How much sugar is in a hot tamale?

Hot tamales are a popular cinnamon-flavored candy made of chewy red hot cinnamon candy wrapped around a sweet filling. They have been around for decades and are a classic candy treat enjoyed by many. But with their intense sweet and spicy flavors, some may wonder just how much sugar is packed into each hot tamale.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the typical sugar content of hot tamales and how that compares to daily recommended sugar intake limits. We’ll also provide some tips for enjoying hot tamales in moderation if you want to satisfy your craving for this nostalgic candy without going overboard on added sugars.

What are Hot Tamales?

Hot tamales were first created in the 1950s and were originally called “Elmer’s Hot Tamales” after their inventor, Elmer Candy Company employee Mary Allyce. They consisted of a cinnamon flavored red-hot outer coating with a sweet, chewy interior.

Today’s hot tamales are still made with a similar cinnamon candy outer layer but the interior fillings have expanded to include flavors like cherry, lemon, lime, strawberry, chocolate, peanut butter, and even salsa and jalapeño pepper. Brands like Just Born and Candymania specialize in producing these popular spicy-sweet candies.

The chewy candies have an oblong shape and come individually wrapped in paper, often with festive Mexican-inspired designs and colors due to their flavor inspiration from Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Hot tamales are shelf-stable and have a long shelf life, making them convenient to store and enjoy for long periods.

How Much Sugar is in One Hot Tamale?

So how sweet are these spicy candies? Let’s take a look at the typical sugar content of a single standard size hot tamale:

Typical Hot Tamale Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 piece (17g)
Calories 70
Sugar 13g

As the nutrition label indicates, a single hot tamale candy contains about 13 grams of sugar.

This is a significant amount when you consider the recommended daily intake of added sugars, according to leading health authorities like the American Heart Association (AHA) and World Health Organization (WHO):

– AHA: No more than 25g or 6 teaspoons for women, 36g or 9 teaspoons for men
– WHO: No more than 25g or 6 teaspoons total

So at 13g per piece, just 1-2 hot tamales maxes out the recommended added sugar intake for many people for the day. The candies get their signature spicy-sweet flavor in large part from all that sugar.

Sugar Content by Different Hot Tamale Brands

While most standard size hot tamales contain around 13 grams of sugar each, the exact amount can vary slightly depending on the brand. Here’s a look at the sugar content per hot tamale by some top brands:

Brand Sugar per Hot Tamale (g)
Just Born 13
Candymania 12
Kleen-Pak 13
Rico’s 12

As you can see, most brands range from containing 12-13 grams of sugar per standard size hot tamale. So the amount is fairly consistent no matter which brand’s hot tamales you may enjoy.

Daily Sugar Intake Recommendations

To fully put into context how much sugar is in a single hot tamale candy, let’s look at the daily recommended limits for added sugar intake:

American Heart Association Recommendations

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to:

– Men: No more than 36 grams or 9 teaspoons
– Women: No more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons

This recommendation is based on a 2000 calorie diet. The limits would be even lower for diets of less than 2000 calories per day.

World Health Organization Recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is even more strict with their sugar guidelines, recommending:

– Both men and women limit added sugar to no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons per day.

This applies to adults and children worldwide.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines on Added Sugars

The latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in 2020 also emphasizes limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calorie intake, stating:

– Based on a 2000 calorie diet, this would equal about 12 teaspoons or 50 grams of added sugars per day.
– For a 1600 calorie diet, the equivalent limit would be 9 teaspoons or 38 grams per day.

So across leading health authorities, the daily recommendations cap added sugar intake roughly in the range of 25-38 grams or 6-9 teaspoons depending on your gender and caloric needs.

With one hot tamale containing around 13 grams sugar, it’s clear just 1-2 of these candies would meet or exceed the recommended daily added sugar limits for most people.

Tips for Enjoying Hot Tamales in Moderation

While hot tamales are certainly a sweet treat, it doesn’t mean you have to abstain altogether if you love their unique spicy-sweet flavor. Here are some tips for enjoying them in moderation:

Stick to a Single Tamale

Consider eating just one hot tamale to help control added sugar intake. One tamale delivers plenty of sweet flavor and heat at only around 13 grams of sugar.

Share a Package with Others

If you plan to enjoy hot tamales, consider sharing a box or package with family or friends. This can help restrict your personal portions to just a tamale or two.

Balance with Protein & Fiber

Help offset the sugar in a hot tamale by enjoying it with a source of filling protein and fiber, like an apple with peanut butter or Greek yogurt with fresh berries.

Savor Slowly

Make a single tamale last by savoring it slowly. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth to prevent quickly reaching for a second piece.

Stay Hydrated

Be sure to drink water or other hydrating fluids while enjoying hot tamales to wash away some of the sugar. Proper hydration also prevents overeating.

Watch Overall Sugar Intake

Keep close tabs on your overall sugar consumption for the day when planning to eat hot tamales. Limit other sugary foods and beverages to accommodate a sweet tamale.

The Bottom Line

Hot tamales may be a beloved candy thanks to their distinct sweet and spicy flavor, but they pack a hefty sugar punch at around 13 grams per piece. Just 1-2 tamales meets or exceeds the daily recommendations for added sugar intake for most people.

Luckily, by employing mindful portion control, balancing with whole foods, and tracking your overall sugar intake, you can still occasionally enjoy these nostalgic candies in moderation. With some sugar-smart strategies, you don’t have to bid farewell to this classic candy!

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