Supermarket finds: Beyond The Orchard apple slices

Beyond the orchard apples

Compliments Beyond The Orchard Apple Slices (pictured above right with an unprocessed Pink Lady for comparison) are the most wastefully-packaged food product I’ve ever seen. It’s part of the Compliments Junior Disney line of prepared foods from Sobeys, which is supposed to feature “healthier, tasty, and fun foods that are designed specifically for kids.” You know it’s good if it’s in a package and Disney says it’s tasty! Although the CJD (hmm, where have I seen that acronym before?) line-up includes some prepackaged fruit and vegetables, it’s quite heavy on processed convenience foods like frozen pancakes, “Mickey Burgers,” pizza, and so on. The idea is to appeal to picky eaters. Hey, here’s an idea: why not serve real food instead of frozen pizza? Most kids of my generation think that frozen pizza sucks, and for good reason: it does suck. No amount of branding will ever change that. But frozen pizza is a whole other post.

I first saw Beyond the Orchard apple slices in the local Sobeys in early January, but didn’t see it again until mid-March. They’ve been in stock steadily since then, so presumably people are buying them. This package­­­­—a plastic box containing five individual sealed wrappers—contains just 285 grams of sliced apples, equivalent to about one and a half regular-sized apples. Each package contains seven very small apple wedges that together represent about one quarter of an apple. While I understand that this product may appeal to parents with young children who only eat half an apple or less at a sitting, it simply doesn’t excuse the overpackaging. If your children can’t (or won’t) eat a whole apple, then buy smaller apples or slice up an apple and eat half yourself. If the kids don’t like apples, try something else. Why does every problem have to be solved by plastic these days?

Ready-to-eat applesThe apple variety isn’t identified on the packaging, but they look like Fuji or Royal Gala. It’s hard to tell because they taste a little off, with a distinct non-apple chemical aftertaste. The odd taste must come from the processing or packaging, although the ingredients list  shows only apples and calcium ascorbate as a preservative. I actually feel sorry for kids who grow up thinking that apples come in little plastic packages and taste like this. Would I buy it again? Never. I didn’t even really want to buy it this time, but scientific curiosity carried the day.

Amusingly, each of the little packages carries a “ready to eat” label. Yeah, unlike regular apples that require hours of preparation.

(Quick note to the eagle-eyed: Yes, the best-before date on the package is March 24, and no, that doesn’t account for the odd taste of the apples. I conducted my taste test around March 20, and have only just gotten around to writing it up and assembling the pictures.)

4 Replies to “Supermarket finds: Beyond The Orchard apple slices”

  1. It’s the calcium ascorbate that makes it taste that way. It’s bitter and astringent. They’re likely Fuji apples because they have a long shelf-life.

    I thought your pre-hard-boiled egg article was disgusting, but this is pretty nasty.

  2. No flavour indeed, poika. I’ve been planning an update post on the flavour thing for a while now. It should be out the door later this week or next week. In short, I don’t really miss most of the things I’ve given up. Others have been a little harder to shake.

  3. I have a two-year old who will only eat food out of a neat looking container or bag (I’m not kidding), so I suppose I understand the appeal here. Toddlers are completely unreasonable and maddening that way, especially when you add in the fact that they require very little food to survive. Moms (especially those that work full-time) are desperate to find ways to shave off five minutes everyplace that is possible so they can spend more quality time with their children. Also, convenience packaging of actually healthy food would be theoretically helpful at places like the zoo where french fries are the only predominant vegetable. Sometimes toddlers randomly enter into an emergency snacking situation, where you find yourself unprepared and required to purchase something immediately to stop the screaming.

    That all being said, these apple slices are useless. They do taste like crap, having sampled them, and the same product can be accomplished (in a much tastier format) using a knife, an apple, and a tablespoon of orange juice (ascorbic acid, i.e., Vitamin C, prevents apples and pears from turning brown and mushy). However, you must sacrifice five minutes to do this. My solution: slip-on shoes will account for the difference.

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