Taste test: fruit pouches for kids
I get a lot of "healthy snacks for kids" sent my way to test and I have to admit that my kids now run for cover when I bring them home. Most of them are heavy on the sugar and just too weird for their finicky palates. Give me a good old apple any day.
But we've noticed that there's been a glut of individual pouches of mashed-up fruits marketed as an attractive option for parents. With my kids ducking under the tables, I was grateful that TampaBay.com's Taste Test team took this on, because I am intrigued by the idea. They are portable, nutritious and pleasingly packaged. And, they must be catching on because we've been seeing them at every local grocery store.
Instead of the usual adult tasters, the team enlisted the help of the fruit pouch target audience: preschoolers. The students in Susan Morris' prekindergarten class at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg wear chef's hats every Friday to study foods and cooking. Recently, they volunteered to taste six brands of fruit pouches for Taster's Choice. Here are their top four picks and what they had to say about the snacks:
Buddy Fruits Our tasters sampled the banana and skim milk version of these pouches. The ingredients include apple, banana, passion fruit juice and skim milk. A couple of the preschoolers didn't like banana and disliked the pouches because of the strong flavor. But those who liked banana were pleased with the overall product. Brennan said he thought the fruits gave the milk a strawberry taste. One student even detected a hint of chocolate. Maria said, "These remind me of the smoothies my daddy makes every day." The Buddy Fruits pouches were a little hard for the 3- and 4-year-olds to open, and the thicker texture of the banana was unpleasant to some.
$5 for a pack of four 3.2-ounce pouches from Publix.
Liberty Gold Fruit Squeezies Strawberry and Sour Grape were the flavors tasted from Liberty Gold. "It tastes like applesauce," said Alexandra of the strawberry fruit snack. "It's very sweet like juice. It's yummy and tastes like my strawberry toothpaste." Koa said the fruit tasted like bubble gum. Audrianna said she would slurp the grape-flavored pouch for breakfast or lunch. Ethan agreed, "This is so good," he said as he squeezed the last bit of fruit out of the pouch.
$2.49 for a pack of four 3.5-ounce pouches from Publix.
Nature's Child These grape-flavored pouches were a favorite for their taste and the alluring packaging featuring Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. One taster didn't like the thick texture of the fruits. But most of the judges gave the snack high marks for flavor. All of them said they smelled and tasted apples more than grapes. "It tastes great," said Hannah. "I think it smells like cinnamon," she said. Brennan said he was going to ask his mom to buy the brand. "I like it," he said.
$2.99 for a pack of four 3.17-ounce pouches from Target.
Peter Rabbit Organics The preschoolers tasted Strawberry/Banana and Apple/Grape flavors of this brand. The color was an unappealing brown, and the seeds made for an unappetizing texture for some. Morgan was ready to throw in the towel on the whole tasting after a sip from the strawberry-flavored Peter Rabbit pouch. But he was happier with the apple- and grape-flavored snack. "I like sour things," he said. Likewise, Joey finished the whole grape pouch. "I love it," he said. "It almost tastes like orange juice and applesauce."
$1.79 for a 3.5-ounce pouch from Publix.
Also Sampled: GoGo Squeez ($2 for a pack of four 3.2-ounce pouches from Publix) and Homemade Harvey ($1.99 for a 4.5-ounce pouch from the Fresh Market).
To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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