Tuesday, July 3, 2012
A Flavor-Rich Alternative To Gumdrops: Jelly Belly Sunkist Fruit Gems Are Very Satisfying!
Pick up a ten pound case of the Sunkist Fruit Gems directly from Jelly Belly.com!
The Good: Sweet and tastes like the fruits they are supposed to, Presence of vitamin C
The Bad: Seem a little expensive, No bulk (yet!)
The Basics: Jelly Belly Sunkist Fruit Gems are a delightful way to get Vitamin C and may be one of the best non-jelly bean products Jelly Belly produces!
The saddest part of reviewing new foods is when they are gone. That condition is even worse when one enjoys the products that they are reviewing. In the case of Jelly Belly products, I have just completed consuming the last of the new products the company sent me and as they diversify away from “just” (had to put that in quotes because they are amazing!) jelly beans, it is hard not to wish I had stock in the company. Jelly Belly will never be the candy company that is everything to everyone. But, as the company expands into new niche markets, they seem entirely determined to keep their quality standards very high. With the Jelly Belly Sunkist Fruit Gems, they once again succeed with creating something that is new and different and tastes exactly like it is supposed to.
Jelly Belly fruit slices are little discs of sugar-coated gummy-style candies that are reminiscent of flattened gumdrops. Jelly Belly fruit slices are approximately one and one-quarter inched in diameter by 3/8” thick. These candies are marketed to taste precisely like various fruit flavors and they live up to that to varying degrees once you get by the sugar crystal coating. Actually, they are quite good, but in the assortment – there are five flavors – some stand out more than others.
The Fruit Gems from Jelly Bellys are still very new and thus are only available in small packages like a 3.1 oz. and 6.6 oz. package. This is terribly unenvironmental. To its credit, Jelly Belly has universally bulked every successful product it has made, so one assumes that after the “trial period” for the Fruit Gems is up, they will start releasing a ten pound box that will allow people to stock up at a more affordable and eco-friendly way. That would be nice. As well, the Fruit Gems are currently only available in an assortment. If you fall in love with, for example, the Blueberry Fruit Gems, there is no way to get a package of only Blueberry . . . yet.
Ease Of Preparation
These are fruit slices, not trying to make multiple fruit flavored jams without your hands ever getting sticky! Consuming these is as easy as opening the bag and placing them in your mouth. There is no additional prep needed. There is, however, restraint needed to keep one from just consuming these as soon as they open the bag!
What initially amused me about the Fruit Gems was opening the bag and smelling them. The package features Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Raspberry, and Blueberry Fruit Gems. As it turns out, the scent of all those fruits combines is virtually identical to pomegranates (which I loathe!). Even so, there was an undeniably fruity scent that burst forth from the bag as soon as it was opened and that was enough to make my mouth water.
The Orange Fruit Gems were one of the least scented Fruit Gems in the assortment. They, however, more than made up for that with their flavor. The Orange Fruit Gems taste exactly like sweet Mandarin oranges the moment they hit the tongue. Even the outer coating seems to be flavored with a delightful, citrus taste that is exceptional.
Unlike the Orange, the Lemon Fruit Gems have a distinctive scent to them. The scent of the Lemon Fruit Gems is essentially what companies hope they are making when they make lemon-scented cleaners. The citrus smell is clear and distinctive and it foreshadows the taste well. The flavor of the lemon Fruit Gems is very much a sweetened version of lemon flavoring. What I found most delightful about them was the aftertaste; the aftertaste of the Lemon Fruit Gems is appropriately tart, just like what one expects from a lemon! The way the candy leeches the sweetness out of the mouth after it is consumed makes for a more real flavor, without being overtly sour.
I was most excited about trying the Grapefruit Fruit Gem, though the one in my package had no discernable aroma to it. For some reason, the outer sugar on this flavor seemed more noticeable and almost excessive than the others in the assortment. But, the moment the generic sugar flavor dissipated, there was the citrus bitter, sour flavor of grapefruit and the taste was so real that I actually discovered that my tongue was moving around, making sure there was no pulp stuck between any of my teeth! When the actual surface of the candy (yeah, all that flavor from just the surface!) was broken, there was an additional burst of flavor that embodied grapefruit perfectly well. Ironically, this flavor left my mouth bone dry from the citrus, which only made me feel the flavor was more authentic!
I will admit; it is tough to sell me on Raspberry. I’ve had raspberry gardens and I know how real raspberries taste, as opposed to the manufactured flavor of raspberries. The scent to the Raspberry Fruit Gem made me suspect that Sunkist and Jelly Belly might have created a candy based on the expected flavor of raspberries, instead of the actual flavor raspberries possess. I was pleasantly surprised. The sugar coating on this flavor was a bit overwhelming, but underneath, the candy was fruity and rich in a way that I expect raspberries to be. The raspberry flavor has a “weight” (maybe “force?” is a better word) to it that most raspberry confections lack. That depth of flavor, along with the slightly tart aftertaste landed the Raspberry Fruit Gems in my good graces.
Finally, the assortment has Blueberry. The Blueberry Fruit Gems smell like a blueberry pie and embody a blueberry flavor very well. In fact, outside not finishing with a sour kick, these taste perfectly like blueberries. There’s little else to say about them!
Again, these are fruit slice candies, not actual fruit. Even so, the Fruit Gems come with 10% of one's RDA of Vitamin C and is made with real fruit juices and purees in the recipe. Outside that, it behooves one to realized that fruit slices, even Jelly Belly Fruit Slices, are not a legitimate source of most necessary nutrients. These are a snack food, a dessert, and are in no way an adequate substitute for a real meal. A serving is listed as four Gems (not fair, considering there are four flavors to try!), with each serving having 130 calories. Supposedly, the 3.1 oz. package has “about 2” servings, but mine had two and a half servings with ten pieces. In my bag, there were only one each of the Grapefruit and Blueberry Fruit Gems, with the Lemon and Orange being the most common.
Jelly Belly Fruit Gems are pretty good (especially for a candy) in the nutrition area. They have no fat and no protein, but for those who have ever dated a Vegan, these are Vegan compliant because they contain no gelatin! They have only one percent of the daily sodium with 35 mg and they are gluten free! The main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup and acerola puree, so it actually lives up to its claim of being made from all natural ingredients. As well, these are made in a peanut free factory!
Jelly Belly Sunkist Orange fruit slices have a shelf life of approximately one year, though mine did not last a full half hour after I opened the bag (two very different problems!). They remain freshest when they are kept in an airtight container (the bag is sufficient if it is kept closed and tightly resealed) and they ought to be kept in a lukewarm environment. Storing them in hot places is likely to make the slices stick together and be gross. Kept in a cool, dry place, the Fruit Gems retain their flavor perfectly. The bag I received late last month had a July 2013 expiration date.
As for cleanup, unless one allows the Fruit Gems to get hot to the point that the sugar coating on the slices melts, there should be no cleanup necessary; the sugar did not even come off these in a way that necessitated cleaning up!
Jelly Belly Sunkist Fruit Gems are enough to make me rethink this whole style of candy. While they are competitively priced against other fruit slice style candies, they are still quite a bit more expensive than basic gumdrops. That said, the Fruit Gems justify their expense through a level of flavor I have never before encountered in gumdrop or gummy candies.
For other Jelly Belly candies reviewed by me, please check out:
Grape And Lime Pet Cockroach Gummi Candy
Sunkist Orange Slices
Beanboozled Jelly Bean Assortment
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
The 3.1 oz. bags of Sunkist Fruit Gems are available at Jelly Belly.com! Click here for them!