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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

151

Why Cheetos Are Perfect

On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends.

So begins the [14-page] feature in this weekend's New York Times Magazine on "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food," which is also an excerpt from author Michael Moss's book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, out February 26 (Amazon | Indiebound).

If it then makes you curious about what's new in the world of Lunchables (discussed in the piece at length), they now make varieties with smoothies, pizza, and flatbread, and they have a minorly amusing copy error on their home page: "Whichever you pack, it's sure to be fun your kids." But then is that actually a mistake? I want someone to befun me. Anyway, there's also Brunchables.



151 Comments / Post A Comment

iceberg

that bit from the post makes me think of the mob family meetings - did the CEOs meet in a disused warehouse on the outskirts of town? Were their town cars bulletproof?

KeLynn

@iceberg They were all definitely wearing impeccably tailored suits, intimidating sunglasses over steel cold eyes, and all camera angles were shot from below to truly convey their badassery.

Probs

"They now make varieties with...pizza"?? Man, those are the ones I grew up with. Miserly spread of sauce and cheese on the first two, ALL the sauce, ALL the cheese, ALL the pepperoni on the last one. A towering construct of food-like product, look on my works ye mighty and despair, etc. etc.

Madeline Shoes

@Probs This is the ONLY way to eat pizza lunchables. I think this method helped me learn "self control" as a child. This is a skill I may have forgotten as soon as I went off to college.

WaityKatie

@Madeline Shoes I love pizza lunchables. I only wish they had existed when I was a child. The sauce is delicious!

Hot Doom

No, but seriously, Cheetos really are perfect.

parallel-lines

@parallel-lines (it's funnier if you imagine the lady as a cheeto but I don't know photoshop)

highfivesforall

@parallel-lines Someone please do this.

whizz_dumb

@highfivesforall NO! If someone does that I will not get any work done for the rest of the day because I will just comment "HAHAHAHA" on this thread over and over.

highfivesforall

@whizz_dumb I couldn't wait:

parallel-lines

@highfivesforall Ack, it's not showing up for me!

Hot Doom

@highfivesforall God bless you.

highfivesforall

@parallel-lines Oh no! I uploaded it to imgur, so maybe that's blocked where you are?

@whizz_dumb, I'm waiting for the laffs.

whizz_dumb

@highfivesforall AH HAHAHA

whizz_dumb

@highfivesforall HAHAHAHA

highfivesforall

@parallel-lines Also don't worry, it's a shitty MS Paint job, I'm sure it looks better in your mind's eye.

whizz_dumb

@highfivesforall My coworker beyond the divider just heard me whisper-laugh, and I've gotten pretty good at silently laughing.

It is exactly how I envisioned it. Can't help noticing that it would look like the perfect mozzarella stick if you edited in some cheese spewing out the bottom left corner.

fondue with cheddar

@highfivesforall Nice! I like the lumpy ones though, not the puffy curls.

highfivesforall

@fondue with cheddar I also vastly prefer the lumpy ones, this one just looked more...picturesque.

fondue with cheddar

@highfivesforall You're right, and technically it is more perfect.

Alexmen

fondue with cheddar I also vastly prefer the lumpy ones, this one just looked more...what i found here

carolinaclay

Absolutely love this@y

Nicole Cliffe

I think "Salt Sugar Fat" would be a great name for a pop music trio, and would also provide so many options for pun-based "Behind the Music" voiceovers.

TheLetterL

@Nicole Cliffe "Their popularity skyrocketed almost as quickly as the BMI of the average person in the past few decades. But would the public ever reach satiety?"

Barry Grant

@Nicole Cliffe

The new Marry, Fuck, Kill?

WineRanger

Absolutely. If I weren't going out for cocktails this evening, they would be dinner. As it is, I will eat some salty, fatty, probably fried thing and wish I was eating Cheetos.

Hot Doom

Also, I really like the serving suggestion by the 50s psychologist to Frito-Lay about how potato chips could be "served as a vegetable on the main dish"
INDEED.

fondue with cheddar

@Hot Doom Like on a cheeseburger?

