Posts Tagged With: Snacks

Snacks 2.0: Bytes not bites

Lee LaGlitzer. Flickr. December 18, 2008.

Lee LaGlitzer. Flickr. December 18, 2008.

For many of us today, cookies are the identifiers left on our computers by the web sites we visit.  Unlike grandmother’s brownies or dad’s scones, they are hidden and questionable gifts.  The soft sweetness of these treats has become subject to greater scrutiny since grandmother’s youth, though.  Despite carob powder, honey, and whole wheat flour, there’s now concern about calories, saturated fats, and glucose.  Purchased, packaged cookies must have detailed labels of their ingredients, portions, and calorie counts.  Like digital cookies, they are now viewed with suspicion rather than smiles.

Will apples, pretzels, and nuts be not only the preferred, but also the required snacks of the future?  The absence of cookie jars from contemporary kitchen counters, homemade chocolate chip cookies from grade school bag lunches, and macaroons from the dinner table may be popularly attributed to the demands of paid work on parents’ time.  An inventory of kitchen cabinets, pantries, and grocery lists is required to test this hypothesis.  Further investigation of grocery receipts and glove compartments may be necessary.  Perhaps, cellophane packages of sandwich cookies, cardboard boxes of ginger snaps, and waxy bakery bags of sugar cookies are now reduced to guilty impulse purchases.  That is, they are plunked into a shopping cart only under the duress of a whining toddler or hungry adult.  Eaten quickly and surreptitiously in the car, the only remains are a few indistinguishable crumbs.

Although the ample variety and number of colorful packages in the cookie aisle at the local mega food mart belies these concerns, consider the strident advertising of their manufacturers.  If we increasingly ignore their saccharine flavor innovations, discounts, and reduced calorie counts, we may become slimmer and healthier.  Our culture, though, will have to change some cherished rituals.  Will auntie dole out boxes of raisins rather than oatmeal cookies for good behavior?  Will the local bakery specialize in vanilla biscotti and peanut butter bread sticks rather than snickerdoodles?  Will Santa Claus have to share Rudolph’s carrot and celery sticks?  Like cell phone manners and texting slang, the future is ours to embroider.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Artificial coloring: Cosmetics for food

Juushika Redgrave. Flickr. September 30, 2006.

Americans are all about visual appeal.  The risks of grooming vary from slight such as lipstick, eyebrow tweezing, and shaving through moderate such as hair coloring, hair plugs, and  dermabrasion to serious such as Botox, liposuction, and face lifts.  Is it any surprise that we like our food to be colorful?  Why else would neon green candies shaped like worms appeal to children?  If lime green fails to appeal, there are always electric blue frozen ice pops.  Teens may enjoy bright orange soda pop or vivid pink snack cakes.  For adults, sophistication requires pastels.  Strawberry ice cream must be pink.  Birthday and wedding cakes are decorated in pale hues of butter cream.  Think mauve roses, sky blue lettering, and lavender piping.  Salad dressings sport tints of orange or green unrelated to flavors of peach or mint.

If nature doesn’t provide our food with these cheery hues, food processors will add them.  Who wants to eat unadorned cold cereal, hot dogs, Jell-O, or crackers?  Would Lucky Charms taste as sweet without those marshmallows in delicate shades of pink, blue, green and yellow?  How would a transparent Jell-O do justice to a mold without its jewel tones of green, red, and orange?  Even milk becomes more appealing when rich brown chocolate syrup or powdered cocoa is added.

For the sake of safety, are we doomed to beige breakfasts of oatmeal or toast, cream-colored lunches of rice, tuna, or mashed potatoes, and drab dinners of tofu, pasta, or baked beans?  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, food coloring is safe to eat, that is, as long as you have not joined a competitive cupcake eating team.  So, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys sprinkles on your doughnuts, you can feel confident no American food must leave the factory without food coloring.  What’s your favorite color?  Would you rather wear it or eat it?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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Let them eat cake: The culture of Ding Dongs

Karen Neoh. Flickr. October 17, 2007.

American fast food may be defined as hamburgers and hotdogs, but we’re no shirkers when it comes to dessert, either.  Ding Dongs, Twinkies, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, and Oreos are all well-established American snacks.  Even more, “grab and go” has become the slogan of convenience stores and corner groceries as well as the motto of many Americans.  We still have our palates; those cakes must be sweet, moist, and colorful.  Who doesn’t have fond memories of biting into a golden-brown Twinkie to savor the sweet, creamy frosting within?

Science fiction to the contrary, the future has not brought us breakfasts of dry biscuits, meals in a pill, or flavorless liquid lunches.  American fast food meals may lack nourishment, but they achieve superior marks for efficiency, taste, and presentation.  As a respite from labor, an energy boost, and a reward or treat, snack cakes exceed chips, coffee, and diet soda.  Even red ripe apples and warm yellow bananas have difficulty competing with their colorful packaging and intense sweetness.

The cherished economy of snack cakes is fostered by their mass production and that of their ingredients.  The expected, but worrisome shelf-life of those lushly soft and sweet snack cakes accrues from the economies of their production.  Who would want to give up the savings of a box of individual packages of mini-doughnuts or fudge brownies?  A better measure of income and quality of life, then, is immunity to the charms of low-priced snacks.  Choosing the juicy, organic grapes, adding creamy avocados to sandwiches, or packing fresh strawberries for lunch should constitute an investment in one’s health, not a budgetary deficit.

What’s your favorite snack?  Why do you recommend it?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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