Snacks vs. fiction: An investigation of fruit snack flavor ratios

Welch’s Fruit Snacks come in five flavors, but you might not get all five in your bag.
Welch’s Fruit Snacks come in five flavors, but you might not get all five in your bag.
Photo: Mx. Granger/Wikimedia Commons (Fair Use)

Please settle in and get comfortable while we lay some fruit snack facts on you.

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Welch’s Fruit Snacks are, according to Welch’s, “America’s Favorite Fruit Snacks.” They are made with Real Fruit (capitalization Welch’s). They “feature an excellent source of Vitamins A, C & E, No Preservatives and more!” Each pouch of Mixed Fruit Welch’s Fruit Snacks contains the following five flavors:

  • Strawberry
  • White Grape Raspberry
  • Orange
  • White Grape Peach
  • Welch’s® Concord Grape

You might be wondering why only one of these flavors is branded and trademarked. We are! But that’s not the mystery that fruit snack enthusiasts Luke Demi and Ryan Donahue set out to solve earlier this month. Their question was much bigger: Why isn’t there a more equitable ratio of flavors in each pouch of Welch’s Fruit Snacks?

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It’s something that Demi and Donahue, both software engineers, have been pondering for entire years of their lives.

“Ryan and I used to work together back in 2015/2016 and one of the only snacks we got at work for free were these fruit snacks,” Demi told The Takeout via Twitter, “so of course we’re eating five packs a day and started making elaborate ‘smoothie’ combinations, peach and orange, grape and strawberry etc.” They noticed, however, that it was hard to build these smoothie combinations because while there were consistently 13 gummies to each pack, the ratio of flavors in each pouch was suspiciously lopsided in the direction of strawberry and raspberry. They have been tweeting about this travesty for half a decade.

“This quarantine we decided ‘fuck it’ and spent $100 on 800 fruit snack packets to see the true answer,” Demi explained. “Lo and behold... the results are quite skewed!”

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The duo posted a photo and video of their experiment on Twitter, carefully sorting through the 800 packets in a process that Demi confirms took five hours from start to finish:

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The visual disparity between flavors is striking. After 535 packs’ worth of progress, the snack breakdown stood thus:

  • Strawberry: 2,023
  • Raspberry: 1,986
  • Orange: 992
  • Peach: 845
  • Concord Grape [misidentified in the tweets as Blackberry]: 663

So...what’s going on here, exactly? With ratios like that, there’s a good chance that customers can go through an entire pouch of fruit snacks without encountering a single Grape or Peach, flavors to which they are entitled and which are promised on the packaging. Welch’s is including fewer of these flavors per package—but why? Are they more expensive to produce? Is it harder to mold gummies into the shape of a bunch of grapes? No, that can’t be; the raspberry flavor is practically the same shape.

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Once Demi and Donahue had concluded their audit, the response from the Welch’s Fruit Snacks Twitter account was swift but inscrutable:

Wow! What dedication! We do our best to make sure that all packs get an even amount of each variety, but unfortunately sometimes this doesn’t happen. Please DM us with your full name and mailing address so we can send you a coupon for your trouble!

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Demi and Donahue don’t believe this explanation for a second. Statisticians, I invite you all to weigh in here. Nothing about the disparity depicted in the video above looks to be within the normal distribution for a product that allegedly “does its best” to provide a uniform amount of each fruit snack flavor. (And by the way, what does “doing our best” mean in this context, Welch’s? It sounds like the workers on the production line failed in their negotiations with the manufacturing equipment.)

Will our forensic fruit snack experts ever find the answers they seek? Will Welch’s crack and spill its secrets? Will Demi and Donahue’s hard-won coupon be good for a free box of fruit snacks, or merely a 15% discount? We will continue to update this story as it develops.

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Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

I wouldn’t be surprised if they indeed make more of certain flavors based on popularity. on the other hand, the size and shape of the pieces can contribute too; I’d bet that the packs are filled on an automated line with the pieces fed via a hopper of some sort. depending on how the pieces settle (smaller pieces tend to reach bottom first) the distribution could be lopsided. But that would mean there would have to be some packs with mostly peach and grape, so who knows?

edit: or they’re being a bit mealy-mouthed and using “even amount” to mean “most packs will pretty consistently have the same ratio of flavors.”

the next mystery I want solved is why any time I have one of those 2-piece packs of Starburst, they’re almost always lemon and orange (or worse- two lemon?) Who TF wants those two?