Reminder: Fruit Rollups are NOT Fruit [Nutrition Impostor]

Here’s a snack kids love, and moms feel good about buying – A fruit rollup. Let’s take a look at the product pictured above (it’s a Betty Crocker brand). Look at the nutritional benefits we get listed on the front of the package:

“More than 95% fruit juice and real fruit”.   (Is there such a thing as fake fruit?)

1 serving of fruit

Made with natural flavors (what does that mean?)

Good source of vitamin C (added to the product, not from the actual fruit)

Gluten free (of course, it’s got nothing to do with wheat for goodness sake. There’s also no Lego in it either.

50 calories per roll (OK – that’s a good one.)

Looks fishy. Let’s take a closer look…

What you need to know:

Here is the ingredient list:

Apple juice Concentrate, dried apples, blackberry puree, strawberry puree, canola oil, Contains 2% or Less of:  fruit pectin, lemon juice concentrate, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), black carrot juice concentrate, blueberry juice concentrate added for color, Natural Flavor, Citric acid, sodium sulfite added to protect flavor.

Ingredient number one is sugar. They call it apple juice concentrate but it’s basically sugar. You don’t get the beneficial fiber of an apple, and many of the nutrients present in a fresh apple have long ago disappeared in the process of turning to a juice and then a concentrated form. Same with the puree.

There is nothing to brag about here nutritionally. Yes it’s 50 calories, but 40 of them are sugar! That’2 2.5 teaspoons. Meanwhile the fiber count is less than 1 gram (less than 3% of the daily value). The vitamin C clocks in at 10% of the daily value, but only because it is added in the ingredient list.

The added natural flavor is a sign that the team could not get the original ingredients to taste great on their own.

The added sodium sulfite is used to prevent discoloration. Some people are sensitive to to sulfites and must stay away.

So, in summary – the nutritional value of this snack is in INVERSE PROPORTION to the lengthy nutrition checklist above.

One last thing – dentists absolutely abhor these snacks. Impossible to get a child’s teeth cleaned after eating one of these.

What to do at the supermarket:

For a serving of real fruit, how about buying real fruit?

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  • DrSusan Rubin

    Roll Ups are the reason I became a school food activist!
    Why aren’t my fellow dentists speaking out against fruit roll ups?
    Because they are all laughing on their way to the bank instead!

  • Lauren Smith

    On the plus side, it’s getting its color from the fruit… That must be a new thing, because they used to be tie-dyed with the most obnoxious colors. In no way am I defending these, but the ingredients list was just better than I was expecting.

  • joanne

    My kids are 24 and 21. They asked me for Fruit Roll-Ups every time I went grocery shopping, or every time I asked them to help with a grocery list. The answer was always NO, ALWAYS. It still is because sometimes they still write it on the list. Now they know it is a joke. You are the parents. Who cares what the box claims, or how much your kids bug you. SAY NO once in a while people. It’s as easy as that.

    • Charlotte

      I’m also active on various couponing forums, and I cringe every time I see a parent say they need deals on fruit roll ups. I don’t lecture, but I soooo want to. So, it’s not just about parents saying no to the kids, but about parents learning that this is NOT a healthy snack.

      On the other hand, I do not blame parents who are lost in the minefield that is the grocery store. There is so much stuff we’re supposed to avoid, it gets frustrating. I try to avoid the big ones, like HFCS, trans fats and artificial dyes. But, every time I forget to read a label, I am guaranteed to come home with something that contains it.

      • C C

        It’s really not all that hard. Stick to the outside of the store–fresh veg, fresh meats. Venture to the interior only for the grains in bags and teas, coffees and oatmeals.

  • Dez

    On the plus side, these -are- better that the standard kind of fruit rollup; the kind make with HFCS and Red 40.

    No, they’re not a healthy snack. At all.

    But this is a step in the right direction that I’d like to see more companies make available. Some people just don’t have the money for real fruit, and in degrees of health this -is- better. (Well, except for the dentist thing.) I’d rather have a D+ than an F.

