Why are my fruit friends perched sadly on grocery store shelves with frozen freeze-dried faces, yet I can spend hours scouring the aisles only to come up with slim pickins for regular dried strawberries and blueberries that haven’t been doused in sugar? Why is food freeze-dried in the first place?
Flash freezing is already ideal for preserving preciously seasonal fruit desired during times of drought. Why, voluntarily, would someone want to play vampire, sucking the pulp and blood out of Mother Nature’s most delicate, sweet treasures?
Ok, so perhaps to nourish some of the worlds most daring explorers would be one such free pass. Our fearless aeronauts who catapult themselves willingly into the outer rim of our earthly existence feast on such freeze-dried delicacies as tuna and corn chowder. I’m pretty sure their degree in astrophysics doesn’t require appropriate preparation in the art of lifeless food ingestion or we would probably see significantly less applicants in that field of science.
Due to a vast presence in grocery stores, I fully understand that freeze-dried fruits have made a comeback. After swearing them off as a child, so brutally disappointed in my souvenir freeze-dried ice cream from the Kennedy Space Center, I recently surrendered to purchasing a deliciously decorated bag of freeze-dried blueberries to cheer up my exhausted morning oatmeal doing double duty in this cold weather. Barely did I make it to my next errand that day when the munchies came a-knockin. I tore into my bag of blueberries and popped them into my mouth, crunching all the way to the mall. Better than my previous experience with these airy food impostors, I concluded that tossing these into my cozy oats and letting the warmth massage their crisp exteriors would surely create an acceptable morning treat.
After shopping for an hour, I finally found something that had enough aesthetic appeal to convince me to disrobe all my layers to try it on. I politely asked the sales associate to pull a larger size for me in the jeans I initially grabbed. After replying with a disgusted puss and rapid nod, she whisked away to retrieve them. Now, I know that skinny jeans aren’t for everyone, but there was no way that my tush crammed in those dark-stitched skinny jeans warranted the attention of multiple sales associates all displaying the same matching appalled faces. I smiled at them uncomfortably and ran to the changing room to remove them at once. Needless to say, I decided against the jeans. They weren’t on sale. Yeah, you heard me.
So, it wasn’t until I got back to my car and glanced in my rearview mirror that I noticed a peculiar dark tint of blue near the separation of my lips. I suddenly threw all of today’s events together in my head and gritted my teeth to brace for what I hoped was not there. I slowly stretched the sides of my mouth sideways in an embarrassed-by-your-mom-teenage-smile sort of way and to my horror found not my own endearing grin, but rather the Beetlejuice of freeze-dried food grin. Not only did the dark blueberry skins nestle into every gap between my teeth, but the proud blue pigments had also embedded on every taste bud and had clung to each available white patch of enamel as if they were selfishly trying to steal the spotlight during each curtain call when my lips pulled back to reveal my grinning teeth. Sigh.
Since then, there has been but one freeze-dried treat that has been given the exclusive pardon to grace these lips repeatedly and those are the adorable HAPPYMELTS.
Piled into a pouch for ease of transporting and packing, these little drops of freeze-dried strawberry yogurt must weigh at most a pound per million pieces. Light as air, their naturally sweet taste seems devilishly provoking as they try to convince you that perhaps they would also have at most one calorie per million pieces.
The dime-sized drops of sweet goodness appear as round and oval shaped mounds. They are eerily weightless and upon close examination their entire exterior displays tiny punctures as if the air that swept out of them left its tunnels of freedom behind. They look like they could be exotic ocean dwellers pulled from a delicious pink, porous strawberry coral, now faded slightly in brightness on its journey to your home.
Nothing about these organic darlings could prepare you for the magic that they reveal in your mouth. Even snapping one in half wouldn’t give you any hints. However, when introduced to a the new habitat inside your mouth, you can’t help but smile to feel the solid drop dissolving into a creamy, soft state.
As the creaminess begins to reveal itself in your mouth, you gradually absorb the dreamy, tangy strawberry yogurt flavor that we all know and love. The strawberry is pleasing to identify as confident, natural and bright. The taste is a slightly sweeter version of that probiotic-packed dairy dream, and although it may not strike your temperature receptors as resembling a frozen yogurt treat, it does somehow have your taste buds in limbo.
As everyone who reaches to try them from my cabinet notes, the package says “For Babies and Toddlers.” This editing error has even caused this product to be stocked in the baby aisles at grocery stores. I am sure that they meant…umm…non-babies and non-toddlers. Yeah. I will alert the company of this egregious error at once.
Until then, push the moms with strollers out of the way and scoot down that baby aisle to score a bag of one of these delicious, if not fascinatingly fun treats.
Perhaps we would have less crabby US astronauts if they were to be alerted that they could indulge in this yummy sweet strawberry treat so far from their home. That is if they were good little astrophysicists who finished all of their freeze-dried tuna first.