To the delight of kids (and adults who have a major sweet tooth), Fruit Roll-Ups have been around since the early 1980s. Part of General Mills' Betty Crocker brand, Fruit Roll-Ups are one of the brand’s several fruit snack products, but, as you may have suspected, they don't count toward your four to five servings of fruit per day. Read on for nine fun, fruity facts about Fruit Roll-Ups.
1. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR FRUIT ROLL-UPS STARTED IN 1975.
In 1975, General Mills began researching ways to make a fun, sweet fruit treat. The research and development team based the new product on fruit leather, and when Fruit Roll-Ups hit grocery store shelves in 1983, customers could choose between strawberry, apple, cherry, and apricot varieties.
2. A PROLIFIC GENERAL MILLS INVENTOR CREATED FRUIT ROLL-UPS' NONSTICK BACKING.
The main fruit component for Fruit Roll-Ups might get the most notice, but another company inventor contributed the essential non-edible packaging of the snack. Bob Zoss, an inventor at General Mills, created Fruit Roll-Ups’ nonstick backing, which allows kids to easily pull apart the flat sheet of fruit snack from its cellophane backing. During his nearly 40 years at General Mills, Zoss filed five patents, set 58 invention records, and worked on everything from sodium reduction research to quality control in food packaging.
3. PEOPLE SOMETIMES CONFUSE FRUIT ROLL-UPS WITH FRUIT BY THE FOOT.
Because Fruit Roll-Ups are inherently similar to Fruit by the Foot, another Betty Crocker fruit snack, confusion between the two has abounded. Both snacks are sugary, come in bright colors, appeal to kids, and come rolled. Although people debate in online forums and comment sections about the merits of Fruit Roll-Ups versus Fruit by the Foot, many commenters state that they mistakenly always thought the two snacks were the same.
4. THEIR TEMPORARY TONGUE TATTOOS WERE A BIT HIT WITH KIDS.
Kids' food have a long history of including toys or games to pique interest, and Fruit Roll-Ups are no different. Besides offering a variety of flavors and pre-cut shapes to punch out of the roll, in the early 2000s, some Fruit Roll-Ups added edible dye that could be pressed onto the tongue, giving kids cool temporary tongue tattoos. The marketing trick worked. As one 6th grader in Oregon said, "The greatest snack ever invented is Fruit Roll-Ups because there are tongue tattoos that are out of this world."
5. A LAWSUIT POINTED OUT THAT STRAWBERRY FRUIT ROLL-UPS DON'T ACTUALLY CONTAIN STRAWBERRIES.
A consumer watchdog nonprofit, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, recently sued General Mills, claiming that Fruit Roll-Ups' packaging intentionally misled customers into believing that the snack was healthy and made of fruit. In particular, the strawberry flavor of Fruit Roll-Ups contains no actual strawberries—it’s flavored with pear juice concentrate instead—but the box showed an image of a strawberry. In 2012, General Mills agreed to remove images of fruit from Fruit Roll-Ups boxes that didn’t contain the actual fruit.
6. ALTHOUGH KIDS MAY LOVE THEM, DENTISTS DON'T.
Dentists specifically call out Fruit Roll-Ups as being particularly bad for teeth. Because many people think dried fruits and various fruit-flavored snacks are healthier than candy, they don’t realize just how much sugar the fruit products contain. Besides the possibility of eroding enamel from being stuck on the teeth for too long, the chewiness and stickiness of Fruit Roll-Ups can also potentially pull out fillings.
7. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN VERSION OF FRUIT ROLL-UPS.
If you run out of Fruit Roll-Ups or love them so much that you want to try your hand at making your own homemade version, you’re in luck. Chop up your favorite fruit (it can be fresh, frozen, or out of a can), add a sweetener such as sugar or honey, and puree it in a food processor. Spread the puree on a baking sheet and dry the fruit mixture by cooking it in your oven for 6 to 8 hours at 150°F. Slice into strips or blocks with a pizza cutter, and if you wrap it in plastic or parchment paper, you’ll have your own homemade fruit roll-ups.
8. FRUIT ROLL-UPS GOT A SHOUT-OUT ON FRIENDS.
On a 2000 episode of Friends, Chandler tried to avoid a relationship conversation with Monica by asking for a Fruit Roll-Up. Guess even manchildren need afternoon snacks.
9. JEREMY LIN HAS A BASKETBALL JERSEY MADE OF FRUIT ROLL-UPS.
In 2012, General Mills gave Jeremy Lin, a former member of the New York Knicks, a special jersey made entirely of Fruit Roll-Ups. Full "Linsanity" had broken out after Lin, a point guard, led the Knicks to a number of wins. When the newly crowned superstar tweeted about loving fruit snacks, Fruit Roll-Ups responded in kind by making the colorful jersey as well as sending along a gift basket of fruit snacks.