Monday, January 30, 2012

Secret Pleasures and Public Perils of Industrial-Made Frosting

Do you stash canned frosting in the back of your crammed refrigerator hidden from the view of family nutrition nazis, ready for a stealth shot of that luscious sugar-high? 

Do you secretly frost family cakes and cookies with canned confections, embarrassed to publicly confess that you're not Martha Stewart's kindred kitchen spirit?  

If so, you're not alone. Absolutely no one admits to buying canned, premade frosting, even though millions of the vividly-colored cans are sold each year by grocery stores, WalMart, Target and the like. 

It seems to make good sense: you're in a hurry, it's 7 pm, and your child needs frosted cupcakes tomorrow for a school party. Whip up the goodies using a quick cake mix; top with vibrantly colored, easy-spread canned frosting... and presto! Time-crunch dilemma solved. 

Problem is... canned frosting is essentially a chemical concoction, with a long list of ingredients that would confound anyone but a professional food chemist.  Certainly nothing your grandmother could identify as a real food, except sugar. 

Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Strawberry Frosting, for instance, contains no strawberries. Or butter. Or cream or milk. And is ridiculously high in saturated fats. Instead, the gooey, bubblegum-pink glop's ingredients include:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Handier, Saltier, Gluey Cheddar Cheese

Admit it!  You love the salty, smooth deliciousness of melted Kraft singles slices clinging neatly to your burgers, whether grilled or sizzled on stove top.  We all do. 

And Kraft singles are so darned convenient. Neatly pre-sliced into  .75 oz, 60-calorie squares, Velveeta slices are sensationally handy for snacking or last-minute quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, or over tortilla chips... without all that messy grating or choosing expensive cheeses. 

Or buying actual cheese at all, since 
Kraft Velveeta Slices don't meet the USDA definition of cheese, or that of any country with official standards to grade good-quality cheese. 

Instead, the artificially-colored orangey slices are  an industrial "pasteurized prepared cheese product," also known as processed cheese. Or government cheese, because processed cheeses are commonly served in public school lunches and included in cartons of municipal food handouts. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twinkie Owner Bankruptcy: Good and Bad News for Fake Food Fans

Heartbreaking news for fake food aficionados: Hostess Brands, the maker of delectable, cream-a-licious Twinkies has filed for bankruptcy. Again. The second time since 2004.

The Wall Street Journal explains, "Sales of Hostess's signature Twinkies have recently declined a bit while the overall bakery snacks category has been about flat. Nearly 36 million packages of Twinkies were sold in the year ended Dec. 25, down almost 2% from a year earlier... Hostess also has had trouble attracting consumers who have migrated away from white bread to whole grains and other healthier foods." 

Another famed Hostess product is Wonder Bread, a malleable, snow-white bread first advertised in 1921 as a "wonder" that would not dry out when sliced. In the 1940s, Wonder Bread's baker "began adding vitamins and minerals to Wonder Bread as part of a government-sponsored program of enriching white bread which was notoriously deficient in vitamin and mineral content" per Wikipedia.

Twinkies are perhaps the iconic American snack fake food and secret junk-food vice.