Alexmen

I think "Salt Sugar Fat" would be a great name for a pop music trio, and would also provide so many options for pun-based "Behind the Music" voiceovers......world news

teaandcakeordeath

I like thee idea of befun. I'm trying to picture it in a sentence. "Nice to befun you"?

Edith Zimmerman

@teaandcakeordeath I wish someone would come over and befun me, but mostly I just befun myself.

Haha, sorry!

whizz_dumb

@Edith Zimmerman Immediately thought that to befun someone, well it isn't exactly good clean fun.

teaandcakeordeath

@Edith Zimmerman
Ahaha that sounds much better!
(erm ... you know what I mean)

A. Louise

That picture makes me want a Lunchable SO MUCH. But an old school one like that. None of this pizza nonsense.

Madeline Shoes

@A. Louise the only thing I took from this article was "do you think the CVS across the street sells Lunchables?" I'm pretty sure that was NOT the point.

A. Louise

@Madeline Shoes definitely went and looked at the mini-grocery store/hot lunch place near my work for one today, with no luck. I think I'm going to just have to make my own + wine later today.

They should really make them for adults with a juice box of wine (or several) included.

saritasara

@A. Louise Lunchables are my secret love. I think it stems from the fact that I always wanted them as a child but my mother refused to ever buy them for me because "they have too much salt."

Tuna Surprise

It's tradition in my office (in London) to bring back treats for the office when you travel. When I took a business trip to New York in January, I asked a co-worker what I should bring back. He said "Cheetos"! Apparently, you can't buy them in the UK and someone got the support staff hooked a few years ago. So I stopped by Duane Reade on my way to the airport and bought two huge '[American] family sized' bags and when I took them in the office, people were seriously delighted. They have been rationing them out to make the bags last longer. It's neon orange crack.

iceberg

@Tuna Surprise I find it hard to believe there's no UK equivalent! In Australia we have Twisties.

Ophelia

@Tuna Surprise On the other hand, I once brought candy corn back to the UK, and everyone was roundly disgusted. Clearly I should've gone the Cheetos route (though I like cheez doodles better. *ducks*).

meetapossum

@iceberg There are Quavers, which are a similar puffy texture, but not even close to the same taste.

WaityKatie

@Ophelia Imported Reese's Pieces also seem to be uncommonly popular over there.

Caitlin Podiak

@Tuna Surprise By the end of my semester in Scotland I came to prefer Wotsits over Cheetos. Plus the name is way cuter.

laurel

How have the ugly twisted hard crunch of Cheetos overtaken the sublime delicate crisp of Cheesepuffs? I do not understand my own culture.

A. Louise

@laurel AGREED. Cheetos always cut up the roof of my mouth, much like Captain Crunch. Cheesepuffs/cheeseballs are where my true snack shoving loyalties lie.

fondue with cheddar

@A. Louise Really? I have that problem with Cap'n Crunch, but not Cheetos. I don't like the puff texture, so I like the hard, lumpy ones.

A. Louise

@fondue with cheddar Yep! I think I have a high maintenance/ sensitive mouth. If all food could be blended into something like mashed potatoes, I'd be in heaven.

I like to suck on the cheese puffs so they disintegrate (weird, I know) so I probably try to do that with Cheetos and get the dreaded "crunch mouth".

We always used to only get cheeseballs as a treat when we went on vacation, so I think some of that residual "Today is a special day!" feeling is there as well.

Wow, I have thought about all of this far too much. Bless you, Hairpin.

fondue with cheddar

@A. Louise I used to use that, but I've gotten more psychologically texture-sensitive as I've gotten older, and I don't like the thought of mushy cheese puffs.

Because they're so skinny, I think I eat Cheetos entirely on the side of my mouth so they don't really touch the roof, just my teeth.

A. Louise

@fondue with cheddar this is fascinating! I'm glad I'm not alone on weird food habits. Will somebody write/ lead me to a book about the way people eat things?

fondue with cheddar

@A. Louise Ooh, I would be all about such a book! I have so many weird food habits. It's a wonder I've managed to stay alive this long.

