When I was a kid, I was an avid cereal box-reader. Probably my favorite cereal was the one that came with a fold-open panel of different comic strips. Do I remember what the food tasted like? No. Do I recall there being Hagar the Horrible but no Calvin & Hobbes? Yes I do.
I may not know what is being described, but I still enjoy reading packaging. One day at concessions I went through all the types of candy and found out which ones had corn syrup (eleven of them) and which ones did not (three of them). No M&Ms or Skittles for you, health nut.
Not to say that this has changed me too much. I still like what I like. Do I pretty much agree with Animaniacs‘ satire? Yep. But even if I know what is in them, I will probably still eat them. Right?
I am not a nutritionist, but I know one or two and they are both nice people. I am not a chemist, nor have I ever taken chemistry. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a foodie. What I am is easily amused.
For each ingredient I did an online search. So yes, be skeptical. It is the internet after all. I tried to get two to three sources for each ingredient. And I avoided “wemakethisprpoduct.com” because their goal is to sell the product so they are most likely one-sided in their presentations. I did my best. I like to think my hours of searching are accurate, but do not go putting me down as the final expert here, okay?
The cast and crew involved in the production of BBQ Pringles; in order of appearance:
Dried potatoes- Take some cold potatoes, slice them, and then put them in cold water. Okay, I can comprehend that. Spuds partitioned off and exposed to moisture and air. Healthy!
Vegetable oil- (contains all or some of each) Ahhh, the non-committal phrases start already. Neat.
**Corn oil- (The stuff may help reduce LDL by 11%, rich in polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat; heart healthy) Sounds fine by me. Next!
**cottonseed oil- (contains only fat, high in calories, [1 tbsp=120 calories], low in monounsaturated fat, high in saturated fat, may contain pesticides) So… cottonseed oil is like death incarnate? Well that makes me feel all warm and squishy. Certainly it cannot get any worse than pesticides, right?
**soybean oil- (50% linoleic acid; omega-6 fatty acid, considered a healthy oil, prevents mosquito bites when applied to skin; when combined with avocado oil, helps with osteoarthritis in hip) Huh. It has a WebMD article and everything. You can balance out omega-6 and omega-3 acids. It seems to do nice things on the inside and the outside of your body. Cool. My new favorite oil? I think so.
**and/or sunflower oil- “not a healthy option at all”, says one foodie. Could cause inflammation in the body (which leads to heart disease and cancer). You are supposed to balance this out with walnuts or seafood, which I don’t. And here you thought those sunflowers were all pretty and cute. Nah, they are trouble.
Corn starch- thickener, anti-caking agent (corn kernels ground into fine agent) The only “starch” I know about is from ‘50’s television shows when the wacky housewife gets the husbands’ shirt to look like cardboard for the big meeting. I do find it curious that potato chips, known for being crisp, brittle, and flakey, would be less resilient without this thickener. Odd. Look, we know everything has corn, so let us just lump that under the whole corn-is-life category, shall we?
Degerminated yellow corn flour. As best as I can understand, corn. What I do know is that this was the only ingredient that had a link to a Cornell Law School website. They had to define what this stuff was for a law matter. I want to say, “it is just corn”, but that whole legal-thing has me mildly terrified.
Rice flour- “a fine flour made from ground rice”. Glutten free, thickener, sandy texture (shortbread) Man, they grind up a lot of stuff. (Fun fact, it seems that almost all foods that end in “-ose” are glutten-free. Who knew?) My parents always requested that I should eat more rice with dinner. Let us put the rice flour in the winner category.
Maltodextrin- sugar substitute, also called polysaccharide, derived from plants, but highly processed, comes from corn/ rice/ wheat/ potato starch, little to no taste, some studies link to suppression of good bacteria, making high consumption problematic for salmonella or E coli. A carb that affects your blood sugar (diabetics), may help lower blood sugar, used in sports drinks, same calories as sugar. Who would guess that something plant-based could turn evil? If only Magic Pickle were here to save us. I suppose if you yearn to contract a weakness for E coli, this is for you.
Sugar- Sugar. The stuff in cereal. And candy. Got it. I put sugar on my Raisin Bran and have yet to die.
Mono- and diglycerides- additive used to combine foods that don’t normally play nice, contains trans fats (affect cholesterol, increase risk of stroke/ diabetes/ heart troubles). I still do not know what a glyceride is, but apparently it is the mediator of conflicting elements. Y’know, like the recess attendant who kept the bullies from beating up the nerds on the monkey bars. However, even I know trans fats are hardly our friends.
2% or less of: Because if there were lots of it, mayhem would ensue. The world would explode!!! But there is so little of this stuff that we only list it to cover our legal behinds. Uh huh. Deeee-lightful.
Salt- salt. Got it. Sodium chloride, anti-caking, preserves foods by creating hostile environment for some organisms. Hey, another ingredient I know about! And use! Score! (Nice little science tidbit though, so thanks for that.)
Tomato powder- flavorful. Ground tomatoes taste more like tomatoes than actual tomatoes. I guess all those water and seeds were holding back the flavor’s true potentials. Everybody kept going on and on about how “just a little” will make your food full of tomatoey-ness. (Shrugs) Or so they say.
Monosodium Glutamate- MSG, “silent killer”, excitotoxin; overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death or brain damage, (obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue, depression, tingling and numbness, rapid heartbeat). If food is processed, it probably has MSG.
