Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sunkist Fruit Gems

imageYou may not have caught the news recently that Ben Meyerson Candy Company was purchased by Jelly Belly. They aren’t known for much in the chocolate realm except for Christopher’s Big Cherry and in the sugar world, the Sunkist Fruit Gems.

I came across the Fruit Gems at Rite Aid and thought I should give them a go again. I used to buy them from Trader Joe’s in little tubs, but then I discovered the chocolate covered nuts and never went back. I figure the Gems are a bit like the West Coast version of Chuckles. But really they’re not. Chuckles are all essence and no juicy tang. When you’re branding something with the Sunkist name, I’m expecting a tangy juice.

imageWhat’s really interesting about these is how they differ from other jellies covered with sugar. Instead of having a rough outer coating, these are practically smooth, with the sugar mushed against the jelly center. They don’t sparkle quite as much, but then again there’s no little bits of sugar left in the package or crumbling off when you bite into them like you might get with Spearmint Leaves or Orange Slices.

Orange - it is tangy, nice rounded orange flavor. Not terribly vivid, more like pleasant.

Cherry - very cherry, kind of medicinal tasting. There was a long-lasting aftertaste with severe bitter notes. (Oddly enough, the package makes no mention of Cherry on the package, just a list of the other flavors.)

Lemon - mmm, zesty and tart and smooth. I love lemon.

Grapefruit - not that strong and with a slight bitter note that makes it believable.

Lime - yeah, lime.

Raspberry  - floral with only the slightest sour bite. Again, it had a little bitter aftertaste, like the color red.

Jelly Belly will start making these soon, I’m not sure if they’re going to leave them alone or not. Jelly Belly has its own line of fabulous Fruit Pectin Jellies that I was blown away by last year. The Jelly Belly jellies are vegan (they use beet sugar instead of cane sugar), so it’s possible that Sunkist Fruit Gems will also become vegan as well (it’s hard to know whether they are or not right now).

My biggest complaint with these is that like Lifesavers, there is no variation in what you get in the pack. Starbursts and SweeTarts are variable, so you might get a lemon-heavy pack. And with the little see-through package, I might be more likely to pick up a citrus-heavy package. As it is, there are only three flavors I really liked here (orange, lemon and grapefruit), so I’ll probably continue to pass on these. Unless I see them in the tub at Trader Joe’s and it’s all citrus!

Sunkist Fruit GemsUPDATE 9/2/2008: An alert reader let me know that the little “single serve” trays are back on store shelves with the Jelly Belly logo on them, but instead of holding six fruit jellies, they now only have four.

Worst part of this news? The grapefruit one was missing. (What is it about grapefruit disappearing lately? Is it because of the news that grapefruit juice interacts with some prescription drugs?) This is not to say that the Sunkist Fruit Gems don’t come in grapefruit any longer, just not in this particular package.

Sunkist Fruit GemsThe flavors included now are: Orange, Lemon, Lime and Raspberry. The old package was 2.4 ounces, the new one is only 1.35 ounces.

Seeing how Sunkist is known as a citrus company, the fact that they made an assortment the neglects one of the citrus fruits and includes a berry is beyond me. The package is also similar to the old one and actually includes images of grapefruit (though the text clearly says which flavors are in the package).

The change in manufacturing location and ownership, as far as I’ve been able to tell, has made no difference at all for the actual candy. It’s still a nice, soft and flavorful fruit jelly without too much of a granulated sugar coating.

The only real difference here is that you get only 2/3 as much as you used to. I was hoping when Jelly Belly took over that they’d sell the jellies in individual flavors like they do with their famous jelly beans. No such luck yet. (For now whenever I see the Jelly Belly booth at a trade show I pick a half a dozen grapefruit jellies out of their sample bin and move along.)

Product: Sunkist Fruit Gems
Previous Review: November 15, 2006
Change: New owners (Jelly Belly) and smaller package
Result: I didn’t care much for raspberry or lime, so with such a small package and only two pieces I do like it’s not worth it. 4 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Revisit: Take 5, Sunkist Fruit Gems & Snickers Almond
  2. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  3. Sunkist Fruit Gummies
  4. Jelly Belly Pomegranate
  5. Big Candy Buyouts - Hershey & Jelly Belly
Name: Sunkist Fruit Gems
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Ben Meyerson Candy Company (soon to be Jelly Belly)
Place Purchased: Rite Aid (Echo Park)
Price: $.69
Size: 2.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 88
Categories: Jelly, United States, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:12 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Not being a vegan, I wonder…Why is cane sugar not considered vegan?

