Guess The Food #8: Sugar Town

Ok. You guys are really good at this series. I always think that these posts will be difficult but people usually nail them right away. Of course, it’s not really important if you get them right away or not. The goal is to get to know some of the ingredients that are going into food these days and get more comfortable reading nutritional information.

That said, I’m hoping this one is tough. Of course, I’m sure someone will get it right away, but maybe it’s tricky enough to keep you all stumped until lunch at least!

This is a pretty standard processed food item that’s completely filled with one thing and one thing only: SUGAR.

I’m hoping it’s tricky because that applies to about a million different processed foods these days.

We have a lot of ingredients to get through, so let’s dive in and take a look at the nutritional information and the ingredient list. Hopefully, you can guess the food!

The Nutritional Facts

The one thing that smacked me in the face when I first read this nutritional panel was the serving size. I was appalled.

They list the serving size as one, but I promise you that nobody eats only one of these. I think it’s physically impossible to eat one. This is pretty shady on their part, but I guess companies can define serving sizes however they want these days.

Keep in mind, when you look at these facts, to times them by two because literally nobody eats one.

Besides that, there’s really not a lot to say about the facts. There’s some fat, but actually not as much as I thought there might be. There’s some sodium, but again, not quite as much as I thought.

The real substance of this “food” is carbs. Lots of them. Eat two of these (which most people do) and you’ll be getting over a quarter of your daily carbs most of which is sugar.

17 grams of sugar will definitely put a skip in your step! It’s not soda levels of sugar, but it’s pretty darn close.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients and hopefully shed some light on this food.

The Ingredients

That’s some serious ingredients. Take a deep breath. We’ll get through them all!

Enriched Flour – Crappy white flour. They call it enriched because they strip out all the nutrients during processing and then have to add in (enrich) a few vitamins. The stuff in parenthesis is the stuff they add back in.

Why not just leave it as natural flour? Well, that would make it more nutritious, but decrease shelf life. What’s more important do you think?

Corn Syrup – We all know what this is. It’s thick and really sweet!

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Like corn syrup except even sweeter.

Dextrose – A fancy word for sugar.

Soybean and Palm Oil (with TBHQ for freshness) – Ok. I thought I knew what those oils are, but the TBHQ thing threw me for a loop. Turns out that this is a pretty intense chemical that preserves food “freshness” to an absurd degree. Besides being used in this food, it’s also sprayed on chicken McNuggets for example. I’m not sure that I trust the stuff honestly. Anything that preserves food for that long just can’t be natural or that good for you.

Sugar – Good old sugar.

So if you’re keeping track, 4 of the first 6 ingredients are basically sugars.

Cracker Meal – Just crushed up crackers really. Probably included to give the thing some texture.

Then we get into the 2% or less ingredients, which there are a bunch of!

Wheat Starch – A thickener made from wheat.

Salt – A pinch of salt never hurts!

Dried blueberries, grapes, and apples – Real fruit? Of course, if you look at the front of this box it screams about how much real fruit is jam packed in these things. Yea. Right. Less than 2% for each of these. There’s more salt than there is each of these.

Cornstarch- Much like wheat starch except made from corn.

Leavening- Basic ingredients that cause something to puff a bit.

Corn Cereal – I have no idea what this does in this food. Most corn cereal is puffed corn so I’m guessing that this is probably just for texture.

Citric AcidA natural preservative that’s common in fruits.

Gelatin –Thickener from collagen in animal skin and bones. Surprisingly makes this food a no-no for vegetarians which I didn’t know.

Modified Wheat Starch – The same starch as above except this kind has been, well, modified.

Soy Lecithin – A common emulsifier that helps keep stuff from separating.

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil – The same oils as above except these have been hydrogenated. This adds some trans fats to the food. Since the total amount is less than .5 grams per serving, they don’t have to list it in the nutritional information.

Modified Corn Starch – Same corn starch as above except, well, modified.

Xanthan GumA thickener.

Caramel Color – Gives a food a nice golden brown hue.

Red #40 – More color.

Vitamin A PalmitateA common vitamin A supplement that’s used to replace the natural vitamins that are stripped out during processing.

Tricalcium PhosphateUsed as an anti-caking agent or as a calcium supplement.

Color Added – Maybe the most generic ingredient ever listed. What the hell does this even mean?

NiacinamideYet another supplement.

Reduced Iron – More supplements! You would almost think these are good for you!

Natural and Artificial Flavors – Who doesn’t love flavor?

Blue #2 and Blue #1 – More colors. Sweet.

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6) – Vitamin B6 supplement.

Riboflavin (B2) – More supplements.

Thiamin Hydrochloride (B1) – Even more supplements.

Turmeric Color – No idea on this one. I guess they decided the food needed to look more turmeric like in appearance.

Folic Acid – Essential vitamin for humans. Just another vitamin.

PHEW! That was definitely the most ingredients ever in a Guess The Food. I half expected there to be a joke ingredient just to see if people were paying attention… although now that I think about it “COLOR ADDED” as an ingredient is a freakin’ joke.

The question is, did all of these ingredients help you?

Can you Guess this “food”??

20 comments on “Guess The Food #8: Sugar Town

  1. The dried blueberry/apple/etc helped me figure out they are pop tarts. And your clue about everyone eating 2 sealed the deal! I like this series — so interesting!

  2. I would guess Pop-Tarts or a Type of Fig Newton Cookie, or fruit filled Quaker Oat Bar.

    However I wanted to address your comment and to clarify about how serving sizes are arrived at. The FDA actually has all foods broken down into categories. Each category has a "typical" serving size, with some standards of deviation. Some foods especially confections/cookies are more difficult to arrive at standard sizes. Manufacturers are expected to follow these serving sizes and nutritional statements as part of NLEA – http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/InspectionGu… this guide is only a small portion of the actual regulations, but as you will see the table displays serving sizes of food types.

    I suggest to those that care — like Macheesmo, not to look at the recommended serving size, but rather what the actual nutritional data is. Here's an example Berkshire Grain Granola (www.berkshiregrain.com) gives information based on 1/4 cup or 30g (just over 1oz) — while other competitors states their info by the 1/2 cup 52-60g. We believe consumers need to determine their own portions if they care. Giving info in 1oz increments is easier to calculate for the consumer – x 1,2,3,4 oz.

    How do you use the nutrition as a counter after the fact — uh-oh that Starbucks Double Latte and Scone — damn I just consumed 1700 calories. Or do you look at the nutritional content and say 1 cookie is 50 calories and 5g of fat — I can eat "x" number of cookies.

    What makes these little games that Nick offers so valuable when considering how obese many are, there is a lot to be learned and understood
    My recent post Kids Love Making Pita Pizza with Wholesome Pizzazz!

  3. I was way off… but the masses have persuaded me to guess poptart. I was thinking nutrigrain bars.

  4. I was thinking a type of cereal bar but it must be pop tarts. Interesting, thanks for posting the information.

  5. Totally pop tarts! I actually have been known to eat only one Pop Tart in a sitting…but that was only after I read the nutritional information and realized "woah, even just one of these is a a total sugar bomb!" After that, I just didn't feel like finishing the other pop tart in the pouch…

    Great posts, Nick, keep 'em coming!

  6. My first guess was a toaster struedel. There probably isn't much difference between that and a pop tart. I also really enjoy these posts! Thanks!

  7. DEFINITELY Pop Tarts … as a vegetarian, I have to read the packages very carefully, as most (but not quite all) pop tarts have gelatin in the frosting (cause, really, who doesn't want cooked down animal skin and bones in their frosting??).

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