Pepperidge Farm is considered a high end baked goods company with awesome cookies, crackers, and for kids – Goldfish. Almost all tots will recognize the fish shaped finger food and happily munch away. What started as a single product, baked cracker, has expanded over the years to other flavors, colors, and ingredients. Only the fish shape stays the same.
But how nutritious are these fish for our kids? Are there any ingredients we should watch out for? We took a look at the nutrition labels and ingredient lists to find out…
What you need to know:
A serving of goldfish is 55 pieces, which seems quite a lot for toddlers, but definitely doable for preschoolers and up. At 140 calories, it’s not a very light snack, but not a huge one either. If you are worried about weight, there are 100 calorie packages you can buy.
The sugar count is very low (hey, it’s cracker), but the sodium is high – 230-250mg (about 10-11% of the daily value for healthy adults).
There’s barely any fiber (less than 1 gram) because the flour used here is refined, not whole grain. You could opt for a version of Goldfish made with some whole grain. That gets you up to 2 grams of fiber. Meh.
The original product has a fairly simple ingredient list:
Made with Smiles and Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Vegetable Oils (Canola, Sunflower and/or Soybean), Nonfat Milk (Adds a Trivial Amount of Cholesterol), Salt, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Yeast, Leavening (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sugar, Spices and Onion Powder.
Flour, oil, milk, salt, leavening, sugar and spices. Stuff most people who bake have at home. That’s a good thing.
The cheddar flavored product is nutritionally similar and adds cheddar cheese to the ingredient list. Some kids like it’s bite a bit more than the original, others don’t.
In keeping with the tradition of food industry success stories, Pepperidge Farm couldn’t stop at one or two products. More market share! More sales! And thus were invented some novel brand extensions. Here are 2 examples.
Definitely do not buy the RAINBOW version of Goldfish, as the colors all come from artificial dyes:
Blue 2, Red 40, Red 3, and Blue 1.
Artificial colors are considered safe to consume by the FDA, but some countries in Europe are phasing them out due to concerns about neurological effect on children. You should try to minimize your kids’ exposure to them, especially in product categories where they have no reason to be in the first place.
The Garden-Cheddar, a “veggie-infused” product introduced last summer, claims to provide a third of a serving of vegetables that kids so sorely need. Here’s the ingredient list:
Made with Smiles and Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid), Cornstarch, Cheddar Cheese [(Pasteurized Cultures Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Annatto], Dehydrated Vegetable Blend (Split Pea, Carrot, Tomato, Sweet Potato, Cornstarch, Maltodextrin, Soy Lecithin), Vegetable Oils (Canola, Sunflower and/or Soybean), Wheat Gluten, Dehydrated Potatoes, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Salt, Yeast, Maltodextrin, Autolyzed Yeast, Leavening (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Yellow Corn Flour, Lactic Acid, Onion Powder, Paprika, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Butter Flavor, Garlic Powder, Spices, Buttermilk, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Lactate, Citric Acid, and Spice Extract.
Look at all the added ingredients. Can’t we just send the kid to school with 3 baby carrots and a handful of cherry tomatoes? We officially call bullshit on this veggie-in-the-snack marketing tactic.
Mintel, a consumer research company said that the veggie crackers are part of a “stealth health” trend that has been growing for years in cookies, crackers, chips and fruit snacks. The idea of sneaking those healthy ingredients in so that your kids won’t know the difference is becoming very popular.
Bottom line: The original baked goldfish crackers are a decent snack. The whole wheat variation, too. Some of the other inventions – NOT.
What to do at the supermarket:
When looking for snack crackers, keep your eyes on the ingredient list and look for partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat). If you spot any (Ritz), move on. Sodium content can be very high, try to stay under the 230mg (10% dv) number. Whole wheat options are better where possible. No artificial colors, save your allowance for candy.