    Comment by Julilla on 11/15/06 at 12:48 pm #
  2. I was wondering the same thing about cane vs. beet. I looked up the process by which sugar is extracted to see if animal products were used but it doesn’t appear that they are so I’m curious about an explanation as well.

    Back on the main topic though, I wish the Sunkist gems came in all of one flavor packs so I could get only orange. That may be possible in the U.S. but not in the import shops in Japan

    Comment by Shari on 11/15/06 at 2:24 pm #
  3. I love fruit gems.  I believe these got shorted on their rating.  Even the ones that are flavors I don’t like are good.

    Comment by Dave on 11/15/06 at 2:51 pm #
  4. Julilla and Shari - It’s not technically vegan because the sugar is processed through bone char, a kind of refining char coal made of, you guessed it, animal bone. So there’s no animal product in the sugar itself, but it’s how it got there as it is. =]

    Comment by Julia on 11/15/06 at 4:25 pm #
  5. I love fruit gems. Especially the grapefruit ones. If I could buy a whole package of those, I would. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them at TJ’s.

    Comment by g on 11/16/06 at 5:01 am #
  6. Cybele's avatar

    I think we should all get together and divvy up our favorite flavors. I’ll take the Lemon ones, G can have the Grapefruit, Shari can have the Lemon and whatever no one likes can go to Dave!

    Julia - thanks for popping in with the explanation about Cane Sugar. The weird thing is that I’d think companies that use Beet Sugar would simply say so, if only to get the vegan customers (if there are no other animal products).

    Comment by Cybele on 11/16/06 at 1:40 pm #
  7. My friends and I love those Fruit Jems, but we can no longer find them in Kansas City, any idea how we could order these?

    Comment by brandy on 11/17/06 at 8:39 am #
  8. I’m having these today fresh from Trader Joe’s and wow, the raspberry are ultra-sooper-dooper-floral, just like what you said the raspberry M & M’s are like.  The floral thing is such a turnoff.  What were they thinking with this?  Yuck.  I am avoiding the red ones with all of my might.

    Comment by Heidi on 9/29/07 at 10:22 am #
  9. I’m looking for the boxed varieties in Michigan, near the Detroit area.  My grandmother, who had purchased them regularly (I can’t figure where), passed recently and I would like to share a memory with my siblings this holiday season.  Please advise.  PS:  I like the orange.

    Comment by AJ.C on 12/22/07 at 5:04 pm #
  10. What’s with the price! These things have gone through the roof! Did Jelly Belly add cocaine?

    Comment by Billy on 1/27/08 at 7:14 am #
  11. the url I have stated is for the company. This is the direct sales for Jelly Belly. and the Sunkist Fruit Gems. 

    I am trying to find one in my area of New Jersey.
    Most run out very fast due to the Jewish population within my area.  (Sunkist Fruit gems are Kosher. So there is a run of them due to a holiday).

    Comment by Frank on 10/15/08 at 8:05 am #
  12. can onlyfind these at Crackder Barrel does any other place in Tampa Florida carry these?  I used to be able to get them at Wal-Mart

    Comment by Jane on 6/14/09 at 11:52 am #
  13. Just wanted to note that I always buy these (Sunkist Fruit Gems) at the BJ’s discount warehouse (, where I can pick up a 1.5 lb container of (about 68) individually wrapped pieces for $7.99.  It’s one of the things I give out free at the office, so large, relatively inexpensive quantities are a must.  Oh, and grapefruit is the least preferred flavour.

    Comment by Bruce on 7/10/09 at 5:38 am #
  14. The grapefruit flavor was hands down the best.  If I could buy straight grapefruit I’d do it in a second.  If they dropped that flavor, I won’t buy it.

    Comment by jeff on 11/14/10 at 7:20 pm #
  15. Just to let everyone know, I was looking to buy just the lime flavor and went to their website and discovered something. It looks like they have dropped the cherry flavor and put the grapefruit back in. Just wanted to let you know! Still waiting for single flavors!

    Comment by Rigby on 1/06/12 at 12:31 pm #
  16. I need to find the individually wrapped Sunkist Fruit Gems in the Sacramento area.  I only need about 2 pounds.  Can someone give me a hint as to where I can buy the Gems in my area?  I need them by the end of this week (December 14th, 2012).

    Thank You

    Comment by Harvey Canter on 12/10/12 at 10:41 pm #
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