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Fruit snack facts for kids

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Welch's Fruit Snacks (4239096810)
Welch's fruit snacks

The fruit snack is a sweet confectionery snack food marketed to parents as a snack for children in the United States. Fruit snacks are very similar to gummy candies. The main content is sugar, especially refined sugar derived from concentrated white grape juice and apple juice. Some fruit snacks have more sugar than gummy candies, and they usually have less protein. The main differences between gummi candies and fruit snacks are the marketing and advertising approaches, and the use of refined sugar extracted from tapioca or fruit juice in addition to, or sometimes instead of, refined sugar extracted from sugar beets, corn, or sugarcane.

Well-known manufacturers of chewy fruit snacks include Promotion In Motion (Welch's brand), Kellogg's, General Mills and Betty Crocker.

Fruit snacks gained popularity from their convenience, candy-like taste, and marketing that positioned the product as being healthier than candy. Most are stored in disposable plastic packaging that does not need to be refrigerated; therefore, they can be taken virtually anywhere. However, they do have an expiration date. Fruit snacks vary in the amount of fruit content. Some, like Welch's, contain some fruit purees. Others only have trace amounts of juice, in addition to sugar.

Fruit leathers differ in that they have a different shape. The ingredients may be the same, or they may be made primarily from pureed, dried fruit and concentrated, high-sugar fruit juice.

Nutrition

Gummi Bears in Action 01
These gummi bear candies contain less sugar and more protein than some fruit snacks, including Annie's Homegrown organic fruit snacks.

More than half the weight of the fruit snacks is simple sugars. They also contain an average of 12% water by weight, 25% starch, a small amount of fat, and a negligible amount of protein.

The nutritional value or content of fruit snacks has long been contested. Much of the controversy surrounds the nutritional value (or possible lack thereof) in sugar, which is found in large amounts in some fruit snacks. Parents are advised to treat their children's consumption of fruit snacks the same way they would a candy or any other sugary snack food item.

Price

As of 2015, fruit snacks generally cost two to five times the price of gummy bears.

History

The modern, highly processed fruit snack has nothing in common with dried fruit. The first modern fruit snack was Joray Fruit Rolls, which were developed by confectioner Louis Shalhoub in the 1970s. It was used by backpackers as a lightweight, high-energy food rather than as healthful-sounding candy for children.

The name fruit snack was first used in 1983 by General Mills, which they used to describe their version of Shalhoub's product, Fruit Roll-Ups, which contained far more sugar.

By the mid-1980s, the fruit snack was a multimillion-dollar business. However, sales peaked in 2013 and declined over the next few years.

Well-known brands

Betty Crocker via General Mills

Fruit Rollups, Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot
Three fruit snacks from General Mills (from left): Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot

General Mills, owner of Betty Crocker products, introduced the first Fruit Corners Fruit Roll-Ups in 1983 and then Fruit by the Foot. Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot are packaged similarly, and the products are rolled around a material so the snack does not stick to itself. However, the two snacks differ with respect to taste, texture, and consistency.

Fruit Gushers are fruit snacks in the shape of elongated hexagonal bipyramids, which made primarily from sugar and fruit juice, with small amounts of other ingredients. Introduced in 1991, they are produced by General Mills under the Betty Crocker brand name, and may be found in generic forms as well.

Welch's

Among the many product types under the Welch's brand are Welch’s Fruit Snacks, which are manufactured and marketed under license by The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc. Welch’s Fruit Snacks are made with fruit purees, corn syrup, sugar, starch, and juices, among other ingredients.

Other brands

Annie's Homegrown Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, owned by General Mills, uses sugar refined from sweet cassava roots.

Sunkist has manufactured and licensed several fruit snacks brands:

  • Sunkist Fun Fruits was a licensed snack food from Leaf Confections Limited, manufactured with fruit from Sunkist Growers, Incorporated and packaged by Thomas J. Lipton. The snack, which was introduced in 1987, was small, soft, and shaped rather like a jellybean. Initially, the confection was available in four flavors: cherry, grape, orange and strawberry. Later that year, assorted shapes, such as dinosaurs and rock 'n' roll shapes, were introduced in order to appeal to children. With the dismantling of Leaf Confections, Sunkist licensed the production of fruit snacks:
    • Sunkist First Fruit Snacks, in Canada, are manufactured by Ganong Bros. Limited
    • Sunkist Fruit Gems are manufactured by the Ben Myerson Candy Company
    • Sunkist Fruit Snacks are manufactured by General Mills, Inc.
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