Spokespeople have been coy about exactly how it works; in fact, they told the New York Times that they’re only speaking about it because the story had already started to leak.
Here’s the idea, at least as much as Nestlé is willing to spill: normal sugar crystals are solid all the way through, but the new sugar crystals, developed in-house, are more like beach balls – hollow on the inside. While this reduces the amount of actual sugar content necessary by weight, it would also make the products taste less sweet, which kind of negates the purpose. So what Nestlé’s doing – this is the interesting part – is reorganizing the sugar molecules in some way so as to make them dissolve faster in the mouth, triggering a more immediate sweetness to make up for the overall decreased amount of sugar. Basically, this sugar tricks your mouth into thinking the product containing the sugar is sweeter than it actually is – but your gut will know the difference, and the overall amount of sugar needed could be reduced by as much as 40 percent.
This wouldn’t be a huge deal for Nestlé’s most famous (at least in the USA) products, which are largely candy bars. Candy is not a tremendously high contributor of sugar to the American diet, at least compared to sweetened starchy products and soda. But! Nestlé also makes a lot of that: frozen foods like Biutoni, DiGiorno’s, and Hot Pockets; baby food; ice cream; cereal. Nestlé is trying their best to protect their intellectual property, but if this crazy modification becomes the standard, it could do wonders to decrease the amount of sugar Americans consume.