Aspartame is an artificial sweetener which is chemically produced, and used in a variety of manufactured drinks and foods. It is manufactured from two amino acids, namely phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, meaning that we need to consume foods which contain phenylalanine in order to stay healthy, and aspartic acid, which is produced by our bodies. Foods which contain both aspartic acid and phenylalanine include meat, cheese, eggs, fruit, milk, fish, and cereals. It is 200 times sweeter than natural sugar, and when used in diet sodas and fruit drinks, makes them virtually calorie-free, because so little is needed to give the drinks their pleasant, sweet taste. The majority of sugar-free diet drinks are sweetened with this chemical compound, but it is also used in several sugar-free chewing gums, cough drops and candies as well. Aspartame is also used in powered form, as a sugar substitute to sweeten tea, coffee and other hot beverages.