Monday, May 7, 2012

Confusion at the Market & Questions for Mott's Applesauce

The importance of reading ingredient lists was highlighted this weekend when a good friend (and loyal Delicious Truth reader!) was buying applesauce.

He became completely flummoxed—"It was like a science experiment"—when trying to figure out the difference between Mott's Original Applesauce and Mott's Natural Applesauce. The packaging was pretty much the same, but the natural was slightly more expensive (about $0.20 for the 6-count individual packs). Upon further inspection, my friend realized Original contained high fructose corn syrup (which was the second ingredient after apples), while Natural had no added sugar.

"I don't understand why they even make the original," he said.

Consumer Relations wasn't open over the weekend, but when I call later today, I'll ask a handful of questions:
  • "Why does Mott's add sweetener to applesauce, a product that, by its very nature, is sweet?"
  • "Why does Mott's use high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has come under much attack, and not cane sugar?"
  • "Why do you call Mott's Original Applesauce "original" considering that when Mott's started making applesauce in 1930, high fructose corn syrup was still more than 25 years away from being introduced and 50 years away from being widely used as a sweetener?"
  • "Why does Mott's add artificial colors to its flavored apple sauces (mango peach, mixed berry, etc.) when they already contain fruit purees that are presumably full of color?"
  • "Bearing in mind that other companies are dropping artificial colors from their products (i.e. Pepperidge Farm Colored Goldfish, Yoplait Trix Yogurt), is Mott's considering replacing the artificial colors?"
  • "I couldn't find ingredient lists for your products anywhere on the Mott's website. Are they there somewhere? If not, why? As a consumer, I want to know what is in my food."
My friend will be calling with his own set of questions and comments today. As I've mentioned before, this is how change occurs. The Mott's Consumer Relations phone number is 800-426-4891 for those interested.

I'll report back tomorrow with the answers I receive. Also, later this week, how to make homemade applesauce.


Anonymous said...

Oh, looking forward to your how-to. My mom made the BEST applesauce with the windfall apples in our yard. Probably macintosh, but not 100% sure on that. She just chunked 'em up, added a little water, cooked slowly for a long time, tasted to see if sugar was even needed, then ran 'em through a food mill to distribute the pinkish apple skin throughout. I don't think she canned them, I think she probably froze it in her chest freezer.

Anonymous said...

Chef, I have a question. That was my comment above about the windfall applesauce. I have never really loved raw apples but eat them anyway for the vitamins and other nutrients. I did love my mom's applesauce, though. Here's what I wonder: When cooking apples for sauce, normal practice is to cook for a long time. Are significant nutrients lost during the long heat process? Maybe the same could be asked about blueberries -- which I do cook into sauce. Most other fruits I never cook.
We are advised to cook vegetables just to "crisp-tender" to preserve the nutrients and I wonder how that works with fruit -- I have doubts as you can see.

Chef Rob said...

First, your mom's way is pretty much how I make it, except I add cinnamon and don't bother to food mill the skins.

Regarding nutrient loss, some nutrients are more heat-sensitive than others. The way the fruit or vegetable is cooked (i.e. steaming vs. boiling) makes a huge difference. Also, length of cooking plays a role. If the cooking liquid is consumed or used in the final dish (like your mom's applesauce, I think) the loss of nutrients is mitigated.

For more info, check out

Also, you may find this interesting. It's a little dated (mid-20th century!), but it has some good information:

Hope that helps.

Mario Martinez said...

I loved Motts when I was a child. As a father I only get unsweetened, cinnamon, or berry blended applesauce. I would love a recipe for my family. I sat down today at work and got a small container of Motts from the cafe. I started eating it and was surprised at jow sickly sweet it was. That's when I looked and saw HFCS on there as the second ingredient. I was confused and angry. I imagined how many kids eat this for lunch everyday and how it only contributes to the obesity that is sweeping our schools. Our so called healthy snacks are a trick.