Fruit by the Foot is a popular fruit-flavored snack marketed to kids and adults who are young at heart. But many people wonder just how healthy these sticky, sweet treats really are. In particular, a common question is: how many calories are in a standard Fruit by the Foot?
The Basics of Fruit by the Foot
First, let’s cover some quick background information on Fruit by the Foot. This chewy fruit snack has been around since 1991, originally made by Betty Crocker and later produced by General Mills. The most common flavors are strawberry, cherry, grape, and mixed berry. Each roll is approximately 3 feet long (hence the name) and individually wrapped.
Fruit by the Foot is marketed as a fun snack for kids. The commercials feature children enjoying the fruit strips and being silly. However, Fruit by the Foot has also become popular among adults looking for a nostalgic treat from their childhood.
Nutrition Facts for Fruit by the Foot
Now let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for a standard roll of Fruit by the Foot:
|1 roll (21g)
As you can see, a standard 21 gram roll of Fruit by the Foot contains 80 calories. It has 0 grams of fat, 35 mg sodium, 20 grams total carbohydrate, and 13 grams of sugar.
Breaking Down the Calories
Where do these 80 calories come from? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients list:
- Fruit purees (pear, peach, strawberry, raspberry, orange, grape)
- Corn syrup
- Dried corn syrup
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Citric acid
- Coloring (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Yellow 6)
The main sources of calories in Fruit by the Foot are the fruit purees and the added sugars. Corn syrup, sugar, and dried corn syrup all provide extra sweetness and calories. The gelatin also contributes slightly to the calorie count.
Calories from Natural Sugars
The fruit purees contain natural occurring sugars. During the juicing process that extracts the fruit juice, the natural sugars remain. Fruits like strawberries, cherries, oranges, grapes, peaches, pears, and raspberries all contain natural sugars.
When these juices are concentrated into purees for Fruit by the Foot, the natural sugar levels become more concentrated too. So the fruit purees provide calories from natural fruit sugars.
Calories from Added Sugars
In addition to the natural sugars, Fruit by the Foot also contains added sugars like corn syrup, sugar, and dried corn syrup. These added sweeteners boost the sugar content and calorie count.
Added sugars make up over half the total sugar content. The nutrition label shows 13 grams total sugars in which 7 grams come from added sugars. So the added sugars contribute around 35 extra calories, nearly half the total calories.
How Many Calories from Fat and Protein?
Fruit by the Foot contains zero grams of fat, so there are no calories from fat. There is also minimal protein in the ingredients, so very few calories come from protein.
Almost all the calories come from the total carbohydrates content, which is 20 grams per roll. The majority of carbohydrate calories come from natural and added sugars.
Calorie Count Compared to Whole Fruit
To put the 80 calories into context, here’s how it compares to the calorie count in whole fruits:
- 1 small apple: 95 calories
- 1 cup grapes: 100 calories
- 1 medium banana: 105 calories
- 1 cup strawberries: 50 calories
- 1 cup blueberries: 85 calories
As you can see, the calorie count of an entire Fruit by the Foot roll is similar to eating one piece of whole fruit. But the whole fruits provide more nutrition, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Daily Calorie Needs for Kids
Is 80 calories a lot for a kid’s snack? Here are some guidelines for daily calorie needs for children according to age:
- 2-3 years: 1,000-1,400 calories
- 4-8 years: 1,200-1,800 calories
- 9-13 years: 1,600-2,600 calories
Based on these recommendations, an 80 calorie snack is a reasonable amount for a child’s treat. It should satisfy their hunger while still leaving room for nutritious meals.
Picking Healthy Snacks for Kids
When choosing snacks for kids, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Aim for 100 calories or less per serving
- Include filling fiber from whole grains, fruits or vegetables
- Protein helps them feel satisfied longer
- Limit added sugars to under 10 grams per serving
- Watch out for unhealthy fats from chips, cookies, etc.
- Pair snacks with water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks
Fruit by the Foot can fit into a healthy diet in moderation. Enjoy a roll as an occasional treat, but rely more on snacks like fresh fruits, veggies with hummus, yogurt, and air-popped popcorn.
Health Concerns with Frequent Fruit Snack Consumption
While fine in moderation, there are some potential downsides of children eating Fruit by the Foot or similar fruit snacks frequently or in large amounts:
- Missing out on more nutritious whole foods at snacks and meals
- Risk of excess added sugar intake leading to cavities, weight gain, etc.
- Lack of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to whole fruits
- Food dyes and preservatives excluded from healthier snacks
If your child loves Fruit by the Foot, you may want to set limits on how often they can have it. Or consider healthier snack swaps like dried fruit leathers without added sugars or preservatives.
Serving Size Matters
When enjoying Fruit by the Foot, proper portion size is important too. The nutrition label is based on 1 roll totaling 21 grams. But it can be easy to eat 2-3 rolls in a sitting if you’re not careful.
Eating larger serving sizes will increase the calories, sugar, and preservatives consumed. Stick to a single roll as one snack and avoid mindless overeating directly from the box.
Other Factors that Impact Calories
A few other things to keep in mind that can alter the calorie count:
- Flavor: Different Fruit by the Foot flavors may have slightly varying calorie counts.
- Roll size: Snack packs with shorter rolls contain fewer calories than the extra long rolls.
- Shelf life: Calories may decline over time as the sugars start to break down.
For accuracy, check the nutrition label for the exact product, flavor and roll size you are eating. Don’t rely on generic online listings. Minor variations in calories are possible based on these factors.
Creating Your Own Fruit Leather
Want to make a healthier version at home? You can create DIY fruit leathers by pureeing fresh or frozen produce and drying it out. Here’s one example recipe to try:
Strawberry Fruit Leather
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Wash and hull strawberries, then puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
- Mix in lemon juice and sweetener if desired for taste.
- Spread puree 1/4 inch thick on dehydrator tray or parchment paper.
- Dehydrate at 135°F for 6-8 hours, until dried but still sticky.
- Remove from tray and cut into strips.
Homemade fruit leathers remove preservatives and excess sugars. Plus you control the ingredients. Dehydrating concentrates the fruit flavor and provides a chewy, candy-like texture kids love.
The Bottom Line
So how many calories are in a Fruit by the Foot? A standard 21 gram roll contains around 80 calories, mainly from natural and added sugars. This makes it a decent portable snack for kids in moderation. But limit frequency to avoid excess sugar. And pair it with more nutritious whole foods for a balanced diet.