Are These Natural Fruit Snacks Mom-approved?

Fruits are handy in squeezes, chips and chews - but how do they taste?

According to Nielsen, the global snack food market was around $374 billion in 2014. That's not just chips, but all sorts of food people snack on. A whopping 18% of adults said they would choose fruit as a snack.

How Many Parents Wish Their Kids Would Snack on Fruit?

It's no wonder those re-sealable squeeze packs are packed into supermarket aisles. They're a shelf-stable, handy and a fun eating experience for kids as an alternative to junk food or fresh fruit. (For brands, snacks are a profitable and growing market.)

So, what if the latest fruit snack samples were put to the test with the toughest sort of reviewer: a foodie mom and the kid who would be the real customer.

Sarah Crowder, an incredible food photographer, recipe developer and writer stepped up to the task. Based in Brooklyn, Sarah usually makes snacks from scratch using local foods.

Here's the straight feedback from Sarah and her son, along with some backstory on the brands. 

1
GoGo SqueeZ - Applesauce on the Go Review

2015 natural squeezable fruit brands
Photographer and food writer put natural squeezable fruits to the test in the real world. Sarah Crowder

The fact that GoGo SqueeZ is the most popular in Fruit Cup Snacks & Pouches on Amazon speaks for itself. Simple sells.

With 100% fruit and no added sugar, GoGo Squeez proves that a twist on packaging can make a brand and product. 

What's especially fascinating is that while you would think a simple innovation like this would come out of the many American applesauce makers, in fact, the maker of GoGo Squeez  is a French company founded in 1854. More astonishing, they have sold more than 2 billion products packaged in pouches since 1998.

Plus, the company says, GoGo squeeZ products are nut free, dairy free and gluten free as well as certified kosher. 

Taste testers say Tastes like plain applesauce — nice! Nice texture, too.

2
Vermont Village Organic Unsweetened Applesauce Review

assortment of squeezable fruit packs from Horizon, GoGo Squeez, Vermont Organic and Smooch
Brooklyn mom Sarah Crowder put squeezable fruits to the test - with her kids. Sarah Crowder

The Vermont Village Organic Unsweetened Applesauce booth at Expo West really impressed me (stacks and stacks of applesauce). Their pouch for kids, adults or seniors did too. 

Vermont Village has been certified as an organic processor since 1996 and has a gluten-free facility. Their process develops amazing applesauce flavor by cooking whole apples in kettles along with the cores and skins for the most appley taste and complete nutrients. They add no water or sugar. 

Taste tester feedback was short and sweet:

Love the flavor: applesauce + vibrant berries

(Check out their line of applesauce snack packs and jars as well.)

3
Big Slice - Fit Kettle Cooked Apples Banana Mango Hemp Seed Review

Big Slice kettle cooked apples in pouches
Big Slice is like apple pie filling in a pouch. Sarah Crowder

Big Slice Kettle Cooked Apples come in 100-calorie pouches, ready to eat. 

The taste testers had a lot to report:

Fit Kettle Cooked Apples Banana, Mango, and Hemp Seed look goopy and weird with the hemp seeds! The kid taster wouldn't even try it. It tastes okay but is rather on the sweet side and the banana flavor tastes a bit artificial. Easy to pack/eat. Would like this better if it were less goopy and didn't have the banana. 

Big Slice Fit Kettle Cooked Apples were much less goopy than the other but more difficult to eat with a fork (try a spoon?) because it's much funnier.

The flavors are a little too sweet intense for a snack, but this one still tastes better than the other. The kid tester ate / drank this one and enjoyed it.

4
Nature Addicts - Apple Mango Passion and Apple Raspberry Fruit Sticks Reviews

beautiful photo of Nature Addicts Fruit Sticks snacks
Nature Addicts Fruit Sticks are like a healthier licorice or chunkier fruit rollup. Sarah Crowder

Nature Addicts fruit sticks are kind of like a fruit roll up in stick form, with 100% fruit. Any sweetness comes from fruit concentrate.

Taste test report:

Apple Mango Passion Fruit Sticks have a lovely tropical flavor. Like candy! Not super chewy, satisfying to eat.

Nature Addicts Apple Raspberry Fruit Sticks have a nice, very sweet flavor, although I don't like them as much as the other flavor. Again, like candy.

5
Smooch Fruit Snacks Review

Review of Smooch fruit squeeze
It's tough work being a kid food reviewer. Sarah Crowder

Smooch Snacks blends real fruit purees (not concentrated) with chia seeds and other superfoods for additional nutrients, fiber, and protein.

Each squeeze pack has only 70 calories, with one daily fruit serving.

Smooth Snacks has all the free-form checkmarks covered, too! The  snacks have no added sweeteners and are gluten, dairy, and nut free with no artificial, preservatives, colorings, GMO ingredients, or BPA.

Taste tester report: The least sweet of all the snacks but a pleasant, mild banana flavor. Chia seed texture is fine, depending on whether you like that.

6
Bare Snacks - Granny Crunchy Apple Chips Review

Bare Great Granny Apple Chips spilling out of the bag
The reviewers loved Bare Great Granny Apple Chips. Sarah Crowder

Bare Snacks makes a line of super crunchy baked apple chips and coconut chips with no added sweeteners. They've got the popular natural snacks checkmarks: Kosher, fat-free, gluten-free, cholesterol free and produced in a nut-free facility.

Now for the taste test report:

Simply great. Pure granny smith flavor! Sweet, tart, crunchy. ONE ingredient. Not messy.

7
Little Duck Organics - Freeze Dried Pineapple, Apple, and Pea Review

Freeze dried fruits and veggies mix from Little Duck Organics
Little Duck Organics blends tiny freeze dried fruits and veggies. Sarah Crowder

Little Duck Organics is all about tiny foods in pouches that appeal to kids and the parents who worry about their kids' eating. 

Freeze-dried fruits and veggies are all the rage, for their crunch, colors and natural flavor. They're popping up as flavoring agents and as nothing-added snacks. Little Duck Organics took a unique twist by combining fruits and vegetables in one pack. 

The snacks are USDA Certified Organic, Project Non-GMO verified, gluten-free, kosher, dairy free and nut free. 

Here's what the taste testers said: 

Love each ingredient individually. Combining the fruits and veggies in one snack takes a little getting used to. But I enjoyed the textural contrast between the crunchy peas and slightly chewy fruit.

The Bottomline: Unsweetened fruit snacks have come a long way!

Sure there's nothing like fresh fruit and vegetables. But it's good to see that when you need to shove something in the lunchbox or backpack, the options for healthful food kids will actually eat are growing. (P.S., If you were too busy enjoying Sarah Crowder's photography to read, check out her portfolio for more impressive shots: http://www.punctuatedwithfood.com )