Taste test: Best and worst juice boxes for your kid’s lunchbox

V8 Fusion Apple (V8 Fusion Apple / Photo courtesy of V8)

What are the best-tasting juice boxes? The Daily Meal’s editors put them to the test.









The juice box has been a lunchbox staple for a long time, providing kids with the hydration and nutrition necessary to get through the school day — or so parents thought. Recent studies on the dangers of drinking too many high-sugar, high-calorie beverages have helped to steer parents away from the mighty boxes.

There are more types than ever on the market today, promising everything from great to great nutrition, all wrapped up in a sensible serving size. Yet sensationalist claims scream at you from the box, making it difficult to figure out which ones offer real nutrition and which don’t. Then, of course, there is the matter of taste. Just because a drink with carrots and berries is appealing to Mom or Dad, doesn’t mean a kid is going to like it.

When choosing a juice box, it’s helpful to remember a few juice guidelines, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Infants less than a year old should not be drinking any , kids ages 1 to 6 years old shouldn’t exceed 6 ounces of fruit juice per day, and older children from ages 7 to 18 shouldn’t consume more than 8 or 12 ounces per day, ideally divided into two servings. Along with causing weight gain, excessive juice consumption can lead to cavities, malnutrition, and diarrhea. If you have more concerns about your child and fruit juice, it’s best to talk to a pediatrician who knows you child and their specific case. 

In order to figure out the tastiest, the sweetest, and the weirdest options out there, The Daily Meal editors taste-tested 10 different brands. For this test, we looked at fruit punch varieties from major brands available across the U.S., none of which contained high-fructose corn syrup. Some drinks had sneaky portions of vegetables added in and some were diluted with water, and although the juices are high in sugar, most of the sugars are naturally occurring and provide a way to increase fruit (and possibly vegetable) intake with little effort. 

SCORES:

Whole Foods Fruit Punch 80%
Back to Nature Fruit Punch 75.1%
Apple & Eve Very Berry 71.1%
Earth Wise Orchards Red 70%
Trader Joe's Fruit Punch 69.2%
Capri Sun Super V Apple 67.2%
V8 Fusion Fruit Punch 64.5%
Honest Kids Fruit Punch 63.9%
V8 Fusion Apple 58.2%
RW Knudson Sensible Sippers 56.9%

After the taste test there were clear passing grades, and some failing grades. (After all, our taste buds have matured a bit since the days of juice boxes at lunch.) The others got lost in the middle of the pack. The editors ranked them on a scale from 60 to 100 percent (just like you’re back in school!).


V8 Fusion Apple - Score: 58.2% (Pictured above left)

While this one also ranked pretty low, it wasn’t quite as reviled as RW Knudsen Sensible Sippers Fruit Punch. The highest mark it received was a 75 percent.

The main issue was its cloudy, artificial appearance. While the neon orange color might not be an issue in a box, no one could properly guess the taste, with ideas ranging from pear to banana. Even if you’re eager to sneak some vegetable servings into your juice consumption, there are tastier vegetable juices to choose from.

As one tester summed up, the juice "smells awful, looks awful, very artificial." Guess this won’t be making the tyke’s lunchbox.

1 Juice box (6.75 ounces): 60 calories, 12 grams of sugar


(See more: The Best and Worst Frozen Waffles)


Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch(Photo: Courtesy of Honest Teas)Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch - Score: 63.9%

Honest Kids ranked quite a bit higher than V8 Apple and Sensible Sippers, but its watered-down taste was its downfall.

The editors didn’t appreciate the diluted flavor, calling it "creepy diluted," and complained about a strange sweetness that "tastes vaguely like bubblegum." Some taste-testers also commented on a tropical flavor with hints of coconut and pineapple.

In addition to the low calorie count, this juice box contains the lowest amount of sugar, along with a variety of fruit juices.

1 pouch (6.75 ounces): 40 calories, 10 grams of sugar



V8 Fusion Fruit Punch (Photo: Courtesy of V8) V8 Fusion Fruit Punch - Score: 64.5%

Scoring quite a bit higher than V8 Fusion apple juice, V8 fruit punch got an average of a 64.5 percent score.

With a taste that wasn’t as sweet as the other V8 — several tasters noted a salty flavor — it’s a better choice if you’re looking for a fruit-vegetable juice hybrid. There was a moment of redemption for V8 Fusion fruit punch with the note "tastes like a lollipop." Still, editors commented on its cough medicine, "Robitussin flavor," which caused V8 fruit punch to lose major points.

1 Juice Box (6.75 ounces): 70 calories, 17 grams of sugar

 

Capri Sun Super V Apple(Photo: Courtesy of Capri Sun) Capri Sun Super V Apple- Score: 67.2%

Landing in the middle of the pack, Capri Sun (the drink of many editors’ childhoods) earned points for its notably fruity flavor.

Some editors thought it tasted almost grape-like, while others noticed a hint of cherry. People found this one pretty inoffensive and "middle of the road"; it’s a safe bet your child won’t mind finding this in their lunchbox.

A word of warning: the straw is tricky.

1 box (6 ounces): 70 calories, 14 grams of sugar



Apple & Eve Very Berry(Photo: Courtesy of Apple & Eve) Apple & Eve Very Berry- Score: 71.1%

Apple & Eve’s Very Berry juice box broke the top three with a score of 71 percent.

Editors found it to have an inoffensive flavor that was sweet, without being overkill. With comments like "decent," "meh," and "middle of the road," this juice box won’t be winning any flavor contests, but it also won’t make you sick. It’s a safe bet that your kid won’t complain if this is in their lunch box.

1 box (6.75 ounces): 100 calories, 21 grams of sugar



Back to Nature Fruit Punch(Photo: Jane Bruce) Back to Nature Fruit Punch- Score: 75.1%

This was one of the high-scorers, and our editors enjoyed a flavor that was more potent than the ones they had previously tasted.

Despite the more powerful flavor, our editors still complained that this juice was too sweet, describing it as "sugar water," and "pretty sweet but tasty."

Two people gave this juice box a score of 90 but some low scores in the 60s brought its average down. While it had a more powerful taste, many editors also noted that it was still a bit too sugary. (And with a whopping 19 grams of sugar, we can imagine why.)

1 pouch (6 ounces): 80 calories, 19 grams of sugar



See More of the Best and Worst Juice Boxes




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