The Fruit Company's Chocolate Appeal Gift Box Eclectica

Filed Under: Food, Gifts (<- this functionality is pending, but it'll be cool when it's there!)

United States of Americaby Jase Luttrell
Posted: 6 October 2006

Gift baskets are not only for Hollywood celebrities: anyone can order one from The Fruit Company in Oregon, in the US, except, perhaps, if you are in South Africa, but that's more an issue regarding the postal services, which we won't go into right now....

The Fruit Company's Chocolate Appeal Gift Box After a long and emotionally draining trip to Warrensburg, Missouri for a friend's memorial service, I came back to the drudgeries of work the following Monday. The next day, a package was sitting on my desk waiting for me. It was a gift from my friends, a "we're thinking of you" present, which was, of course, very touching. The gift box was from The Fruit Company, a 50+-year-old company operating out of the Hood River region of Oregon that specialises in fruit and candy gifts, which are shipped across the United States and abroad.

The company was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, and claims to have the best tasting pears available. The Hood River area is widely known for its volcanic soil, which is rich with the nutrients necessary to grow a wide variety of fruits. In addition, the mild climate and plentiful rainfall helps the orchards of the Fruit Company diversify their products, so it is able to offer the best pears in the world, but also a variety of apples, cherries, blueberries, grapes, and even navel oranges and tangerines, which normally only grow in more tropical climes.

The gift boxes, towers, and baskets comprise more than fruit; they also offer a tantalising array of chocolates, cookies, wines, and cheeses. In addition, the company provides fruit cheesecakes for a relatively modest price, and with a wide variety of flavours. The specific gift my friends purchased for me was the Chocolate Appeal Gift Box. Normally, this box includes a navel orange, a royal comice pear, a red gala apple, chocolate-covered bing cherries, chocolate-covered blueberries, milk-chocolate almonds, and chocolate mint truffles. However, the web site notes that, because of the availability of some items, and the oppressive heat of summer, some items may be replaced with other less-sensitive delicacies.

The gift box I received could hardly be called a Chocolate Appeal Gift Box, because there was hardly any chocolate at all. This is perfectly fine with me, since chocolate is not my absolute favourite. Instead, I received a navel orange, a Red Delicious apple (not a red gala), and a French d'Anjou pear (not a royal comice) as my fruit selection. Instead of chocolate, I received white-chocolate pecan-shortbread cookies, marionberry tea cookies, pineapple hard candies, and dark chocolate Holland mints, which are not as susceptible to melting since they are candy coated.

Overall, the presentation was very appealing. The box was large enough to fit all of the items, which rested in paper fibers that looked like some type of hay product, presumably to give the gift basket the "orchard harvest" appearance. The whole product was not terribly heavy, and therefore may not have cost too much for shipping, except that the fruit had to be shipped immediately to avoid spoilage. Overall, though, the price is exorbitantly high, by at least ten dollars.

The navel orange was extremely juicy, but was slightly watery. For the region it was grown in, and the time of year (oranges are typically ripe in December in America, and usually grown in Florida) this is acceptable, but not for the price. The pear was nice in size and the skin was unblemished. The mid sections of the pear were sweet, juicy, and perfect. Unfortunately, as I bit closer to the core, the texture was almost wooden. In contrast, the area around the stem and the base were soft and grainy, much like a spoiled apple. I've never had a pear that had such a contrast in texture, which was an interesting experience, but not one I'd like to repeat again. In contrast, the Red Delicious apple was exactly as its namesake - I have not had an apple that delicious in a long time. It was strong and sweet in flavour, the skin was firm and crisp, and the texture was absolutely perfect. Because of its excellent taste, I ate the apple down to the seeds and the core, something I rarely do because of my common experience with sub-par apples of all varieties.

Now for the candies and cookies: the pineapple hard candies were delicious, but there were too few of them. In reality, there were about eight, but because of the great taste I could have lived with at least eight more. The white-chocolate pecan-shortbread cookies were very buttery and tasty, but the white chocolate pieces were so small I actually had to make an effort to taste the white chocolate (which is my favourite flavour of all time). The dark-chocolate Holland mints were very good, and I relished each one for nearly two full weeks - there were many of them. Finally, the marionberry tea cookies: these cookies tasted as if they were created by a higher power. They are shortbread cookies liberally covered in a marionberry-powdered-sugar mixture. My only complaint is that the gift box did not include some sort of tea to accompany these great cookies. I recall sharing one of these cookies with one of my friends who purchased the gift box. She agreed that the taste was great. Still, it was very hard for me to part with even that one cookie. I cannot express how good these cookies were.

The gift boxes, towers, and baskets available through The Fruit Company are a good choice for a gift, but buyer beware: make sure you know exactly what you will be getting in the gift, since the items may vary. Also, be wary of the price, and especially the shipping and handling, and, make sure you know when the gift will be delivered, since the fruit could spoil at any moment. If possible, talk with the company about personalising a gift and, if it is possible, make sure to order plenty of the marionberry tea cookies. Finally, because of the shipping, international orders may not be available to certain countries, or you will have to pay ridiculously high costs to have the item delivered. If you are thinking about an international order, contact the company and inquire about skipping out on the fruit altogether, and send a gift full of cookies, candies, and chocolates instead. Comments

Key Facts
Manufacturer: The Fruit Company, Hood River, Oregon, USA
Phone: 1-800-387-3100
Product Web Site: Chocolate Appeal Gift Box
Price: US$34.95 [?]
Price Range (across all products): US$9.95 [?] to $169.95 [?]
Weight: 1.3 kg/2 pounds, 13 ounces
Description: Gift basket featuring fruit and chocolate products
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