The five people on the panel didn't have a clear favorite, but did offer some insight.
Three cookies were tested: one made with sugar, one with a Splenda blend recommended for cookies, and one with Sun Crystals, a blend of sugar and stevia extract. Taste tasters said the cookie made with regular sugar was the best. But the cookies made with the stevia and Splenda blends weren't far behind.
Breanna Pettinga, 30, of Grosse Ile, Mich., ranked the Splenda blend as an excellent cookie - "very dense almost like shortbread."
Linda Burke of Clinton Township, Mich., 57, a diabetic who typically uses Equal and occasionally Sweet'N Low, liked the stevia-blend cookie.
"It was nice and crunchy," says Burke. "The Splenda blend had no aftertaste, but it was less sweet than the regular sugar cookie."
Edward Burke, Linda's husband, gave the stevia-blend cookie the same high marks he gave the sugar cookie, saying it was "very good with no aftertaste."
Jon Puskarich, 52, of Armada, Mich., who never paid much attention to artificial sweeteners until being diagnosed with diabetes in March, found that the stevia blend cookie "had not much taste."
For the ice tea, we used sugar, Equal, Sweet'N Low, SweetLeaf stevia and Splenda. Four of the testers gave the highest marks to the tea made with Sweet'N Low.
Joyce Williams, 63, of Gibraltar, Mich., liked the tea sweetened with Equal, which she regularly uses.
"It wasn't overly sweet, which is good," says Williams. "Sometimes it's too sweet of a drink and that is not refreshing to me."
The stevia tea got average marks.
The lemonade made with Sweet'N Low got the highest marks. But the stevia-sweetened lemonade was right behind it.
"It had no aftertaste and is a little sweeter than the lemonade with Equal," says Linda Burke.
Overall, panelists gave stevia good marks for taste and sweetness and said stevia had little or no aftertaste, unlike some of its rivals.
"If you can cut back on calories, you are doing something to reduce your disease risk," says Dr. Tom Rifai of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac. "With diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer diseases, many are associated with excess calorie intake."
But Rifai cautions that using artificial sweeteners in a baked good such as cookie "doesn't turn that cookie into berry."