Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is a Milkshake: Let's Call a Spade a Spade

When I think about how uneducated people in the U.S. are about food and nutrition, it makes me angry. And I don't blame The People entirely (though I do think individuals should be held accountable for at least some modicum of their own ignorance).

No. Who I really blame are the companies that push "product" on the people and pretend that it's food. More and more I'm recognizing this difference between product and food, so let's play a little game. Can you identify the "foods" shown below?

What is this?

(Thanks to Tsutsui Igor for the photo.)
If you said coffee, you're wrong!

Did you say Frappuccino? Nope, that's a brand-name product.

This is a milkshake.

Next question:
What is this?

(Thanks to terfe for the photo.)
It's not breakfast!

It's not a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

It's cake!

Next round! This one is hard.
What is this?

(Thanks nycwatchdog for the photo.)

Despite the company's name, it's not juice.

It's certainly not breakfast or lunch.

It's not a "meal replacement."

It's not a "protein" or "power" anything.

It's not a smoothie either.

It's a milkshake, a sherbet milkshake!

Okay, last one:
What's this?

(Thanks, TheFrugalGirls! Hey, did you know Kashi is Kellogg's?)
You know what this is? It's a candy bar.

I know my sisters are going to comment with other ideas of products masquerading as food. I anxiously await those comments!


Grace said...

Geez, Debbie Downer, I feel like you just told me Santa isn't real.

In seriousness, I'm glad you did not try to tell us that muffins are merely cake you eat in the morning. People often try to say they are the same, but the fact is that cake has a much higher sugar and butter content. Let's be clear about that!

Denise said...

Wow, Jill - I knew about the Starbucks and the Jamba Juice... But the Kashi Go-Lean Bars? I am as bummed as I was the day I realized oat bran muffins were cake in disguise

Jill Duffy said...

Oh, Grace... Sorry, but muffins are a BIG offender! One Otis Spunkmeyer Wild Blueberry "Muffin" has 420 calories and 22 grams of fat. Granted a "serving" size is supposed to be half a muffin, but still almost half the calories are from fat. Betty Crocker Supermoist Butter Yellow Cake (probably the Betty Crocker cake with the most adjectives and therefore the most rich), without frosting and prepared to package instructions has 250 calories and 10 grams of fat. They are comparable.

Jill Duffy said...

Note: Denise and Grace wrote their comments synchronously, so Denise didn't see Grace's comment when she wrote it.

Grace said...

They are not comparable! First of all, you have to consider portion sizes. The spunky muffins are massive and the cake portions comparatively smaller by volume. Second, there is no accounting for the extra preservatives and crap that companies put into prepared food, and the amount of calories and fat they add. However, it is different if you make it properly from scratch using real ingredients and no unnecessary fillers or preservatives. If I were to take my Better Homes and Gardens red plaid classic recipe for cake and frosting and compare it to the recipe for muffins, I think that proves my point. A piece of yellow cake with buttercream frosting is 743 calories and 26 grams of fat. A muffin is only 136 calories and 5 grams of fat. Therefore a serving of cake is much more unhealthy than a muffin. Cake ≠ muffin. QED.

hreeves said...

Lol yeah, Grace is deluded. Muffins are cake. Bran muffins, still cake. Oatmeal cookies, still cookies but acceptable for breakfast.

Many juices are not juice. Nothing was juiced. They are sugar waters. ex)Sunny Delight. Less than 2% juice does not equal juice.

Breathmints are candy. And conversly, candy canes are not breath enhancers.

Grace said...

But the constituent elements of a substance do effect what the substance is!!! Muffins are substantially different from cake not just in nutritional content (or relative lack thereof) but cake also has significantly more butter and sugar per serving than muffins. To say they're still the same is like saying bread is the same as cake. Bread has a similar texture with a 'crumb' so to speak. It also contains calories and fat. In this case however, it is a matter of degree. If there were a spectrum of nutritional value, bread would be of the highest value and cake of the lowest. Muffins would fall somewhere in between. However, each would occupy distinct bands of the spectrum and are different. For example, bread is red, muffins are indigo and cake is violet, on the ROY G BIV spectrum. I don't know what you people put in your muffins that makes you think they're the same as cake. For one thing muffins don't even have frosting. Cake without frosting is still significantly different from muffins for the reasons I have outlined. These are the last words I have to spare for this subject.

Jill Duffy said...

Actually, I'll back Grace up for a moment with a clarification.

Yes, if you make muffins at home from scratch, they can be "not as bad as cake" (although they are still VERY cake-like). But my point in the blog is that "products" are often calling themselves one thing but are in fact another. Any shelf-stable "muffin" out there is not a muffin, I assure you.

I showed up at my friend's house last night sucking down an iced coffee from a nearby deli. "Oh," he teased me, "what have you got there? A milkshake?"

But my coffee was just that: coffee, poured over ice, with about an eighth of a cup of whole milk stirred in. That's hardly the same thing as a Frappuccino.

Similarly, if you blend a half cup ice with a half cup yogurt* (see note), a banana, and a few mango spears or berries, that's a smoothie. It's perfectly acceptable to call that a smoothie. But a "Jamba Juice," with all that other sweetening crap in it, weighing in at a solid 24 oz. for a medium, well, that's hardly a smoothie.

Note: About a year ago I started paying attention to how much sugar is in plain yogurt, and I was appalled... and heart broken! I love yogurt, but store-bought plain yogurt has a ton of added sugar, especially if it's low-fat or fat-free. Columbo is least offensive of the major brands. And Greek-style yogurts are actually quite sensible.

Jill Duffy said...

Oh, and I have no problem eating a small piece of "cake" for breakfast, but I'll admit it's cake (and sometimes it is really cake, with frosting, and the last few letters of "happy birthday" and all)! I'll eat a small piece of chocolate with breakfast sometimes, too.

Denise said...

In a New York Times article, Melissa Clark asks a pastry chef friend what the difference between Cupcakes and Muffins:

'Nothing,' he said, explaining that when it comes to breakfast, Americans have a Puritanical inhibition. 'Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast'

Denise said...

BTW... While we are on the subject - I would like to add that Starbucks has ruined another food item which I hold dear to my heart - The Biscotti. The poor little biscotti has now been relegated to nothing more than an overly sweet cookie.

A true biscotti has very little sugar and butter and is more of a hard biscuit meant to be dunked in wine or strong coffee. It has very little sugar and not much butter at all.

Jill Duffy said...

Yes! The biscotti! I use no butter at all in mine: recipe here.

Leigh said...

I actually have nothing to add to this except that this post was HILARIOUS!! I LOL-ed all over the place.

Leigh said...

I thought about this this morning as I drank a glass of "brain juice" (real juice from a cabbage, green beans, beet tops, oranges, and peaches) and then ate a big slice of homemade zucchini bread. I know what goes into that zucchini bread (and by the way, I could have poured that batter into muffin tins and just as easily had zucchini muffins) and I did NOT feel like I was eating something other than dessert. Sugar, flour, eggs, butter. it's cake.

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