CLIF Kid Organic Twisted Fruit

By: Clif Bar & Company

I Paid: 99 cents for a .7-ounce fruit rope (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 4stars

Ever since Fruit Roll-Ups became the industry standard back in the hazy mists of the late ’70s, American food companies have been clamoring for a snack that appeases children with sweet fruity flavor while appeasing parents with, at the very least, the appearance of healthiness.

CLIF is taking a bite of the apple, branching out from its well-established CLIF Bar into the kiddie-snack realm. Organic Twisted Fruit is a 70-calorie rope made of apple purée and juice and pectin, in Mixed Berry, Strawberry, and Tropical Twist varieties, among others.

The fruit snacks are certified organic, and each small rope constitutes one USDA serving of fruit. Moreover, the flavor’s there. The firm but easy-to-chew ropes have a bit more citric bite than you might expect, but there’s a vibrancy and clean taste that is pleasant and entertaining, particularly in the Strawberry flavor. Tropical Twist has a little more funk and a strange (guava?) note to it but isn’t bad; Mixed Berry is a little muted compared to Strawberry but is a nice balance between sweet and tart.

In terms of flavor and ingredient profile, Organic Twisted Fruit stacks up favorably against mainstream competition such as Fruit Roll-Ups and Welch’s Fruit Snacks, which veer more toward the realm of candy. That said, it all comes down to value: At a buck a pop for a 70-calorie minisnack, CLIF Kid Organic Twisted Fruit is the Rolls-Royce of its category.

MolliCoolz Shakers

By: MolliCoolz

I Paid: $1.89 for a 4.2-ounce cup of ice cream beads (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1stars

Marketing: 5stars

MolliCoolz Shakers milk shakes are a good idea. They consist of a plastic cup half-filled with little ice cream beads and topped with a screw-off, wide-mouth lid.

You shake the cup to ensure that the beads separate. Then you fill it most of the way with milk (not included) and shake the hell out of it again for 30 seconds. The result: a milk shake.

That’s the theory, at any rate. The practice is somewhat different. First of all, there’s an unwritten bonus step after you’ve added the milk and shaken vigorously for 30 seconds, and that’s using a spoon to break up the big ol’ mass of half-melted ice cream that floats in the middle of your milk. This is ultimately a small deal, however, and kids like that sort of fiddly stuff anyway. The real problem is the flavor.

The first thing a well-informed taster of a MolliCoolz Shakers Thick & Creamy Milkshake is likely to think is: “What’s that seaweed stuff again? You know, the goop that defines the taste of McDonald’s milk shakes?”

That stuff is carrageenan, which is extracted from seaweed—used in this case to increase the viscosity of the milk shake. Mission accomplished: If MolliCoolz Shakers are anything, it’s viscous, to the point of leaving a double dose of McDonald’s je ne sais quoi sliminess on your tongue. The flavors are blaringly artificial: The Chocolate variety doesn’t even have the kick of Hershey’s Syrup, and the Strawberry is lucky if it tastes like strawberry Quik on a bad day. If you’d never had a real milk shake before, you might enjoy these; but God forbid you taste one once you’re familiar with the real thing.

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