve tried over the years, and most of them are palatable. Plus, glucose tablets are most akin to actually candy: I’ve described them as giant Smarties to inquiring friends in the past. While actually Smarties are more fun to eat, glucose tablets are their closest counterpart in the diabetes world, making them a number-one choice in low blood sugar situations.
  2. Runner-Up: Glucose Gummies. I’m awarding second place to glucose gummies, mainly because of their novelty. It’s not particularly a standout in other categories like taste and texture. The gummies only come in three flavors: grape, orange, and apple, leaving something to be desired in terms of variety. And all three of those flavors taste a little…off, like there’s a little too much artificial additives going on. Maybe this was done deliberately to distract from the texture of the gummies, which tends to be hard/stale in my experience. It’s nice that the gummies have a layer of sugar on them to convey the likeness of real gummies, but that stuck-to-your-teeth feeling makes it harder to appreciate the gummies for what they are.
  3. Third Place: Glucose Gel. I’ve only ever found glucose gels in the fruit punch flavor at Walgreens – do they actually come in other flavors? Besides being one-note, the gel is a unique texture situation…not quite a liquid, not quite a solid. Gels aren’t a mainstay in my low blood sugar kit because I’m not fond of having to slurp them out of the pouch like a tube of Go-Gurt; in fact, I’d much rather have yogurt from a plastic tube than a gel because the yogurt is much tastier. The gel is just too artificial, with a medicinal aftertaste. And it doesn’t help that the consistency of it reminds me of hand sanitizer.
  4. The Loser: Glucose LiquidIt’s surprising that the glucose liquid wound up in last place, because on the surface, it had a lot going for it. I liked that it came in a small bottle and it seemed like it would be super easy to consume. All I’d need to do is pop the cap off and swig it down. But MAN, the taste was HORRIBLE! I thought I’d like the mixed berry flavor, but it tasted so supremely saccharine and fake that I could scarcely force myself to swallow it. I know, I know, it’s liquid glucose, it’s supposed to be very sweet. But this stuff was just over the top. I definitely will not be buying glucose liquid again any time soon. I’ll stick with my tried-and-true tablets.

Do you agree with my rankings? Did I miss any form of glucose that can be bought in most drugstores, and you think I should give it a try? Let me know in the comments!

When a Normal Shopping Trip Turns into a T1D Supply Stock-Up

Last week, I went to my local Walgreens to pick up a couple of prescriptions for conditions I have other than diabetes (but I don’t have separate blogs for them because I’m not sure I could write three posts a week on my annual asthma flare-ups or allergy to cats and dogs).

Besides shampoo and conditioner, I didn’t need to pick up anything else at Walgreens – it was going to be a quick in-and-out trip. That was the plan, anyways, until I saw my beloved glucose gummies on the diabetes shelf right next to the pharmacy.

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The contents of my shopping basket…I have no shame, apparently. But look, I did end up buying the shampoo and conditioner I actually needed! (And YES, I got my prescriptions, too.)

I couldn’t help but notice that this was the only bottle in stock, so without thinking twice, I put it into my basket. I didn’t need them at this moment in time, but I probably would, down the road – and why not treat a future low with something I actually like?

Then I saw the lotion formulated “just for diabetics”.

Normally, I don’t use products “exclusive” to people for diabetes. But I’ve used this particular lotion before and I can attest to the fact that it is very, very good. It’s probably the best lotion I’ve ever used and the only one I’ve come across (so far) that can actually hydrate my dry, cracked hands in the wintertime. I didn’t need it…but I justified it by saying that it was specially made for a person with diabetes, like me, so it meant I should buy it.

So into the basket it went.

And then, just as I was making my way over to the checkout counter after finally adding the shampoo and conditioner to my basket, my eyes fell on the seasonal candy display.

Oooh, was I in trouble now…

So into the basket went the king-sized Reese’s cups…which I am deeming as a medically necessary diabetes supply item. I didn’t need the Reese’s cups, but I sure as hell WANTED them. Plus, they’d make my gummies last longer, right? I could use them before I opened that bottle.

And sure enough, the Reese’s cups totally came in hand when I had a not-low blood sugar that very same night!

It’s interesting how what was supposed to be an innocent trip to the pharmacy turned into a bit of a T1D shopping spree. I wound up with items for my diabetes that I could certainly live without (except the Reese’s cups, for sure, I can never live without those) but that I could add to my supply stash, anyways…because it never hurts to have extra low supplies or hydrated hands.

The Holy Grail of Glucose Tabs

I feel a desire to share with the world that I’ve found it.

Erm…what is “it” though?

Why, glucose tablets, of course. Not just any old glucose tabs. I’m talking about glucose tabs that are actually delicious. The kind that are obviously effective and can quickly raise low blood sugar, but that are also so tasty that I sort of want to eat them by the handful out of the jar.

I’ve got your curiosity piqued now, don’t I?

Well, then, I’ll let you in on the secret “holy grail” glucose tabs that I’ve been enjoying…

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I never thought I’d do a mini photo shoot for glucose gummies, but then again, I never thought I’d do a lot of the weird things I’ve done in my life so far.

Spoiler alert: They’re not technically tabs; in fact, they’re gummies.

I’ve written about glucose gummies in the past and it’s safe to say I was fairly underwhelmed by them. They had flavor and texture issues, and ultimately, they were pretty disappointing. I’d counted on them to change the glucose game, but this rendition of Walgreens-brand glucose gummies totally failed to do that.

So a few months ago, when I noticed that Walgreens had given their glucose gummies a makeover, I figured I’d give them one last chance to impress me.

And SWEET SUCCESS, THEY DID IT!

There are some similarities between the old and new gummies; namely, three gummies has 10 carbs…just under the amount of carbs that are usually in three standard glucose tabs. The old and new gummies are both also covered in sugar crystals (I’m not sure if that’s intended to make them look appetizing?). Otherwise, they couldn’t be more different from one another in terms of color, shape (old gummies were ring-shaped, new gummies are kind of gumdrop-shaped), and obviously, palatability.

What’s different about the gummies this time is that they improved on every major complaint I had about the previous version. The best, biggest improvement had to do with texture. Previously, the gummies were stale and difficult to chew quickly. These new gummies are very soft and don’t leave you with that sticky teeth feeling that’s typical of most gummy candies.

The flavors are also much better. Before, the gummy flavors were super artificial tasting. The grape, orange, and apple flavors were almost medicinal and hardly tasted like their genuine counterparts. Now, the gummies still come in three different flavors, but they’re all of the same variety: blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry. The mixed berry combination just works here. There’s no odd after taste and, when eaten together, a three or four gummies at once just tastes like a small handful of conventional gummy candy. Not my personal favorite kind of confection, but it definitely is much more appealing than regular old glucose tablets.

Maybe I’m overselling Walgreens’ glucose gummies version 2.0, but really, after 22 years of diabetes, there are just some things that are worth getting excited about…even if they seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.