Sunday, September 2, 2012

Apple Sauce

Wow it's been a long time since we've posted - sorry about that! As you've probably gathered by now based on the things we post about (CheeriosPeanut Butter, Chocolate Syrup), we have little ones, so with all the end of summer/beginning a new school year activities that go along with that, our kids are the excuse we're using for being so delinquent in posting (and BTW, I'm sure we'll use the kids as our excuse again in the future, so don't be surprised!). Well here's another one for all you moms out there - apple sauce! (We're spelling that as two words, because that's what's on the labels of the products we reviewed, but we were sure it was one word, and it seems to be used as one word all the time - which do you prefer?) We chose to review Mott's, Musselman's and Great Value all natural no sugar added/unsweetened apple sauce, because that's the type we buy for our kids (it makes us feel better about feeding them the occasional cherry frosted Pop-Tart - post on those to come!) Also the Musselman's is in a picture by itself because it was a late entry. We realized after starting our analysis that most stores carry these three primary brands, so we thought we better include it!

Price: GV and Musselman's apple sauce cups were a full 4 oz. vs. Mott's which were 3.9 oz. per cup (24 oz. vs. 23.4 oz. total). So Musselman's ended up being 9 cents per ounce, or 28% more than the Great Value apple sauce, which was 7 cents per ounce. The Mott's apple sauce was in between at about 8.5 cents per ounce, or 20% more than the Great Value apple sauce. Doing these calculations made us realize why we didn't include Musselman's in the first place - it's becuase we had never bought it before because it costs so much more!

Ingredients: There are two primary ingredients in all natural apple sauce - which probably isn't surprising for something so simple - apples and water. The GV and Mott's apple sauce also contained ascorbic acid.

Calories/Nutritional Information: Each type of apple sauce had 50 calories per cup. The Great Value and Musselman's apple sauces had 12 grams of carbohydrates per cup and 8 grams of sugars, while Mott's had 13 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of sugar; Great Value and Musselman's each listed 2 grams of fiber, while Mott's had 1 gram; and Great Value and Mott's each listed 85 mg of potassium (the Musselman's did not list any potassium). 

Two strange things caught our attention - the Great Value apple sauce indicates that is has 100% of the RDV (recommended daily value) of vitamin C, but Mott's listed vitamin C at 20% and the Musselman's had 0%. This doesn't really make sense to us given that apples are apples and should contain the same vitamins. So we did a little research and found out that ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C. So it makes sense that the Great Value apple sauce has 100%, since it contains ascorbic acid, and the Mott's has only 20%, since it does not contain ascorbic acid. But the Musselman's apple sauce lists ascorbic acid as an ingredient and does not indicate that it has vitamin C. Which makes it seem like these companies are following different rules when listing nutritional information...

The second strange (alarming) thing we found in the nutritional information was that the GV and Musselman's apple sauce cups contained 10 mg of sodium per cup. This threw us for a loop (why would apple sauce contain sodium?) Salt is not listed in the ingredient list of either the Musselman's or GV apple sauce, so we did some research and found that an apple contains at most 1-2 grams of sodium, and that ascorbic acid does not contain sodium. Then we found that there can be as many as 10 grams of sodium per cup of unsweetened apple juice (see this), which makes us wonder if the reason GV and Musselman's apple sauces contain sodium is because they're putting apple juice in it... apple juice has the same ingredients as apple sauce, so the apple sauce could contain apple juice and the ingredient list would still be accurate, right? Wouldn't that also explain why the GV and Musselman's apple sauces tasted sweeter (since apple juice is basically concentrated apple flavor)? Let us know your theories on this!

Appearance: the Great Value and Musselman's apple sauces were a little darker in color than the Mott's (due to the ascorbic acid we are guessing, given that the Musselman's ingredient list indicates that the ascorbic acid is "added to maintain color") which you can sort of tell in these pictures (these are not great for comparison becuase they were taken at different times of day, so the lighting is different, but at least they give you an idea):

GV on the left, Mott's on the right

GV on the left, Musselman's on the right
Do you think the color of the Great Value and Musselman's apple sauces is more appealing? Does the Mott's apple sauce look more bland/anemic? We think the effect of color on our perception of tastiness and healthiness is very interesting so let us know your opinion!

Texture/the chew test: these had the same consistency/texture - none of them seemed chunkier or smoother or more watery than another.

Taste: the Mott's apple sauce was a little more tart/sour, while the GV and Musselman's apple sauces were sweeter. Musselman's seemed the sweetest but it was a very insignificant difference compared to the Great Value brand.

Bottom line: While the Great Value applesauce has the best price, we don't feel great serving our kids applesauce containing sodium. On the other hand, the sodium-free Mott's applesauce had more grams of sugar per cup, which we don't feel great about either. So you'll have to make a judgment call there - or let us know if you find one that is both low-sugar and sodium free!


  1. Eat WhiteHouse brand apple sauce....its the best!

  2. Interesting webpost however, the "Bottom Line" summary of your finding fails to draw a conclusion and betrays your bias against GV and towards Mott's. Since sodium occurs naturally in apples shouldn't sugar have been the decisive factor in your decision process? Arguably added sugar is more harmful to children than the trace amounts of sodium. Ascorbic acid is clearly used to preserve color and appearance in the GV sauce and is, in fact, naturally occurring Vitamin C, which helps the body ward off pathogens, though that didn't seem to weigh-in to your decision criteria.
    We've consumed each of the brands tested and prefer GV Unsweetened Apple Sauce. It flys off the shelf at our local WalMart and our nieces just love it. I appreciate your website. Very informative. Thank you.