    • Charlotte

      Ummm… How can someone “not have the money for real fruit”, yet have the money for Fruit Roll-ups? I checked and a 42 pack of these sells for $18.75. Which, compared to the other prices I looked at, is a very good deal at approx. $0.45/each.

      However, bananas were $0.54 / lb when I last went grocery shopping. One banana, with peel is apparently weighs about 0.28 lbs according to wikipedia. My kitchen scale is broken or I’d weigh the one I have. Anyway, you can then get just under 4 bananas in one pound, so let’s say $0.60 for 4 bananas.

      Even if you take an apple, which in the last years have become quite large, you could possibly get 2 in a pound. Now, if you’re giving them to kids, there is nothing wrong with splitting the apple in half, and giving each kid one half. And apples here in Illinois were around $0.99 /lb last time I checked.

      So, the excuse “we can’t afford fruit” just doesn’t hold up, unless you’re getting these fruit rollups for free. At which point, ask yourself what is more important, your health, or eating something because it was free?

    • Jim Cooper

      But remember that HFCS is no more harmful than table sugar, and that the dangers of Red 40 seem to be exaggerated based on the FDA’s recent review of the work in this area.

    • C C

      It’s not a step in the right direction. A step in the right direction would be education and raised prices. A step in the right direction would be stop making them altogether.

      But as even I am a capitalist, it’s not a minefield. It’s willful ignorance on the parent’s side. You have kids now… you had 9 months to do research on what to feed your kid. No excuses.

      Fruit is cheaper… esp in the long run.

  • Dalai Lina

    You made me laugh. Lego-free fruit roll ups…

  • Paxye

    Any thoughts on the homemade kind? I had to use up some forgotten strawberries yesterday so I cooked them down with a chopped apple and a bit of lemon juice, puréed the mix and then dehydrated it. I have never bought the store kind but the kids love the ones I make…

    • C C

      When you cooked them down did you add sugar? No? then that sounds fine. The fiber is gone and maybe some nutrients denatured, but otherwise it sounds fine.

  • Jim Cooper

    I bought some of these for a joke. They taste absolutely dreadful and that may be the most persuasive point of all.

  • Lisa

    I’m amazed they still make this stuff. I used to eat it as a kid. I was so anti-fruit then, despite my parent’s best efforts. Now I’m a vegetarian and build my diet on fruit and veg!

  • hana lipowicz

    Is this a real article? Does anyone actually think that eating fruit roll-ups is on par with eating an apple? The comment about gluten illustrates the author’s lack of knowledge about processed food – wheat flour is used in a variety of things having nothing to do with wheat, such as Twizzlers and salad dressing.

    • C C

      Sadly yes. My sister’s dad thinks it’s a healthy fruit alternative.

  • Tania

    Just a word of caution on the “of course not” reaction re: the gluten-free labeling on this product and another one on this site. Those of us who must eat gluten-free learn pretty quickly that gluten is added to tons of food products that are naturally gluten-free. Example: many brands of rotisserie chicken are NOT gluten-free. Does chicken have gluten in it? Of course not – but the basting juices do. It’s because many flavoring agents are made from barley malt or wheat. I feel much safer buying products that say “gluten-free” even if it’s something that should have been gluten-free anyway. If I wanted to buy these fruit roll-ups (which I don’t, for the same reasons you don’t), I would want to see “gluten-free” somewhere on the label, preferably in big bright letters.

  • Letitiawshngtn

    Everyone sounds rediculous to me…….so what everyone is saying is “basically”  all food lables can be dishonest about there ingredients……. sooooooooo which means none of you really know how healthy you are really eating….im only being honest everyone always say, read the lable now you read the label and mothers get bashed because they shouldnt believe the label as you say.

    • C C

      The best foods don’t come with labels, or only labels added by the butcher.

  • C C

    I’m an adult with a kid sister by another (fat) father. A few years ago when she was still in Jr. High, he was telling me about how he packed her lunch, “Yeah, I try to include something healthy for her like fruit; so I make sure to put in maybe like a fruit roll up.”


    In previous years when I was a kid, if I ever asked for fruit roll ups because it was fun, I’d be told, “Here’s an apple. It’s cheaper.” And I ate it… JUST AS HAPPILY.