Day 116

PlumSweets

July 20th, 2010



They're pieces of prune coated with dark chocolate, and they're pretty tasty. But I have two issues with the package:

1) Prunes seem to be called "dried plums" now (across the board; not just on this package), I guess to avoid the association with geriatric bowel movements that prunes have acquired over the years. The idea of rebranding something that grows on a tree seems silly to me, although I'm sure it's been profitable for Sunsweet.

2) The bar graph indicates that PlumSweets, consisting mostly of dark chocolate and prunes, have a higher antioxidant content per gram than either dark chocolate or prunes! I know a responsible corporation like Sunsweet would never lie to the public about something as important as nutrition, so there's only one logical resolution here. There must be some other ingredient(s) in PlumSweets with such an extraordinarily high antioxidant content that it raises the average to the level indicated on the chart. So, without further ado, I present to you the four other ingredients in PlumSweets, the four candidates for the title of Mega-Antioxidant Superfood: sugar, corn syrup, tapioca dextrin, and confectioner's glaze!


44 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Matt, regardless of nutrients, be sure that you are either within reasonable distance of a bathroom, or a secluded bush!

  2. Jeff says:

    i’m ok on the chocalate. But I prefer mine with Strawberries. Prunes…no way jose.

  3. Jeff says:

    Wow .. sugar and Corn Syrup…all we are missing are Nutrasweet and sacharine. We got a mega suger/non sugar rush…….to the b a t h r o o m …..

    • Michael in Atlanta says:

      I once ate some prunes with the mental picture in my head of NOT going to the bathroom a lot afterwards; I ate them for their nutritional value. That was just a fantasy; nobody told the dried plums… They are very effective little things.

  4. Sherry in Houston says:

    Jeff: Today marks 30 days since Matt has taken a day off. Can’t you and Mom and Dad talk him into a rest before the mountains?

    • young says:

      I second that Sherry. Seems to me too that Matt is overdue for some R&R away from the roads.

    • Jeff says:

      All right Sherry I will find out what the scoop is….if I can. I bet he has a break coming up…his Mom or Dad would know for sure….but I bet a gazillion bucks there not telling.

      • Craig (Yeah..in NC!) says:

        Jeff…
        I think from becoming a dried plum to being a dark chocolate covered prune something is lost…
        13,120 + 8,578 = 21698
        something lost in translation i guess.

  5. John in MI says:

    OK, so I called Sunsweet, and after several minutes of checking, the consumer rep came back with a somewhat vague answer. She said it has to do with a weighted average of the dried plums and the chocolate, and the levels of antioxidants varies in the dark chocolate. Then went on to say the testing was done by an outside lab, and the results are what is printed on the package. Still seems mathematically awry in my opinion, unless dark chocolate AO levels really have a wide swing (more research needed on that.) Thanks for the puzzle though Matt.

    • young says:

      John in MI – is “mathematically awry” your polite way of saying Sunsweet’s claim is totally bogus? Taking astonishing liberty with nutritional claims and contents has been an unsavory habit of the food and snack industry for a while. Take a gander of this consumer’s report of Nestle fruit snacks:

      “First it was Dark Chocolate Raisinets and then they really blew our minds with Cranberry Raisinets (which have no raisins! and they’re dark chocolate!). This year they’ve introduced Cherry Raisinets which are “dark chocolate” covered dried cherries. So they’ve ignored two of the three defining features of Raisinets – no raisins, no milk chocolate (but they’re still individually panned candies).”

      Matt’s concern is quite valid since “sugar, corn syrup, tapioca dextrin, and confectioner’s glaze” are also used in various Nestle fruit snacks which make no mention of measurable antioxidants. Apparently, these companies are aware of a synergistic food secret that we are as consumers not privy to.

      • Laurenis says:

        I’m wondering if they came to the conclusive antioxidant number by factoring in the the antioxidant properties of the prun….err….dried plum, and then the added antioxidants of small amount of dark cholocate equaling that oh-so-even 16,000. Still, I’m not sold. And corn syrup as an added ingredient? Fleh!

  6. Peacenik in Oregon says:

    Prunes are any variety of plum grown specifically for drying. Who’d a thunk it…
    So you could actually have dried plums AND dried prunes without being redundant (but don’t plan on getting much sleep that night).
    cheers…

  7. Stephen says:

    My oxygen radical absorbance capacity is a little low today. Is that why I feel like a totally free radical?

  8. Brittney says:

    Maybe the higher antioxidants is cause they’re thinking you’ll get about 0.5 a gram of each per gram, and they add together up to a higher score? It makes some vague kinda sense, and then it really doesn’t cause technically the most you could have is the amount in the dark chocolate….
    Anyways, way to confuse !
    I still wouldn’t eat them

  9. Job Cacka says:

    All prunes are plums, but not all plums are prunes.

    http://www.als-gardencenter.com/index.php?cID=611

  10. Dan says:

    Never posted here before, but I’ve been following lately and found this little riddle rather interesting. I did a little research on Brunswick Labs who performed the study for the USDA and the number presented on the back of the pictured package do not match what is found on the ORAC chart which is directly linked on the Brunswick website – http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/ORAC/ORAC_R2.pdf -. The chart shows Dried Plums with a mean ORAC score of 8,059 (min – 5,931, max – 10,563) found on page 24; and dark chocolate (candies) with a mean of 20,816 (min – 15,170, max 24,600) found on page 39.

