Should Snapple Sorbet Bars Disclose They Contain Absolutely No Fruit?

Fruit-flavored snacks are notorious for their lack of fruit content, but most items with “sorbet” in the name at least use some fruit juice or fruit base. And one might look at the box for Snapple Sorbet Bars and think that the phrase “naturally flavored” implies some fruit content. But a look at the ingredients panel says otherwise.

There are only three main ingredients listed on the box — water, sugar, maltodextrin — with the following listed under the heading of “contains less than 2%”: natural flavor, pectin, citric acid, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate.

While nothing on the ingredients list seems incredibly bizarre, Lisa at Snack-Girl.com takes issue with the lack of any sort of fruit in the bars.

“There is a photograph on the box of fruit and the words ‘mango,’ and ;strawberry’ grace the front of the box – but THERE IS ZERO mango or strawberry in the bars,” she writes.

Back in 2009, following controversy surrounding the company’s use of “all natural” to describe a product that contains high fructose corn syrup, Snapple changed its recipe to replace HFCS with cane sugar.

But we wanted to know from the Consumerist hive mind if it’s misleading for Snapple to sell sorbet bars without any fruit content:

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  1. HFC says:

    Snapple Sorbet Bars, not Snapple Fruit Sorbet Bars or Snapple Sorbet Bars with real fruit.

    • FilthyHarry says:

      “Sorbet (/sÉ”rˈbeɪ/) is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit (typically juice or puree)”

      • HFC says:

        “contains less than 2%”: natural flavor” Compliant.

        • FilthyHarry says:

          That natural flavor isn’t fruit though. Sorbet contains fruit.

          • HFC says:

            Sorbet doesn’t always contain fruit pieces, as your definition states, it is typically juice or puree. The sweetened water is indeed flavored with fruit, as per its ingredient list.

            • Charmander says:

              What fruit? Where? All I read is: natural flavor (that could be vanilla for all we know), pectin, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.

          • TheMansfieldMauler says:

            The term sorbet is unregulated in the US. The common definition doesn’t apply in a legal sense, so they can call anything that.

            • zandar says:

              so what if they are in compliance? that’s a narrow interpretation of “should.” Customers historically haven’t appreciated marketing that seems to be an attempt to pull something over on them. So I say this is a bad business move, therefore they should not do it. Why shouldn’t they? Because there is no fruit in their sorbet bars.

  2. angelmvm says:

    The best “stuff” (preservative laced sugar water) that money can buy….

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Yes, I used to be Snapple loyalist back in college before I actually read the label. I just assumed it was “good” for you since it was iced tea. Then I realized I might as well drink a Mountain Dew. Now I pretty much drink black coffee, water, and Honest Tea.

  3. FilthyHarry says:

    Of course any consumer who cares should check the ingredients, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for the manufacturer to mislead. Pictures of fruit on the box, names of fruit and the word Sorbet itself is a food that is flavored with fruit. If there is no fruit in the product they are being very misleading.

    • chefboyardee says:

      Misleading is not illegal, misrepresenting by saying “contains real fruit” when it doesn’t is.

      In this case, it’s a matter of consumers needing to be smarter than what they’re eating. If you honestly think something like this has fruit, and eat it on that premise without checking the ingredients, that’s your own fault.

      Maybe I’m just jaded because that’s the world we live in, but honestly, it’s up to you to check the ingredients if you care about the ingredients. I don’t care about the Wikipedia definition of “sorbet”, or pictures of fruit on the box. The FIRST thing I do when I buy a new product is flip the box over and read the ingredient list.

      Is it misleading? Sure, I guess, if you don’t know to do your research on the things you buy. Would I like them to disclose on the front “contains no real fruit!” – of course. Do I *expect* them to, and are they required to? Absolutely not, to both. What I want, and what they’re required to do, are two completely different things.

      Trix is not only “fruit flavored”, but the pieces used to be fruit SHAPED when I was a kid. That doesn’t mean I thought they had fruit in them (and they don’t).

  4. AllanG54 says:

    So the stuff that’s in it is the “best stuff on earth?” That’s frightening.

    • Gman says:

      Aha! but that tagline is underneath the “Snapple” branding. Not the contents of the package. Clearly telling that the brand name “snapple” text and logo is “made from the best stuff on earth”. not the ingredients themselves.

      Those are just naturally flavored with no artificial sugars.

  5. Vox Republica says:

    On a hot summer’s day, I open my freezer and reach for a Snapple FDA Compliant Frozen Ingredient Slurry. Mmm-mmm, just like mom’s processed foods conglomerate used to make.

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    If it’s not fruit then what the heck is the “natural flavoring?”