Maryaed

I feel Lunchables were specifically designed to enrage me.

ayo nicole

@Maryaed I misread that as "enlarge" and thought, "well..."

Probs

I just got some Cheetos. I take a "YOLO, thank god" outlook on life. One heaping orange helping of Thanatos urge, please!

Probs

@Probs I would 100% eat a sugary breakfast cereal called Thanat-Os

03313961h

@laurel Go ahead and use "discharged" that way, sure, but maybe not in the first sentence. My reading mind (nonetheless dirty) balked at that. Somewhat related: The band Discharge rules. baby neutral gender bedding

whizz_dumb

Go ahead and use "discharged" that way, sure, but maybe not in the first sentence. My reading mind (nonetheless dirty) balked at that. Somewhat related: The band Discharge rules.

fondue with cheddar

@whizz_dumb Yeah, please do not use the word "discharge" in relation to food.

queenofbithynia

I’ve optimized soups,” Moskowitz told me. I’ve optimized pizzas. I’ve optimized salad dressings and pickles.

health and ethics aside, it must be so much better to tell people you're a pickle optimizer than to be that guy from a few days back who wallowed in tubs of olive oil for a living.

pickle optimizer!

KeLynn

@queenofbithynia Think of the business cards!

parallel-lines

When I was a kid growing up in Minneapolis, they regularly opened Pillsbury headquarters to tours for grade school classes. We got free play-doh and crescent rolls, the the place had a very Mary Tyler-Moore sort of feel to it. Who knew such nefarious things were underfoot?!

highfivesforall

I tried to read a book a couple of years ago that sounded like it was going to be a lot like this one, but I put it down after all it did was talk about various foods at Applebee's or whatever and how much salt, sugar, and fat they had in them, and that was why we liked them so much. Seriously, just page after page of describing the content of a bunch of stuff we already knew was bad for us - does anybody know what book I'm talking about? This one seems way better.

iceberg

@highfivesforall No idea about the book, but I remember watching some show about the human body and why we like salty fatty foods, and the guy explaining how we've needed these fat-rich foods for the vast majority of human existence (because hunter/gatherers need a lot of energy, I think) and it's only very recently that the human lifestyle has changed to not need that diet, and to expain the time lengths he showed these two trees that were pretty far apart, like a hundred feet or something, and the distance between them was humans existence, and the width of the pencil he held up right next to the close tree was the length of time we haven't needed that diet. I loved it and I talk about it all the time, mainly to justify my french fry consumption.

Ophelia

@highfivesforall Also...this is one of those things where...I probably eat at an Applebee's-type place maybe once a year? And I KNOW it's terrible for you. That's part of why I'm going. I most definitely do not want to know, for that brief shining hour, what I'm eating. I'll get back to my kale salad tomorrow, TYVM.

greengables

@highfivesforall
That sounds like The End of Overeating, maybe? A book which did not, in fact, offer any tips about ending overeating, but did helpfully explain why Cinnabons are bad for you.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-9781605297859-31

DullHypothesis

I worked for a CPG marketing firm straight out of college doing analytics. Let me tell you, these companies spend good fucking money to get you to buy their shit. Every step of the line is designed to get us to shove as much of their product into our mouths as possible. It's almost beautiful in it's vicious efficiency.

SuperGogo

@DullHypothesis Ah, was there ever a country whose astounding efficiency and inventiveness so thoroughly trumped its moral compass?

Ialdagorth

The mini Taco Lunchables are an abomination against God, man, and tacos.

I say this as adult perseon who will still occasionally eat a Totinos party pizza for dinner (THE WHOLE THING because they don't reheat well and uh, waste not and all that) just like I did in college. Only now I use a plate, and not the cardboard box the pizza came in cause I didn't own any plates back then. But now I have plates. TONS of plates, man. #swag

Brunhilde

@Ialdagorth Hey, it's the #1 party pizza in the nation! (which I also still sometimes eat).

