Food design: The stupidity of corn syrup

So here I am snacking on a box of Wheat Thins:

The bane of food design

Why on earth does a cracker have corn syrup in it? I ate from the same box yesterday — in fact it was my lunch — without noticing. I must have been hungier yesterday. Today I noticed how ridiculously sweet these crackers are. It’s not a cookie, it’s a cracker. Reading the ingredients, I discovered that a tomato basil flavored cracker (both savory flavory) contains both “sugar” and “high fructose corn syrup,” among a bunch of other big, scientific, un-food sounding words.

I stopped eating the crackers. Yes, I’m trying to avoid eating foods with corn syrup because it is bad for you. But the reason I stopped eating these crackers is because the sweetness ruined the taste. I’ve also stopped eating ice creams containing corn syrup. The syrup makes the dessert sticky and less like a good home-made ice cream.

Some sweetness isn’t always a bad thing in savory dishes. A staple in my house is curry; we use coconut milk as a base which adds a nice sweetness and flavor, without corn syrup. But corn syrup in crackers is plain dumb.

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About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

3 Responses to Food design: The stupidity of corn syrup

  1. Sheila West says:

    Here’s my nerdy answer to your very valid gripe:

    A freind of mine who runs a SMALL food manufacturing plant (about thirty employees) explained to me that she has to try and strike a balance between three financial factors when choosing what ingredients to put into her foods:

    [b]1) Ease of purchase and shipping[/b] (How far away does it ship from?–the Far East?? Latin America? Can’t we get something a little more local so we don’t have to pay all those tariffs? What do you mean it’s out of season right now?)

    [b]2) Compactness and simplicity of in-house storage[/b] (Refridgeration? Can’t we just put those 50-gallon barrels of the stuff into the warehouse at room temperature? Why do we utilize over 60% of our storage space on just that one ingredient? Can’t we buy something that’s been dehyrdated and then just-add-water to try and save space??)

    [b]3) Shelf-life/spoilage[/b] (If we don’t use that stuff up in the next two weeks it’s ALL gonna go bad! Can’t we put some kind of preservative in it to make it last a few extra months? Or maybe put it in the freezer? –No?? The freezer’s full already??)

    Yes, there are OTHER considerations of flavor, color, texture, aroma, etc. But those are issues of aesthetics and gastronomy, NOT the bottom line.

    Corn syrup (an ingredient that gets high scores with all three of the above considerations) is utilized for financial priorities rather than for flavor ones. And as long as the FDA says they can use it, they will.

    Oh and … my friend hates corn syrup and refuses to use it because she says it’s so terrible for you. But she admits she does get tempted from time to time to cross over to the dark side when money gets tight.

  2. TAE says:

    I’ve also heard that certain studies show how corn syrup (maybe sugars in general?) cause a person to feel hungrier and eat more, thus adding even more to a companies (probably) already obese bottom line — at least in the case of Nabisco.

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t usually rant like this, but since I could tie it into design *wink*

  3. Connie says:

    I’m with you! Why the heck do crackers need high fructose corn syrup? But it’s not just crackers. Thousands of foods these days
    are laden with the sweet stuff. Darn annoying!

    FYI, I delve into the potential dangers of HFCS in my new book SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books, 2007). I also discuss some recent research, which suggests that fructose is processed differently in our bodies.

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