There are several different types of fruit snack that appeal to various consumers, some of which contain actual fruit and others that may just have fruit flavoring and coloring. For example, children may be more interested in a sugary fruit snack such as a fruit leather, while health-conscious individuals would prefer to stick with fruit cups, dried fruit, fruit bars, and other healthier options. Sugar content, especially added sugar, is always a consideration with any kind of fruit snack, but most types offer “no sugar added” versions.
Fruit leathers are processed, sugary fruit-flavored snacks that have been pressed into thin panels or strips, often with interesting shapes, colors, and varying flavors that appeal to children. Children in school frequently take fruit leathers for lunch because they are easy for busy mothers to pack quickly and do not need to be kept refrigerated or warmed up before eating. As a healthful fruit snack, however, fruit leathers fall short of other options.
Dried fruit and fruit bars provide some individuals the pleasing crunchy or chewy texture that can replace other unhealthful snack options such as chips, and can be comparable to candy with regard to flavor. Health-conscious individuals, however, would do well to avoid a dried fruit snack or fruit bar if it has a lot of sugar added, as sometimes this can make the snack equally or even more unhealthy than other snacks. Even without added sugar, a dried fruit snack or fruit bar is not likely to have the same nutritional value as fresh fruit would, although it is much more durable and easy to prepare and pack in a lunch.
Fruit cups are usually individually sealed servings of fruit in water or sweet syrup that provide the flavor and texture of real fruit while keeping it portable. Individuals who enjoy eating whole fruit but need a way to travel with the snack and avoid the bruising and mushing that real fruit is often subject to often turn to fruit cups as a substitute. As with the other types of fruit snack, one should ideally look for fruit cups packaged with water and no additional sugar as opposed to ones packaged with syrup or added sugary flavors. While fruit cups may be a healthy form of fruit snack, nutritionists almost always agree that, if possible, one should eat real, whole fruits to maximize nutritional content.