Fig Newtons, the American for fig rolls

Me eat cookies!

We marathon runners and sports folk are fond of our fig rolls. Packed full of energy, they see us through hard training sessions and races.

Our American friends have an equivalent called Fig Newtons, named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts near the factory that first produced them.

Fig Newtons don’t seem to be on sale in Europe, at least not in the American grocery stores I checked in Paris. So, for the purposes of research, I had a packet smuggled out of the United States and delivered to me in Europe. (I’d rather not think of how my biscuit mule managed to hide the packet from security and customs.)

How do Fig Newtons compare to our fig rolls here on the Old Continent? Let’s compare – a sort of fig roll Ryder Cup, if you will.

The main difference between the two is that Fig Newtons are softer and squishier than the biscuity shell of fig rolls. I would almost say that they are slightly damp. That said, sometimes fig rolls can be a bit dry – I usually have mine with a mug of tea or coffee.

The U.S. cookie tastes sweeter, perhaps because of the corn syrup it contains. I was also a little disconcerted to see among the ingredients “sulfur dioxide (sulfites) added to preserve freshness”. Sulphur dioxide, SO2, is released by volcanic eruptions and has been used as a refrigerant and a bleach. But before we Euros get all sniffy and superior, it also occurs in wine.

So, Fig Newtons aren’t quite as sickly to the European palette as Hershey’s or other American confectionery. But could a marathon runner live on them? I found them not to be particularly filling; a half-packet of 8 fig rolls would stuff me nicely, whereas I ploughed through 12 Fig Newtons in the same insubstantial way you would eat at McDonalds.

Added to that, Newtons are now available in other flavours such as strawberry and blueberry. This shows a distinct lack of dedication and singlemindedness that wins no favours with marathon runners. And I’ve never seen Cookie Monster eat them, surely a damning indictment for a biscuit. In this fig roll v Fig Newton Ryder Cup, it’s Europe for the win.

Here’s a campy ’70s TV commercial for Fig Newtons, closer in spirit to Olivia Newton-John than to Isaac Newton. Hit it, Hal!

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6 Responses to Fig Newtons, the American for fig rolls

  1. I usually buy a “no name” brand of fig newtons here in the US. They look like Fig Newtons but they are more chewey and substantial like your fig rolls. The last time we bought Fig Newtons we thought they were a littler mushy also. I eat 5-6 before a race and they seem to give me plenty of energy.
    Do fig rolls look like Fig Newtons or they entirely different?

    • Run and Jump says:

      Fig rolls are usually a little narrower and longer than Fig Newtons but otherwise look the same. I eat 8 fig rolls (half a packet) with some decaf coffee around an hour before I run and then the other half-packet afterwards, after my post-run meal. That’s probably some latent obsessive-compulsive streak in me making sure I finish the packet!

      I’m surprised how the fig roll companies (and perhaps even Newtons) haven’t yet started to promote their product as ‘food for runners’ – we eat loads of them!

      • I know. It seems like the perfect food for runners. Not sure what the GI is for these but it seems to be low.For President’s Choice Blue Menu Fig Fruit bars, a Canadian brand, the GI is 70 which seems high. I guess even the natural sugars in figs still have a high GI.
        I’ll do a post today with the link to a great web site to find the glycemic index of almost any food.

      • Run and Jump says:

        I’d better check out that link when you post it on your blog. So far I haven’t paid enough attention to things like GI – I’ve just been ‘eat it, run it, burn it’!

  2. smellingthehoneysuckle says:

    I didn’t realise they were a runners friend, We’ve been using Fig Rolls to help my 2 year old nephews ahem loo problem. Having eaten a few myself (to encourage him of course) they’re yummy and now I have a valid reason yay x

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