    This can sort of give some insight on how they come up with their misleading packaging, depending what information they are using. If the numbers they are using to represent dried plums and dark chocolate separately are being obtained from samples with ORAC scores below the mean (or an outlier which appears they are using for the dark chocolate showing a 13,000 score); but then use ORAC scores above the mean in the calculation of their product, they can skew the results to make something which is clearly not an accurate representation as you see on the product packaging.

    For example – They use 8,596 for Dried Plums, which falls below the max listed of 10,563, so this is plausible. They also use 13,120 for dark chocolate which is below the minimum listed of 15,170; I suppose this could be plausible if they provided Brunswick with some reduced anti-oxidant sample for their testing.

    Now lets estimate that the PlumSweets are 40% Dried Plums and 60% Dark Chocolate (dark chocolate is listed as the main ingredient), then they could have done their testing with a Plum that has a 10,000 ORAC rating (below the maximum listed) and chocolate with a 20,000 rating (well below the max listed). This would be 10,000 x 40% = 4,000 plus 20,000 x 60% = 12,000. 4,000 + 12,000 = 16,000.

    Simple right? Hope you all enjoyed your math lessor for the day as well as the evils of data and research manipulation which is used almost endlessly in today’s society. My research on Brunswick Labs also showed that they have taken some heat over their ratings due to the fact that they don’t really monitor who is sending them samples for testing and for what purpose the results will be used. They are as much to blame for the misleading information as the companies are who use it.

    Enjoy,
    Dan

    • Jim in AR via MN says:

      The meaning of ALL this???…if you are going to eat them…EAT THEM…if they are REAL DRIED PLUMS (PRUNES)…and they are covered with REAL chocolate…and you would like that sort of thing…EAT THEM…if we really worried about all the reports, nutritional claims (both for and against) we would never eat anything…

      Now for chocolate covered prunes (dried plums)…hurl…prunes, okay…chocolate, okay…together…hurl…but if you like that sort of thing…eat them…worry less…enjoy your B.M….

    • Laurenis says:

      This blog and the awesome people who follow it never cease to amaze me. We should start our own country or something, with all of this intelligence and wit, love, and humor! Ok, maybe not our own country, but a Green Country where we walk everywhere and recycle alot!

    • young says:

      Sweet exposition Dan! As the great Mark Twain once paraphrased, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

    • Don in Tennessee says:

      Dan

      I actullay like prunes-

      OK- I will go ahead and say it before one of the HOBO NATION says it-you already knew I was full of it!

      Are you a chemist or something similar.

      You are PLUM over my head. All this prune info. is starting to RUN togehter. OH! NO! – CRAP I gotta GO -? or is it RUN?

      Thanks

      Don

      P.S. (Prune S***) I feel I am informed enough now on the Dried Plums or is it Prunes-CRAP , who cares!

      Just eat them and be happy!!!

    • Shannon in AR says:

      In the South, when an individual (or company) intentionally deceives, or is excessively boastful, they are referred to as “full of crap”.

      So Dan, are you telling me that Sunsweet Growers, Inc., a company that peddles chocolate covered PRUNES, is full of crap?

      Seriously? The irony.

  11. Chris says:

    Where else on the internet can you actually have a blog with this much data ond prunes/plums??? Thanks to Matt for providing a solid plum/prune blogspot!

  12. Ed In MN says:

    Notice the bag is empty!
    Did he eat them?
    If so, how far was it to the outhouse?

  13. Lynn says:

    add up the antioxidants for chocolate and prunes, it’s actually more than the plumsweets…next time do them seperately. :)

  14. Saun in Ohio says:

    Amen Jim in AR via MN . I hope he didn’t eat the whole bag. Matt probably found the bag along the road maybe…

  15. Angela says:

    wait a minute…that whole package says it is plums…even in the ingredients, so how are you comming up with the whole prune thing? Either way, make sure you are near a nice clean rest room!

  16. Kevin from NC says:

    As Jed Clampett would say, “Jethro, I’m plum astonished at what they do to dried vittles these days.”

  17. charlie says:

    let’s not all be so prunefaced about this whole thing…..

  18. Craig (Yeah..in NC!) says:

    dang.. makes walking faster to the home/house that will take him in…
    “Good evening my name is Matt Green I am walking from coast to coast across America and I;d like to ask if I may place a tent of your land this evening and then in the morning I’ll be on my way…
    But in the mean time… I had some fantastic dark chocolate covered prunes.. ohh you know, dried plums and may I have access your washroom aka your bathroom, other wise know as the thrown, the can, the john, the potty, errr man I gotta go!! Where’s your Montana outhouse?

  19. Don in Tennessee says:

    KEVIN FROM NC

    Here’s to you!

    http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=7387

    Elly May sends her love!

  20. Candice in Alabama says:

    Prunes – ehh….not yet – not even chocolate covered ones – But my Mom loves them.

  21. Sharon P says:

    Can’t believe this product has produced such a high number of comments! That says something…not sure what though.

  22. Karen Too says:

    Well, Matt. You really shook up the Hobo Nation with this one. Hilarious, and educational.

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