It’s the battle of dried fruits: raisins vs. Craisins, and the struggle for dominance over which little dried fruit ends up in your cereal, mixed fruit packet, salad or oatmeal cookies.
"Craisins don't make us crazy, but they are just a little bit irritating because they are counterfeit raisins," said Sun-Maid raisin president Barry Kriebel. That's because, says Kriebel, Craisins are actually dried cranberries with sugar added to make them sweet. Raisins are just dried grapes, with no added sweeteners.
Craisins are a dried cranberry brand created by Ocean Spray, known for growing cranberries. The Massachusetts-based company has for years tried to get more consumers to swap out raisins and use Craisins.
The raisin and Craisin controversy is nothing new for farmers in Central California who supply 100 percent of the country’s raisins.
“The California raisin industry wants to make sure they remain the number one item in the dried fruit category whether if it’s bread cereals, retail -- and this kind of up-start: sugar infused cranberries don’t get mistaken for a 100 percent fruit,” said Kriebel.
Raisin representatives have had to fight off craisin advocates pushing their product where the dried grape has long held held dominance. They started a “Let’s Keep It Real Campaign” to remind people that raisins are all natural Craisins and are loaded with sugar.
“I think a lot of people think that Craisins are fruit that they are eating a hundred percent fruit and really they are eating dried cranberries with 40 percent sugar,” said Kriebel.
But Ocean Spray says Craisins not only taste better than raisins, they have significant health benefits.
“Everybody knows cranberries have unique health benefits,” said Ken Romanzi, chief operating officer at Ocean Spray. “Craisins are another way consumers can enjoy the tasty goodness of the cranberry and add variety to their diets. For unmatched taste, color and versatility, no other dried fruit comes close to Craisins – not even raisins,” said Romanzi in a press release from February.
And this is where the battle gets heated.
Sun-Maid says that a 12-ounce bag Craisins has about 35 cubes of added sugar. But Ocean Spray says that Craisins have twice the amount of antioxidants as most raisin brands.
Last month, Ocean Spray started a campaign of its own to “Make the Swap” where they asked the public for a taste-test to see if customers prefer Craisins over raisins.
To help let the public decide, both companies have plenty of recipes online where customers can use their dried fruits as substitutes for the other.
For example, Ocean Spray has Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookie compared to Sun-Maid’s Classic Raisin Oatmeal Cookies. And Sun-Maid, the number one fruit bread in the country, has its raisin bread recipe, while Ocean Spray has its own Classic Cranberry Nut Bread.
“From our stand point every recipe should have a raisins in it instead of some other artificial dried cranberry,” said Kriebel.
Raisins versus Craisins: health may be one thing, but in the end it might be taste that decides the battle.