    • who? says:

      The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Interesting, and thank you.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        The kicker there is words like “enzymolysis” which allows substances produced in a lab from petroleum to be called “natural flavor” because the molecule is the same. I know it really shouldn’t matter how it’s made if the end product molecule is the same but it does surprise people when they find out that “natural” banana flavor may not have originated with a banana tree. Some other countries don’t allow this and make you call that artificial flavor.

        • Charmander says:

          Brings back memories of college science lab where we made banana flavor, with no bananas.

          • AtlantaCPA says:

            All I remember from that lab was how to remember the name of those odoriferous molecules: Ester the Nose Molester!

  7. kranky says:

    I would expect most people to believe “sorbet” contains fruit or fruit juice. The picture of fruit would not convince me it contains fruit. The names of fruits on the box would not convince me it contains fruit. The word “sorbet” would, though.

    But I’m sure there is no legal definition of “sorbet”, so it’s Loophole City for Snapple. I guess they feel “natural flavor” = contains fruit, therefore it’s OK to call it sorbet.

  8. Bagels says:

    i’m not always one to beat the ‘make it yourself at home’ drum, but with stuff like this and smoothies- its so easy (and cheap) to do, it just seems ridiculous not to. for what mcdonalds or jamba juice charges for a smoothie i can buy a container of strawberries, blueberries, bunch of bananas and a carton of yogurt. and making homemade sorbet/ice is not difficult either.

    • bennilynn says:

      My crappy blender never gets the consistency right, though. I’m okay with paying extra for a frozen fruit smoothie or sorbet thing where it’s blended properly and the ice correctly pulverized. Plus, I hate the clean up that comes with attempting to make them at home.

      But, if I’m going to party extra, I want the real deal.

      • bennilynn says:

        If I’m going to pay extra, too.

        • Hephaestus says:

          As an easy cleanup, directly right after you use the blender, fill it with water and just blend the water at the max setting. It will clean up the whole entire base+blades and get rid of most of the debris. Then, all you need to do is use a wet paper towel to clean up anything that remains. Easy. :P

      • bennilynn says:

        If I’m going to pay extra, too.

  9. Coffee says:

    This is misleading. Yes, the ingredients are on the box, but we should have to be Hercule fucking Poirot to figure out whether a manufacturer is using actual fruit in sorbet bars.

  10. coffee100 says:

    How about six rounds of litigation over it? Isn’t that what happens in a society that abandons basic decency?

    Let’s have a big lawsuit and start filing 2000-page motions. Charge it to the taxpayers. Let Snapple vigorously defend their legal interests for oh, eight years or so. Sequester the jury too. That’s always a nice touch.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the jury verdict allowed Snapple to print bald-faced LIES on their packaging and back it up with legal precedent? It could say “SO ORDERED BY THE HONORABLE COURT this product contains CASH, JEWELS and 68 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF MANGO. If you disagree, send your address so we can have you served with contempt papers.”

  11. SamiJ says:

    Snapple Fruit-flavored sorbet bars.

  12. Blueskylaw says:

    Hey kids, what flavor of Snapple Sorbet do you want?

    RED!!!

  13. Jane_Gage says:

    Once I got Panera soup from the store, lobster bisque. The only thing resembling seafood in it was “fish-flavored powder.”

  14. CrazyEyed says:

    When you by cherry soda with a picture of a cherry on the front, should you reasonably expect it has real cherry juice in it? No. Do you still expect it to taste like cherry? Yes. If I buy half and half, is Arnold Palmer supposed to come with it since he’s pictured on the front? What about fruit flavored gum? Many times gum packets have fruit splashed all over when there’s not even a hint of fruit to be found.

    Where does it say on the box that it contains fruit? Nowhere except the fact that it contains 2% natural flavor which in some cases comes from fruit via extracts. Someone inserted a definition in the earlier posts.

    I think we can all agree that “Fruit Punch” is a common flavor that typically does not contain real fruit. I voted No and apparently fell in the minority. However, if you are a responsible parent, you are looking at labels anyway right?

    I can all but guarantee the main ingredient in a lot of similar products marketed to kids is water and sugar. Why is this one any different? Its not sold as a fruit bar, but a sorbet bar. Hell, sometimes “Fruit Punch” is simply sugar and water. Where’s that outrage?

    • amuro98 says:

      Unlike “Arnold Palmer” or “Girl Scout Cookies” (which aren’t even made with real Girl Scouts!), “Sorbet” is defined in the dictionary as a frozen dessert that is made with fruit and fruit juice.

      So yes, if Snapple says “Here’s our sorbet!” I would expect fruit to be the main ingredient.

