I have always been indifferent to the allure of the fruit sliced jelly candies. I don't dislike them, but I certainly don't go out of my way for them. In fact this is the only box I think I have ever purchased specifically for myself.
But they always seem to be present at a Passover Seder. I understood, from an ingredients standpoint, why the candy is a popular Passover treat. It's sweet, and contains no chometz. It's not that they don't taste good enough; it's just that I just wanted to know why they were so popular.
As I sadly have no wise and all-knowing bubbe to ask, I turned to the warm, loving arms of Google.
According to several different blogs -- though no real reference site like chabad.org, etc -- the reason that jelly candies are so popular with American Jews is that they stem from the preserves and candied fruit slices traditional in their ancestral lands of Russia or Eastern Europe. Heck, it makes sense to me.
I know that the kosher foods giant Manischewitz makes what is, at the very least, the most commonly available version...and wouldn't you know it, my local store didn't have them. Not figuring that I would eventually have to make a trip to Gelson's market (which is a fantastic Jewish-oriented store for many reasons, but unfortunately not close to me), I settled for what my local store did have...
...And that would be the box in front of us. Savion may not have its own website, but it is apparently a part of the Kedem food products empire. (Kedem is another huge name in the world of kosher foods -- sort of the Pepsi to Manischewitz's Coke)
There are four flavors of fruit slices:
*LemonBet you can't guess which is which.
Each slice is about two inches across at the widest point. The slices are sprinkled with coarse sugar. The colors are all bright and the jelly is clear. The outer crusts of the slices may feel dry and sandy from the sugar, but the inner jelly is moist and slightly sticky. The texture is the same on all, so we'll just talk about the flavors individually.
It can't help but be sweet from all the sugar, but it also has a great zesty zing. The flavor is one of the most natural lemon flavors I have ever had. It's sour, but it avoids that foul aftertaste that fake lemonades can have. It's almost as if they'd made candy from those little plastic bottles of lemon juice. You know, the ones that almost-but-not-quite taste like fresh squeezed?
Anyway, this was a great flavor and I would buy it on its own.
Lime always seems to be the hardest citrus flavor to pull off. If done right, it's reasonably close to the real thing. If done wrong, they taste the way lime-scented household cleaners smell.
All I am going to say on this one is that I suddenly feel like mopping.
If lime is the hardest citrus to pull off, then orange is the easiest.
Let's be fair -- even the worst orange isn't all that bad. This one is just sort of there. It's not bad, it's not good. It simply exists.
It's a little too sweet, yet also bitter in a non-natural way that somehow doesn't offset the sugar. There is some zest to it once you get all the sugar off. Again it's not bad, but there are far better version out there.
This was a tough one. The very first taste was good. It was a tangy cherry that reminded me of the best part of fruit punch...
...and then the unwelcome bitter aftertaste of the red dye wormed its way in. I personally couldn't get past the taste of the dye.
Bottom line: the lemon is actually pretty good, but the same can't be said of the other flavors. As stated above, I'd happily buy the lemon ones again if they were sold alone. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be an option.
140 calories per 3 pieces.
Kosher, parve, fat free.
None for Savion specifically, but their parent company is at kedem.com.