8 Snack Pack Juicy Gels, Ranked

Gelatin has evolved significantly since its earliest days when Egyptian pharaohs utilized it as glue. Over the 20th century, gelatin desserts and snacks have become increasingly diverse and more broadly enjoyed, with over 150 million Americans consuming these treats annually, according to Statista.

We admit that we enjoy gelatin desserts. They are light, refreshing, and the perfect food for when you are recovering from any illness and need something easy to digest, according to USA Today. And they make for an ideal sweet treat to include in a lunch box for kids going to school.

Hunt's Snack Pack now offers a dizzying array of juicy gel flavors. We wanted to try some of these to see how our favorite classic flavors stood the test of time compared with more contemporary fun offerings. We ranked them from least to most favorite based on texture, flavor, and, to a lesser extent, the degree to which a flavor held up against our nostalgic memories of eating it as a kid.

8. Sugar-Free Orange

The sugar-free orange Snack Pack elicited a generational response relating to the existence of orange-flavored children's medicine. For those of us that grew up ingesting orange-flavored medicine, this Snack Pack created an instantaneous negative response. For those who did not, they might enjoy the orange flavor.

Strictly based on this product without factoring in the emotional responses, we have a few comments. First, the packaging is difficult to get into, and the plastic edges and foil topping are dangerously sharp. This is ironic since the first metal containers of Hunt's Snack Pack puddings introduced in 1968 had to be revamped to be more child safe after many children sustained injuries when opening the lid. We were more cautious in opening subsequent packages but were ill-prepared for it when opening the first one. This may be something parents want to consider when packing a school lunch.

We also noticed that the texture of the sugar-free juicy gels is quite liquid rather than jiggly. Perhaps this would be remedied by putting the package in the refrigerator before opening it. And while the orange flavoring initially evoked a strong reaction, it quickly dissipated into virtually nothing. The lack of sugar or sweetness makes these mild, which for someone needing something mellow after an illness, for example, would be a welcome quality.

7. Lemon-Lime

In yet another generationally driven response, the lemon-lime Snack Pack did not fare particularly well among those who grew up eating lime gelatin-based dishes. Some bizarre combinations used to be created with lime gelatin which was more or less palatable, and that probably has less to do with the lime flavor or green color than what was added to it. Those who did not grow up consuming these concoctions would likely have a different response to this flavor which would be more favorable.

The texture of this juicy gel was much firmer than any sugar-free varieties, which we did appreciate. Its flavor was reminiscent of Mountain Dew but had a distinct bitterness. To a trained palate, this bitterness might be redolent of the pith of a lemon or lime peel rather than the zest. What is perplexing about this, based on the ingredients, is that the primary fruit flavor in this juicy gel is apple juice from concentrate. If there is lemon or lime flavoring, it is one of the natural flavors listed way down the list as being less than 2% of the components of this product.

6. Sour Patch Kids Blue Raspberry

The Sour Patch Kids Blue Raspberry flavor Snack Pack was a mixed bag of reactions. It did achieve the quintessential pucker you get when you bite into a Sour Patch Kid. That said, it was also almost too sweet. And the flavor was somewhat more reminiscent of Swedish Fish candies than Sour Patch Kids. We prefer the latter to the former. The sweetness drowned out any hint of blue raspberry flavor that may have been present.

Where this variety shone for us was the texture, which was similar to that of canned cranberry sauce. Since that was a staple of Thanksgiving growing up, it screams comfort food. We will note that at 100 calories per 3.25-ounce cup serving, this variety contains 22 grams of sugar, a staggering 44% of the recommended daily value. That isn't a deal breaker if you do not consume much sugar outside of this, but it is substantial for a relatively small serving.

5. Starburst All Pink Strawberry

Fans of Starburst rejoice. If you love these candies, you will love this juicy gel variety. In terms of capturing the flavor of a pink Starburst, this product delivers in spades. We just never realized that pink Starburst was supposed to be strawberry flavor. Either way, this had the essence of Starburst without the tooth-damaging stickiness.