FDA WEBSITE, “sodium salt of the common amino acid, glutamic acid”. People claim to be sensitive, but scientists haven’t acquired firm results. Never able to confirm headaches or naseau. FDA asked independent research group Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology to examine MSG in ‘90’s.
They found mild symptoms; headache, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, drowsiness; but you had to consume over 3 mg, and the normal serving is less than .5 grams. Ahhh, that ingredient. The ingredient an episode of MacGyver called out. (Out in the Cold, Pete offers to go get Chinese food. Don’t challenge me on MacGyver!) The food probably has the worst rap of any ingredient in the world (outside of cleaning products and cigarettes.) What I find hilarious is that the federal government was unsuccessful in their research, so they farmed it out. Heh. Regardless, this is the only ingredient that has its very own FDA website. Comforting, truly.
Onion powder- ground onions. Noted. Flavor without the tears. Kind of like how shotgun weddings are ceremonies without the romance. (Y’know what? It is 3:26 in the morning. My mind goes places. Sheesh.)
Citric acid- weak, organic acid found in citrus fruits, natural preservative; biochemistry-intermediate citric acid cycle and occurs in the metabolism of all living things, cleaning agent, antioxidant. I could not find a single bad thing about this ingredient. I looked and looked and everybody was buddying up to it like a guy who hands out free coffee. I like citrus well enough, and it seems to be in all living things. Hooray for benign items.
Spice- I guess that means it has some spice. Well okay then. If you insist.
Garlic powder- ground garlic. Again, they took a veggie and ground the crud out of it. I am starting to think their kitchens are covered in a fine layer of vegetable dust and they have to sweep and vacuum every two minutes.
Yeast extract- adding sugar to yeast in a warm environment, similar to MSG, but less glutamates. Has more flavor than MSG, high in sodium, (avoid if have blood pressure or need to cut back on sodium), source of vitamin Bs. Like MSG, but less likely to torment you. Hmm. It kinda sounds like someone offering you one spoonful of castor oil as opposed to another guy who wants you to take two. And the first guy’s has salt (and vitamins). You and I both know we should run in the other direction.
Hydrolyzed corn protein (“hydrogenated oils and fats are extra-saturated and can increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL. … Yeah. Exactly. I get that it is made of corn. The internet claims that anything with the word “hydrolyzed” usually means bad bad bad. Again, I vote we lump in into the “corn is trouble” category and scoot away.
Malted barley flour- ground barley, tweaked a bit. There is nothing, nothing, on this ingredient. I caved on the “no producers” website and looked at a barley company’s website because I could not find information anywhere else. (Did I mention I tried to keep this article Wiki-free? It is quite challenge.) So yeah, all I know is that there is one more fine/powdery item, this time made from barley. Malted barley flour; for when your potato chips want to feel a little more like beer.
Natural smoke flavor- “The smoke is manufactured by burning woods at a high temperature, then capturing, condensing, and mixing the smoke with water. The liquid smoke can then be used as an additive”. May have some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are classified as carcinogens. is smokiness an ingredient? Apparently so. I was quite close to not looking up the ingredient because I thought it was self-explanatory. “It tastes like smoke because a part of the food was held over an open flame. Hey, they have baked potato chips; maybe this is a good thing?” Nope. No, we are being fed fire-smoke-moisture-liquid. Ew. Constantly morphing states are for shape-shifting aliens, not my belly.
Malic acid- usually found in apples, increases muscle performance, gives food a tart, sour taste. Again, a winner! Who does not like apples? I found nothing bad said about this guy either. It would appear that these “acids” just might be our allies. Kooky.
Disodium inosinate- don’t eat if you get kidney stones, flavor enhancer like MSG, commonly paired with it. I vote for a new sub-topic. We can it the MSG/preservative topic. And all the scary stuff that tags along with MSG, like yeast extract, is partitioned off into this category.
Disodium guanylate- used to add meaty or savory flavor, found in many of the same foods as MSG. Oh, hey neighbor! Welcome to the MSG community! We are a thriving and vibrant group of folks, and we are so happy you will be joining us! The more the merrier! Here, we made you a cake. Come, meet your new contemporaries.
Paprika extract (color)- a powdered spice made from peppers, light antioxidant. No, I do not know the difference between extract and powder. They only need it for color, right? And paprika is pretty natural, yes? It kinda hangs out there and does not bother anybody so we can call it a non-intrusive, non-positive element, right? Like a field of three-leaf clovers; it will not make things better, but it will not make things worse. Yes? Okay, we will go with that guess.
Wheat dextrose- finely ground corn starch? Another guess. Dextrose seemed to be “ground up stuff”. So either wheat or corn is being ground up. Plug it into either Cornville or Carbs R Us. Neither sounds too comforting. But one hopes we are in the “less than 1%” category by now.
Natural flavor. Sometimes food tastes like food. Or it tastes like the aluminum packaging that it comes in. I think we are fine admitting that some ingredients may, brace yourself here, taste like what they are. <gasp> I know! Still, it is the last ingredient, so there cannot be that much naturalness included. Breathe easy, consumer.
Thankfully, that is all there is. Did I learn a thing or two? Yep. Is it going to scare me off of Pringles forever? Well, I am pretty stubborn.
Besides, there are so many other choices! Original Pringles is always there for me. There is no possible way that Pringles Light has more chemicals in it, right? I mean, that simply could not happen. If I stick to Sour Cream & Onion Pringles, I bet I would not find any of these ingredients, amiright?
Yeah, I still love me some Pringles. I do not buy them that often. But at least now I know, when I eat them, what ingredients are causing my body to go horribly awry.