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A fruit snack is a processed food eaten as a snack in the United States. Well known manufacturers of chewy fruit snacks include Welch's, Kelloggs, and General Mills. Fruit snacks gained popularity from their convenience and affordability. Most are stored in a simple plastic packaging that does not need to be refrigerated; therefore they can be taken virtually anywhere. However, they do have an expiration date. They are generally not made from fruit, but rather from sugar and fruit juice flavoring, or artificial flavoring. One exception is fruit leather, which is normally made from pureed, dried fruit.
Fruit snacks are linked to ancient times when it was realized that dried up bits of fruit made both nutritional and delicious snacks. Egyptians also created a type of fruit leather. Eventually, these dried up fruits began adding themselves to different kinds of confections. With the development of baking, incorporating fruit into treats became even more popular.
The first urbanized civilization of Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago harnessed water for irrigation canals, enabling lush fruit gardens to burst from otherwise dry land. The cornucopia of these harvests included tree fruits such as apples, pears, plums, pomegranates, quinces, apricots and cherries. Southern Mesopotamia grew dates, which were rich in sugar and iron. When fresh or dried, most of these fruits were easy snacks, and they also were included in meals, particularly during cold months when crops and vegetation lay fallow.
Likely the forerunner of the modern fruit snack is the dried fig paste rolled between two sheets of papyrus during ancient Egypt's Third Dynasty (2681-2613 BCE). The easily portable fig paste became a valuable trade item securing it as an early global snack.
Betty Crocker via General Mills
General Mills owner of Betty Crocker products, which introduced the first Fruit Corners Fruit Roll-Ups in 1975, set a precedent in world snacking. By the mid-1980s, the fruit snack was a multimillion-dollar business. However, the first fruit gummies, the best known kind, were not created until the 1980s.
Although mainly known for grape juice, Welch's is one of the most famous brands of fruit in modern society. Welch's makes a variety of fruit snacks. These snacks are made of processed fruit. Some are gummied and some are jellied. These fruit snacks are very popular but cost more than raw fruit.