Friday, August 30, 2019

Brothers All-Natural Banana Fruit Crisps (Dollar Tree)

The perfect snack for when you crave bananas, but find yourself stranded in outer space.
Has Dollar Tree always had these healthy snack options? I wouldn't know, because I try to avoid that section of any store like the plague, but at the request of my wife for some dried fruit, decided to see what options they had. And what a selection! Dried apples, dried mixed fruits, dried peaches...all with real fruit and no added ingredients. This is definitely not the Dollar Tree snack area I remember visiting!

A little separate from the other, more typical, dried fruits, was this gem: freeze dried bananas! I'm sure such a thing has always existed, but I've never seen them anyway: all I've ever seen are banana chips. Those are good, don't get me wrong, but I had so many as a kid that even to this day I quickly get sick of them after one or two handfuls. And, while they might taste like bananas to a certain degree, they don't taste much like actual ones—who knew things like taste could get lost in the translation when you suck all the liquid out of a fruit and then bake them? Even though this trip was mostly for my wife, I plunked a bag of these in the cart as a little treat for me.

The poor bag barely had any time to get acclimated to its new surroundings of my house before I feverishly ripped it open and began to dig in. So, how were they?

We'll find out in a little bit, but in order to build up more suspense, let me preface this by saying that there is no possible way that a dried fruit snack is ever going to be as good as the real thing. Especially in the case of fruits like apples and peaches, where the juice is a big part of the taste (and experience) of eating it in the first place. It'd be like eating freeze-dried watermelon...all you'd be left with is the physical essence of a watermelon devoid of the very thing that makes a watermelon a watermelon.

Bananas, though, have the advantage of not being particularly watery to begin with, thus making their exclusion from the typical lists of freeze dried fruits kind of intriguing. After all, it seems that most of the flavor would be retained, right?

Based on these, the answer is “yes”, with “most” being the key word here. I'd compare the taste to banana baby food, where it tastes enough like banana to satisfy a sweet craving, but doesn't taste enough like banana to ever be a substitute for the real thing. Still, freeze dried fruits aren't trying to replace actual fruits: they're just basically trying to be portable versions of fruits on the go. If you're out running, chances are you're not going to stop the chaos of your day to put a banana in your purse, take it out and unpeel it later when you need a snack, and then start chomping down on that thing in public.

These even manage to retain some of the texture, starting off as a slightly crunchy soft powder, and then partially reconstituting itself once it mixes with saliva, leading to a slimy finish that's slightly akin to eating the real thing, but with no messy peel to dispose of. (Although the sliminess is a little more pronounced here, and might be a legitimate turn-off for people who are easily weirded out by gross textures.)

Curiously, the other freeze dried fruits that Dollar Tree carries (which, granted, are from a different brand) give you .71 oz. of fruit, while the bananas remove a tenth of an ounce, taking them down to .59 oz. This still gives you about the equivalent of one medium-sized banana in the package, which is the perfect amount for a quick snack, and a solid value for the dollar asking price. These definitely won't be near the top of my Dollar Tree grocery list very often, especially when you can get 2 lbs. of the actual fruit at most supermarkets, but I would certainly get these again as a change-up in the future.

Overall: 7/10. These won't replace the mess, thrill, or flavor of eating a real banana, but Brother's All Natural Freeze Dried Banana Fruit Crisps are a nice, occasional alternative to eating the real thing. The banana flavor is reminiscent of banana baby food, with a distinct banana flavor that's far less intense than eating the fruit that it's based on. The texture starts of crunchy, as most freeze dried snacks are, and then builds to an almost slimy finish that comes close to accurately capturing the thrill of eating an actual banana, but when you stop to think that it's your spit that's reconstituting it to give it that slick texture, it gets kind of gross. Still, if you can prevent your mind from wandering, this is a great step in the opposite direction from the kinds of snacks Dollar Tree is mostly known for carrying, and a pretty affordable entry into the world of freeze-dried snacks.

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