The energy gels make heavy use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been implicated as a villain in the development of obesity and diabetes in our society.
Any problem with a cyclist using it as an energy gel, when the cyclist is eating 250 Cal/hr of HFCS, but is probably burning 2x or 3x that number of Cal/hr on the bike? My thought (hope?) is that the substance will be burned off so fast it won't hang around long enough to do any damage.
I suppose one could always suck on honey. Also, HFCS is getting more expensive as cars compete with humans for corn (corn-based ethanol).