Fancy-Pants Prune Experience

Sunsweet D'Noir Prunes

Sunsweet D'Noir Prunes

I Paid: $2.79 for a 9-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

It probably says good things about the state of the nation that we're at a point where you can mass-market a fancy variety of prune. True, Americans should be eating more fruit and fiber overall, and it's a shame that aggressive marketing has to get involved to make it happen. Still, it's good to see that marketing is getting involved to make it happen.

D'Noir Prunes by Sunsweet come in simple, tasteful packaging; the message sent by the fonts and layout is "upscale, healthy, luxury." The name is kind of ridiculous, but it works: It's seemingly meant to imply a more indulgent, highfalutin prune experience than we're used to. The back of the package speaks of "nearly 100 years of effort" to produce the "freshest, most delicious, and natural tasting prunes," made from a "special prune-plum variety in lush California orchards," packed without preservatives "using a proprietary method."

Fair enough: The ingredients are just "pitted California prunes," period, while D'Noir's conventional peers have potassium sorbate as a preservative. As for the flavor, tasted side by side against regular Sunsweet pitted prunes, the D'Noirs stood out enough to be detected blind. While the two prunes look essentially identical, the D'Noir prune is noticeably more tender and yielding in texture, and mellower in flavor with a bit of a sweeter finish. In short: a better prune, for certain.

Surprisingly—and perhaps this is an introductory tactic to get people hooked—a 9-ounce bag of D'Noir prunes costs a mere 30 cents more than a 9-ounce bag of regular Sunsweet prunes. If 30 cents is the only thing separating you from a bag of conventional prunes and the D'Noir experience, even in these challenging economic times you must make the splurge.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.