The aroma of this variety had a watermelon bubble gum quality, which may have been a bit confusing compared with the purported flavor, but pleasant. Though the texture of this variety was looser than a few others, it was not overly watery. Again, we think that might be remedied by storing this in the refrigerator before serving.

Yet again, we were surprised that apple juice was a primary ingredient in this juicy gel. You would never guess that based on the flavor. This flavor also had a substantial amount of sugar per 3.25-ounce serving at 20 grams, or 40% of the recommended daily value. That said, at 90 calories and a negligible amount of sodium, it is not an overly unhealthy sweet treat to include in a kid's lunchbox.

4. Sugar-Free Strawberry

The things we love about the sugar-free strawberry flavor juicy gel can be easily described. It is not overly sweet, has a good strawberry flavor, and doesn't taste synthetic. As with the other sugar-free varieties, this one had a looser texture than the non-sugar-free types, but it wasn't off-putting. This is our go-to juicy gel when we need something easy on the stomach and satiating to eat.

At 5 calories and 0 grams of sugar, this is also a good choice for anyone watching sugar consumption or caloric intake. We did note that this, along with most other Snack Pack varieties, utilizes food dyes, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, which have been implicated in health concerns, particularly the increase in hyperactivity among young children.

Though these food dyes are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to Healthline, parents concerned with these side effects may want to consider this before serving these to younger children even though the amounts listed on the ingredients label are negligible at less than 2% per serving.

3. Strawberry

The full-sugar strawberry has many of the same things going for it as the sugar-free one but is somewhat sweeter, has a firmer texture, and has a more vibrant red hue. It also has more of a quintessentially recognizable strawberry flavor. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this Snack Pack. Those not watching sugar intake closely and who are not concerned with calories may opt for this variety purely for its more potent flavor.

Anecdotally, we noted that all Snack Pack juicy gels are gluten-free, Kosher, have no trans fats, are preservative-free, and are made without high-fructose corn syrup. Though there has been some speculation as to the metabolic impacts of high-fructose corn syrup versus sugar on the human body, at this point, there has been no conclusive evidence to suggest that one is more impactful than the other, according to Popular Science. Most scientific research indicates that the issue is more a product of quantity rather than quality. Limiting sugar intake of all kinds may be beneficial, but ultimately moderation is the key.

2. Sugar-Free Cherry

We had a tough time deciding which of these last two to rank first and second, so they may be a wash. Cherry is a flavor we grew up on. We also love anything cherry flavored, so the sugar-free cherry variety not only has the benefit of giving us that comfort food element conferred by nostalgic food, it just happens to land perfectly on our taste buds.

Like the other sugar-free varieties, the texture may be somewhat thin, though perhaps less so than in previous samples. The flavor is not overly sweet but more distinguishable than the other sugar-free types. And while the aftertaste of this variety is somewhat more medicinal and aggressive, something is soothing about it.

Our biggest complaint was that we all wanted to finish the entire four-pack in one sitting, which at 5 calories per 3.25-ounce container, would not have been a problem. Try this flavor along with the Snack Pack vanilla pudding for a sweet treat that could easily be turned into a trifle with sponge cake or Nilla wafers.

1. Sour Patch Kids Redberry

Since we already mentioned that we love Sour Patch Kids candies, it may not be shocking that this variety landed in our top spot. Unlike the blue raspberry iteration, the redberry delivered a taste that effectively mimicked the candy. It had the perfect balance of sweet to sour, making our lips pucker but mellowing into a sweet aftertaste. Although we aren't sure what a redberry is, this tasted like raspberry without the tartness.

The texture of this Snack Pack juicy gel was also slightly firmer, making it coat your tongue well, which helps to distribute the flavor more evenly. And like the blue raspberry variety, the overall mouthfeel of this reminded us of canned cranberry sauce, which was delightful. Even at 100 calories and 22 grams of sugar, this is a sweet treat our inner children crave. We will pick up some more and put them aside for a rainy day when we need a quick pick-me-up.