You know what I hate? Movie critics who say, “This movie stunk.” There are some movies I like that critics don’t. Critics need good storytelling, and proper acting, and outstanding direction. I don’t need movies to be art on every level down to the gaffers and best boys and all that crap. Some explosions, a couple of bikinis, a nice hook, I’m good.
So I’m going to give you a critique of Stretch Island Fruit Strips. I’m not going to say, “These stink” or “These are the best things ever” because, well, I saw “Out Of Africa”. The critics said I was supposed to love it, but they didn’t tell me it didn’t have bikinis or even a nice hook. I’m going to tell you what these things are, and then you can decide if they’re what you want. That’s good critiquing, y’all!
Stretch Island Fruit Strips fit really well into the lost corner of your backpack. They have expiration dates a few months down the road of the date you buy them, which also buys you some time to let them get properly mulched down before you pull them out and say, “Thank God! I DO have some food in here! We’re saved!” If this sort of consideration is important to you (as it is to me) then score one for Stretch Island Fruit Company.
If you buy these things 30 at a time, the way they’re offered on the Stretch Island Fruit Co website (http://www.stretchislandfruit.com/) They’ll cost you less than fifty cents apiece. The upside? LESS THAN FIFTY CENTS APIECE. The downside? There’s thirty of these things. What’s gonna stop you from eating three or five or whatever and still thinking “the box is pretty full. I could have another one.”
Which brings us to the size of these things. I’m a fat guy. I can polish off a typical ‘meal replacement bar’ like Clif or any of the thousands of others available and my stomach growls a few minutes later. These Stretch Island things are NOT meal replacement bars. They’re little snacks. Don’t buy ’em thinking they’ll fill you up and keep you on your feet. If you need a sugar charge and something to keep your jaws working for a half a minute, you’re good here. Go for ’em.
I guess that brings us to the nutrition part. These little darlings have a half-day’s serving of fruit, if the company’s claim is true- and I have no reason to doubt them. They have 0g of: Total Fat, Sat. Fat, or Trans Fat. No fat. period. They also have 0g cholesterol, which makes my cardiologist happy. They have No Sodium, which is good, but they also have no vitamin A, Calcium or Iron. They have 4% of the vitamin C you’re supposed to get today. 120mg or Potassium, 12g total carbs, (1g of which is from Fiber, 9g of which is from Sugars)
The aforementioned ‘Sugars’ must be All-Natural and Pure sugars because Stretch Island’s website is very full of the words All-Natural and Pure.
Since they’re so natural and pure and full of the goodness of nature and fruit and they don’t have all that weird stuff that, say, Pop-Tarts have, if you have to take kids into consideration, these are a good idea. If the other kids in the neighborhood are snarfing down ‘Froot Roll Ups’ or whatever nuclear-colored pre-processed toy-that-looks-like-candy ‘food’ their parents have provided, you can provide your kids with Stretch Island All-Natural Fruit Strips, and they can feel like they’re at least related to the crowd, if not IN the crowd. Maybe you live in a really hip neighborhood, and ‘Froot’ isn’t allowed. Then your kids get to be the COOLEST, since they have some kind of processed stretchy fruit to eat and don’t have to resort to eating actual fruit in public. I dunno. You know where you live. Make the call and tell the kids what they get. You’re scarring them for life and they’ll rebel against you no matter how well you look after them, so be the parent.
Now. Taste. That’s critical for something you’re going to put in your mouth as food, right? Let’s see. I have four of their seven flavors here, and some people to taste them. ‘Ripened Rasberry’, ‘Autumn Apple’, ‘Abundant Apricot’, and ‘Harvest Grape’. I don’t know why they abandoned the alliteration for grape. Slackers.
There’s a sugary zing right off the bat on all of the flavors. Then the flavor drifts in. The sugary zing is kind of startling at the first bite, but as the taste test went on, we didn’t notice it as much. I suspect that it’s the same as being deafened at a concert. After a few minutes, you don’t realize you’re being deafened.
The texture is nothing to scream about. I’m told that the texture of these is better than Froot Roll Ups and I’m taking the kid’s word for it, because I’m just not gonna eat Froot. As an adult who isn’t gonna eat Froot, though, these things felt slick and unnatural on my tongue. On the other hand, if they were textured to look like something other than fruit goop spat out of a machine, I’d wonder why and it might be distracting. Flat, smooth fruit is at least something that some folks think of as normal in this day and age.
The apple smelled good. The grape lost its scent pretty quickly after the package was opened. I never really got a whiff of ‘raspberry’ from the raspberry flavored. The apricot smelled like apricots. No surprise, no comment.
The flavors linger. We’ve been sitting here and discussing them for a while, the bites are gone and we’re still tasting the heck out of this stuff. It may be that the stickiness has left a coat of zing on our tongues and teeth, or it may be that the flavors are so concentrated that once they hit spit, they spread out and set up shop. Either way, that’s probably good… we know we’ve eaten something.
The stickiness was an issue because we were cutting up bits to share around, but I guess if you’re opening one and cramming it down yourself, stickiness isn’t an issue… except for your hands, which you then need to wash, and the wrapper, which has to be put somewhere that it won’t wreck, say, your spare shirt or your sunglasses or your camera… or just the inside of the little pocket of your shorts or pack. Sticky. Woo. Hikers and Moms without baby wipes beware.
The Autumn Apple wins for flavor. I’m a big raspberry fan, and I still like the apple better. You’d think the apricot would taste just like a regular old dried apricot, but it doesn’t exactly. Not bad, just not exactly a dried apricot, which it isn’t anyway. And the apricot strip was harder than the rest, I’ve just been reminded. Like it didn’t hold up as well structurally or something. I’ve gone back to the raspberry over and over hoping for something nice to say about it, since I’m partial to actual raspberries. The best thing I can say is that the aftertaste is just like faint raspberries. I don’t want the company to pump up the flavors artificially, but I do wish raspberries kept as much zing as a granny smith apple apparently does.
Everybody says the flavor doesn’t go away. Still tasting all that stuff.
So there you go. Sticky, Zingy, long-lasting flavor, easy to pack around, All-Natural Fruit leather. For total disclosure: It’s June now, and the expiration dates on these things are in January and February of next year. They’ve been sitting in the bottom of two different packs over the past two months, and I don’t know how much time on a shelf before that. That’s the correct lifetime of the sort of snacks I take on trails and trips, so that’s what we’re working with here. If you live the way that makes these things sound good for your lifestyle, provide yourself with them. If you need a gateway snack to a healthier lifestyle, dump the Froot and go with these. If you need a meal replacement bar, or if PopTarts have all the texture and flavor you desire, then these might be alright occasionally. If the words ‘All-Natural’ and ‘Pure’ make you want to go kneel on a hippy’s windpipe, and smoke a ham and a cigar right after, you can skip Stretch Island’s Fruit Strips.