The Truth About Fruit Snacks

by Sally on January 14, 2015

Myths about Fruit Snacks by Real Mom NutritionFruit snacks are fixtures in lunch boxes and party goody bags. They show up on soccer sidelines and are beloved by kids (yes, including mine). But for something that calls itself “fruit” and a “snack”, they’re also highly overrated. Here are the three biggest misconceptions about fruit snacks–and what ALL parents should know about these ubiquitous little pouches:

Myth #1: Fruit snacks are healthy.

Here’s the ingredient list for a popular brand of fruit snacks that features superheroes on the front of the box:

Corn syrup, Sugar, Apple Puree Concentrate, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Gelatin, Contains 2% or less of Citric Acid, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Yellow 5, Red 40, Sodium Citrate, Blue 1.

Here’s the ingredient list for Gummy Bears:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Gelatin, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax Coating, Artificial Colors Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1.

See any similarities?

  • Both have two forms of added sugar (corn syrup and sugar) as the the first two ingredients–meaning, those are the ingredients in the largest quantities
  • Both contain artificial flavors and preservatives
  • Both contain three kinds of artificial food dyes

See any differences?

  • Fruit snacks have added vitamin C. But keep in mind: Children ages 4-8 need just 25 milligrams of vitamin C a day–that’s the amount in 3 medium strawberries OR about a quarter of an orange. In other words, C isn’t a vitamin that’s terribly difficult to get.
  • Fruit snacks contain apple puree concentrate, which allows the box to claim “made with fruit”. But keep in mind: Fruit concentrate is actually more like a source of added sugar than actual fruit.

Myth #2: Fruit snacks are fruit.

Yes, some fruit snacks are made with fruit juice, but not in a meaningful amount. Some fruit snacks are made with fruit juice concentrate, which is more of a sweetener than actual fruit. Fruit snacks should not be considered a serving of fruit. They don’t have the fiber of fruit. They also don’t have the texture of fruit. So kids who gobble fruit snacks are not learning to like fruit. They are learning to like gummies.

Myth #3: Fruit snacks are harmless.

Fruit snacks, like other kinds of chewy candies, stick to the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugary residues, producing acids that can cause decay. Fruit snacks are also loaded with added sugar. Take a look at exactly how much is in one tiny pouch:

Myths about Fruit Snacks by Real Mom NutritionI know fruit snacks aren’t going away anytime soon, and I know kids like them. So if you’re going to buy them…

  • Consider choosing one without artificial food dyes. There’s growing evidence that some children’s behavior may be affected by these dyes (read: Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe For Kids?)–and besides, these dyes are simply not necessary. Several brands including Annie’s and Mott’s use fruit or vegetable juices to colors their fruit snacks.
  • Treat them as you would a dessert. Packing fruit snacks in your child’s lunch? Skip the cookie. Giving your child a choice of a sweet treat after dinner? Fruit snacks should be on par with candy or ice cream.
  • Have your child drink or swish water after eating them to get rid of the sticky residue on their teeth.
  • Be sure you’re offering actual fruit at snack time a lot more often than fruit snacks.


Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches from Real Mom NutritionTurning 40 didn’t bother me. I jumped the gun and went through all the milestone’s complicated emotions when I turned 39. By the time my 40th came around, I was ready to embrace the next decade and savor the perks. Because everything they say is true: With age comes more confidence, clarity, and a certain je ne care pas. As in, my body doesn’t look like a model? I don’t care. Everyone doesn’t like me? I don’t care. I am 40, hear me roar.

What does turning 40 have to do with cookies? I’m part of a group of bloggers honoring fellow registered dietitian Regan Jones, who is turning the big 4-0 today. Regan is beloved in our profession for good reason. She’s been instrumental at building a strong online presence for dietitians. She co-founded Healthy Aperture, the only food blog photo sharing site moderated by dietitians and solely focused on healthy food blogs. She also co-founded Recipe Redux, a recipe challenge for food bloggers that marries taste and nutrition. And in person, she’s warm, funny, charming, and stylish–with a Southern accent that makes everything sound like a compliment (or at least something you should definitely agree with).

To celebrate Regan today, we were tasked with creating either a cocktail or a gluten-free treat. Since I’m not much of a drinker, I chose a dessert. These cookie sandwiches are based on my 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, but I reduced the sugar and added a chocolate filling. I filled mine with melted chocolate chips, but you can also use Nutella or Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, both of which are gluten free.

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches from Real Mom NutritionA note about oats: Though oats don’t naturally contain gluten, they can become contaminated with gluten during growing or processing. Not a big deal if you don’t have to avoid gluten. A very big deal if you have celiac or a gluten intolerance. So if you want a gluten-free cookie sandwich, buy oats labeled “gluten free”.

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches
Serves: about 14 cookie sandwiches
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar (plus more for making criss-cross pattern on cookies)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine egg, peanut butter, oats, and sugar and stir well.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls and place onto ungreased baking sheet (or line with a baking mat such as Silpat)
  4. Dip fork into sugar and make a criss-cross pattern on top of each cookie, pressing down to slightly flatten cookies.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tops look slightly dry.
  6. While cookies are still hot, press tops again with fork dipped in sugar, going over criss-cross pattern to flatten a second time. Allow cookies to cool.
  7. Heat chips in microwave on HIGH until melted, about 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through.
  8. Spread chocolate on the bottom of a cookie and top with a second cookie. Repeat with rest of batch.
  9. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches by Real Mom NutritionSee more gluten-free desserts, plus some fun cocktails, below:


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