Aaaah, fruit and gel bowls. For some reason, they used to be one of my favorite snacks to have in the house, but high prices for the name brand forced me to give that up. Then, when Aldi started carrying them a few years back, I jumped on the chance to try one…and was vastly disappointed. It was atrocious. They’ve gotten a lot better since, but just that history is enough to make me never even think to get them when I’m there.
Enter Dollar Tree, the foremost purveyor of fine, inexpensive foods. Actually, most of the edible stuff I’ve gotten from there has been pretty terrible, and the thought of getting something even Aldi had troubles with made me twice as nervous. But what kind of reviewer would I be if I refused to try things, or let personal preferences get in the way? Actually, I was very, very apprehensive about trying it, especially when I saw that you get three cups for only $1. Thirty three cents a cup has even Aldi beat, if I recall correctly, so my hopes were pretty much dashed from the outset.
They look like the normal brand, down to the same kind of cup used, so that’s pretty reassuring. The top even came off easier than the national brand…every single time I open one of the major brand versions up, I end up spraying juice all over the place, because there’s a thick layer of syrup at the top. This didn’t have that, though I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. It smells nothing at all like black cherry or fruit, which had my already hesitant demeanor scrambling for the exits…was it too late to back down now?
Ever the trooper, though, I forced some down my throat. Hmm…not very good, were my initial thoughts. Off-brand gelatin for some reason never tends to get it right, and this was no exception. I took another bite, and waited for some kind of gross aftertaste, or chemical flavor to enter my mouth. But it never did. In fact, I’ve got to say that it’s better than I thought it would be. Yet before you go printing that quote off and featuring it prominently on the packaging, let me say this: I was expecting it to not be edible.
The “black cherry” gelatin certainly isn’t really all that accurate, but it tries, so points must be given for that. The fruit in the middle is curiously still crunchy…the only kind I’ve gotten of the main brand recently is the mandarin oranges in orange gel (my favorite), so I’m not sure if the fruit in their black cherry version is crunchy or not, but it’s always mushy in the orange. The pieces are pretty small, but I wasn’t expecting to get premium fruits for a buck…I’m sure it’s just cheap canned tropical fruit, which I don’t tend to like. It tastes good enough here, though, and is better than the gel, so I can’t complain all that much.
Definitely not something I’d ever feel the need to stock up on, but for an occasional snack, it’s passable.
Overall: 5.5/10. It’s better than I thought it’d be, but considering I didn’t expect it to be edible, well…that’s not saying much. The (canned) mixed fruit in the middle of the gel concoction is curiously still crunchy, which is a little weird. Also weird is the black cherry gelatin, which at least looks like gelatin, but doesn’t taste much like black cherry; it’s not offensive, but it’s not good, either. Much to my surprise, there are no weird, chemically aftertastes, so it gets some added points for that. And offering up three bowls for $1 is some pretty good value. I’d reluctantly get it again if I had to, but considering I don’t see a possible situation where that would happen, this may very well be the only time I ever get these.