      As for Fruit Punch you’ll notice that the packaging always says FRUIT PUNCH and then in small letters “juice drink” or “juice cocktail drink”. “Juice drink” tells you it’s not pure juice. Confusing? Yes. Especially since a lot of other drinks will say “Contains pure juice!” but then you look on the ingredients list and find out they’re made from concentrate.

      • CrazyEyed says:

        Which dictionary…Wikipedia? Yeah I looked that up and read the same thing. Some dictionaries also list Sorbet contents as: egg whites and milk. So all the “legit” sorbets have to have egg whites too? The definition changes depending on the source so I don’t believe for a second there is an official sorbet definition. Little hard to define prepared foods anyway as nearly every brand of prepared food is made different from the next.

        Just look at this definition I got from thefreedictionary.com: A frozen dessert similar to a frappé, usually made from fruit juice and having a mushy consistency.

        “Usually” doesn’t imply always and mushy consistency could be anything.

        Here’s another one I found: sorbet – an ice containing no milk but having a mushy consistency; usually made from fruit juice.

        This one says no milk..huh but the other one said milk and egg whites

        And this one from Merriam Webster: a usually fruit-flavored ice served as a dessert or between courses as a palate refresher .

        Key word, “Fruit Flavored” and “usually”

  15. longfeltwant says:

    They shouldn’t change the ingredients, nor should they add words explaining there is no fruit, instead they should cease and desist their flagrantly fraudulent false advertising by removing any mention of fruit from the box: no fruit-themed “flavors”, no pictures of fruit on the box. The false advertising is the problem, and no amount of warnings can make up for it.

  16. ajv915 says:

    I think it’s misleading the way snack-girl’s ‘About’ section goes out of the way to say that she is a PhD. But doesn’t explain in what field. It also doesn’t mention exactly what has been published by her or by whom.

    I am very mislead to believe her credentials. I have also been mislead to believing she is a medical professional.

  17. Simon Barsinister says:

    Who cares what they call it. If I can’t picture it growing or running away from me I don’t eat it. Anyone who looks at this box and thinks they are getting something healthy is in need of so much help that a change of label isn’t going to save them.

  18. Jawaka says:

    I subscribe to the Vermont Maple Syrup association’s advertising philosophy. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to put an ingredient in a product’s name or in their advertising unless it’s the primary ingredient in the product.

    • CrazyEyed says:

      What if it says “Vermont Maple Flavored” on the label?

      • Jawaka says:

        Then I’d expect a clear disclosure on the front of the box indicating that it only tastes like maple and isn’t real maple.

        Its become too easy and acceptable to be misleading in advertising and standards need to be tightened.

      • Coffee says:

        I would expect a hyphen.

  19. zz9 says:

    In the UK the law is if it doesn’t have apple, strawberry, cherry etc in it then it isn’t allowed to have a picture of an apple, strawberry, cherry etc on the box. Simple. (There is actually a specific percentage, so they can’t put 0.0002% strawberry in and slap a picture on the box either)

  20. Snack Girl says:

    Thanks so much for featuring my post. I am saddened by even having to write about such misleading marketing. For me, this was just over the top in its deception.

  21. framitz says:

    I called Snapple out on their bright RED apple juice which was some diluted something with intense color added.

    I got a defensive, snotty response. So no more Snapple products for me, they get only ONE CHANCE and they blew it.

    Best stuff on Earth, my ass.

  22. stooj says:

    Am I the only one who just assumes that there’s no fruit in it, unless they specifically say that there is on the front of the package?

  23. Jawaka says:

    I’m tired of seeing Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice drinks that are 80% grape and apple juices.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Ocean Spray has become less cranberry-y in recent years. It used to be quite dark in color; now it is nearly transparent. It also tastes less sour.

  24. wade says:

    Where’s the option for “have the government ban sales of it in any container larger than 16 oz. because you’re too stupid to know what’s good for you?”

  25. Cerne says:

    It’s simple: if you’re too stupid and/or lazy to read the ingredients list on the back of the box you don’t deserve to know what’s in your food.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      I never read the ingredients label. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and nuts don’t have ingredients lists.

  26. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    These are those crappy tubes that you stick in the freezer. They are essentially frozen Kool-Aid. I would never expect those kinds of things to contain any fruit. I also don’t expect sorbet to have certain ingredients in it unless it says real fruit sorbet. I would still read the label as I do with most things I buy. I do take offense with them saying that it’s made with the best stuff on Earth. I highly doubt that sugar, water, pectin, etc.. can be considered the best stuff on Earth. That saying does imply high quality ingredients are used.

  27. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Should Snapple Sorbet Bars Disclose They Contain Absolutely No Fruit?”

    They did…in the ingredients list. If you’re too stupid to realize this, you’re too stupid to be attempting to live on your own outside the orphanareum.