For a few years, I’ve been hearing about the wonders of cotton candy grapes. People who are lucky enough to find them in their local grocery stores declare that they really do taste like cotton candy, but these are like a rare unicorn among grapes. I had never spotted these grapes in my local Aldi stores, or any other grocery stores in my area, until a few weeks ago.
I bought a bag, and after getting it home and rinsing the grapes, my family eagerly tried them to see if they would live up to the hype.
In short, they truly do taste like the popular carnival food. My kids and I loved them, and when looking for a snack, I was more likely to eat these grapes compared to when I’ve kept other types of grapes in the fridge.
So, what are cotton candy grapes and how are they produced?
It turns out that most grapes have been bred and developed to last during shipping and storage, and they were not necessarily bred for their taste. With the proliferation of new and delicious varieties of apples such as honeycrisps and pink ladies, grape growers are trying to offer a similar larger range of choices. And the good news is that cotton candy grapes were created with selective breeding, using no genetic engineering or artificial flavors.
Cotton candy grapes have about 18 grams of sugar per 100 grams of grapes, according to NPR, which is about 12% more sugar than traditional grapes but much less than raisins. Cotton candy grapes also have little in the way of tartness; it’s all about the sweetness, and there are even hints of vanilla, a result of mixing in genes from less common types of grapes.
Cotton candy grapes at Aldi cost $1.51 per pound at the time of publication, and I purchased a 3.49-lb. bag for $5.27. According to Taste of Home, they normally sell for between $2 and $4 per pound, so the cotton candy grapes at Aldi are a bargain.
The packaging for the Aldi cotton candy grapes states they are sustainably grown and non-GMO. The package also says they are “Molina Quality” and lists a website: molinagroup.com, which takes you to to the website for Fresh Farms, a produce marketing company owned by the Molina family, which is based in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. They also have offices in California and Arizona. The Aldi grape packaging states these were grown and packed at Agropecuaria Las Mercedes SA de CV, which is in Mexico.
These are not Regular Buys that are on shelves year round, and while I don’t think they were officially labelled as Aldi Finds (Special Buys), that’s basically what they are. Most cotton candy grapes seem to be available in the late summer or early fall, but Fresh Farms’ website states that their cotton candy grapes are available in April, May, and June.
So if you see these in the store and you’ve been wanting to try them, don’t hesitate because they are not likely to stick around. I haven’t seen cotton candy grapes again at Aldi, but one can always hope.
As the packaging proclaims, cotton candy grapes really do taste like cotton candy. They’re made without genetic engineering or artificial flavors and contain a little more sugar than traditional grapes. If you’re a carnival food fan or are just looking for something a little different, these are worth trying, but they are seasonal and don’t tend to linger on the shelves, so you’ll need some luck to find them.