“ Brand: Sun-Maid / Type: Snack „
I catch the bus home from outside an adorable little newsagents that manages to stock all manner of random things that don't appear in supermarkets near me for ages, so I often go in and look at their snack selection. I decided to try these because I have recently fallen in love with yoghurt covered raisins, and thought from the packaging that these yogurt-dipped Fruit Fingers would be like those. They weren't.
It was suspiciously hard to determine what made up the '100% Real Fruit' in these Fruit Fingers, but the Sun-Maid branding on the front and on the dispenser box in the shop made me assume raisins. To get the true picture, you have to turn the bar over, look past the health claims they're prominently displaying, lift up the flap and read beyond the allergy warnings. It's only then that you find out the bar is:
Hang on - I don't like most of those. Raisins are ok, and apricot is permissible when in jam form, but sultanas? Dates? Banana? Nope, nope, nope. No wonder they go to such great lengths to hide this information. I wonder how many people would try them in the first place if they saw the full list before paying. We are, however, in a recession, and I am loathe to waste a not insignificant sum (slightly less than a hundred thousandth of my annual income), so I shut my eyes, held my nose and tried it anyway.
But before I did that, I stopped and thought maybe I could review these Fruit Fingers. Don't deny you'd have done the same. And knowing how much we all love super detailed descriptions of looks and smells in any food review, I opened my eyes and let go of my nose again. I really wish I hadn't.
The fingers (there are two in each 50g pack) have the dimensions of a 2 finger Kit Kat but a bit longer. They do not look appealing, with most of the bar a brownie orange colour that looks a bit like compressed sludge of the kind Shrek might devour and/or wash himself in. The base has been dipped in yogurt but this is very thin and pale, and you can see through to the bar at most points. It looks nothing like the thick, enticing yogurt shown on the wrapper, which was disappointing since this was the part I was most looking forward to. The yogurt coating didn't have any taste I could detect, and smelt of nothing, while the bar as a whole had that slightly alcoholic smell of dried fruit.
Despite the alleged fruit components, I though the bar tasted mainly of raisins, which suited me fine since this was what I'd been wanting to buy in the first place. The fingers were moist, again like raisins (and maybe those other fruits on the list that I think I don't like...). The result was sort of like a fruit mush, and I couldn't specifically pick out individual flavours, though if you look closely at the bar you can see non-descript dark fruity pieces of varying sizes jammed in next to other non-descript fruity pieces of varying sizes. I never did see or taste anything remotely resembling that 0.5% banana though.
The bar had a slightly funny bitter aftertaste for a few moments, but this quickly went away. The texture was generally smooth but with the odd nasty hard bit (like much dried fruit). Now raisins are sweet due to their high concentration of sugars but if they are stored for any length of time, the sugar inside the fruit crystallizes which can make the raisins taste gritty. This is something I'm familiar with from standard raisins, but have found occurs less in the chocolate- or yogurt-covered sorts. Sadly, these bars don't have enough yogurt to emulate the latter, and definitely have the occasional hard, grainy bit, so you lose out on both counts.
Nutritionally, these bars make a lot of claims.
"Good source of fibre", screams the packaging.
"Source of Omega 3 & 6" (from the added flax seeds) it goes on.
Then, "100% real fruit" (in the land of the Sun-Maid maiden where flax seeds and yogurt are considered fruit).
What I found a little difficult to determine was what constituted a 'bar', as in "One portion of fruit in every bar". The fingers come in a twin pack (their words) but the nutritional information is based per finger, so I would assume there are in fact two portions of fruit in every wrapper, but I could be wrong. You'd think as a reasonably smart, experienced adult I'd know what a finger is, and whether it's the same as a bar, but alas I do not.
Each finger contains 83 calories, so eat both and you're looking at 166 which is ok for a snack, especially given the high fruit content and absence of any added sugar (except in that embarrassingly thin yoghurt coating). You'll also get over 2g fibre if you eat both. For comparison, it's worth noting that 100g of ordinary raisins rack up 300 cals, while 100g of these fingers gives you 328 cals. Now they're not mainly raisins, but they are mainly fruit, which is reassuring though I still feel there could have been more in the way of yogurt. Maybe they could dip the whole thing in, rather than just the base.
For me, one finger at a time was enough (aye, karumba!). They were surprisingly filling, especially since I was 'enjoying' them will a big glass of water to get rid of the funny taste at the end. 83 calories is roughly the same as a cereal bar, and I felt it was good to be eating more fruit and less cereal for a change. I like a pre-gym snack in the afternoon, since I lunch early and have my tea quite late, and these delivered the required sugar kick to get me through a boxing class in the same way the aforementioned cereal bars do.
However because I stuck to one finger at a time, I was left with the question of what to do with the other one. I would advise caution over buying these just for yourself unless you're a fan of dried fruit (50g is quite a big portion in my mind). When you want to share, having two fingers is ok, but I'm not sure I'd want to be the person who goes round the office touting half a dried fruit bar. We're more biscuit people here, you know. As it was I had to wrap the second finger up carefully to have at a later date, because I was worried it would go dry and hard if I left it open to the elements. When you think about the way they list the nutritional info for these, as if one finger is equal to one serving, I'm not sure they've thought through the whole twin-pack thing, especially since the wrapper could not be re-sealed.
The design made these fingers easier to eat than a fiddly little box of raisins, so I can see why they're trying to market them for school lunch boxes, but half of the fun of raisins when I was young was always arranging them to make patterns or faces on the table in front of you as you slowly ate them up, and that's a joy that would be lost from these rigid bars. Equally, these would be no good for certain types of fussy eaters as they are clearly fruit, and no attempt has been made to disguise this fact in taste or appearance. You can't sneak one of these in to their lunch and trick them into thinking it's a Mars bar.
I didn't think the fingers were entirely unpleasant, but it would be cheaper and simpler just to eat ordinary raisins, and you'd find the taste pretty much the same. Another case of a company trying to jazz up a classic product, but making it no healthier and certainly no cheaper. They're classic for a reason, you know.
Selling for about 45p in newsagents nationwide. I've heard about, but not come across, supermarket multi-packs too. I might buy these again in a pickle, but for now I'll stick to cereal bars for my afternoon snack.
Manufactured in Wales by www.halofoods.co.uk/ so at least they don't have too many food miles to their name.
Suitable for vegetarians. Contains soya and milk, and potentially nut traces.