Ialdagorth

@Brunhilde HELL YES IT IS.

Note the 1# party pizza, not regular pizza. As there is a distinct difference, no doubt.

shantasybaby

@Ialdagorth Pizza rolls are more my steez

lisma

Has anyone had the XXTRA FLAMING HOT Cheetos? Those are my ultimate weakness in life, I think.

Julie the T

I could get behind some Brunchables. As long as they come with a Bloody Mary in a Capri Sun pouch.

KeLynn

@Julie the T I LOVE THIS.

par_parenthese

@Julie the T Can I get a can of Mimosa instead? Because if that's an option, dibs.

DianaPrince

@par_parenthese That's the best idea ever, why are canned mimosas not a thing yet? Get on it, morally bankrupt food companies!

Brunhilde

Flaming hot cheetos with lime are the my kryptonite.

Madeline Shoes

I feel like this article was written for me - in college I lived on what friends have referred to as the "Dr. Pepper and Cheeto" diet.

fondue with cheddar

@Madeline Shoes It was Dr. Pepper and Cheez-Its for me. Oh, and Yoo-Hoo when I wanted to be healthy.

Ophelia

@fondue with cheddar I think you forgot Easy-Mac and Snapple...

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia There was no Easy Mac when I was in college! :( But we did make a lot of ramen in my roommate's coffeemaker.

Adult Footie Pajamas

My dad is an oral surgeon, nutritionist, and triathlete. There was never anything pre-packaged in my house. No soda, no white flour, no sugary cereals, NOTHING. (I mean, we went out for ice cream like normal people, but you get the gist.) When I'd go over to friends' houses and they had CHIPS and FRUIT SNACKS, it was always this emotionally fraught thing, where I was bewildered and fascinated by it- as if they had a monkey butler who shot flaming arrows at the mail person or something. When I was 18 and moved out, I went and bought a box of Gushers. I ate all of them in one sitting and promptly got sick. My roommate thought I was vomiting blood and panicked. Now I live in Portland and survive mostly on kale and doughnuts.

Ophelia

@Adult Footie Pajamas My parents were not quite this strict, but our exposure to things like twinkies and kraft american cheese was veeerrry limited. I remember, when I was 12, I finally had the opportunity to eat a twinkie, and I was SO EXCITED. ...and then I took one bite and threw the rest away. Blech.

Sallymander

Ugh I try not to be one of those precious, impressionable people who reacts to every sensational piece about how modern life is killing us all, but, BUT! THIS ARTICLE! Now I'm thinking about my own capacity (nay, desire) to eat infinite Cheetos and experiencing an existential crisis. Are all my snacking tastes and preferences shaped by the invisible sculptors that are these processed food marketers???

KeLynn

@Sallymander I'm with you. The food industry scares the shit out of me. They're not selling nutrition, they're selling edible substances, and they're sneaky as hell about it. The grocery store is a minefield!

par_parenthese

@Sallymander

FOOOOD INDUSTRYYYYYYYY!
*shakes fist*

iceberg

brb buying some cheetos.

Diana

No scene in television has ever spoken so strongly to me as the bit in 30 Rock when Liz Lemon realizes she isn't pregnant, that's just the bull semen additives in her off-brand Mexican cheese puffs, and when Jack comes over to console her he realizes she is still eating them.

iceberg

@Diana Sabor de Soledad! YES.

shantasybaby

@Diana This is what Meat Cat spoke of!

fondue with cheddar

I've recently become addicted to Popcorners. The texture is a cross between Cheetos and Doritos, and they come in a whole bunch of flavors (I've only had white cheddar and caramel so far).

shantasybaby

@fondue with cheddar I have recently become addicted to Cookie Chips which are just like amazing delicious crispy thing cookies in a bag. I need to stop leaving them in my car and eating them at will during my commute, maybe.

fondue with cheddar

@shantasybaby Ooh, I saw those but I was afraid to try them because they looked too irresistible.

QuadrophonicSound

Logged in just to note that I was sitting down to read this on my lunch break at work... while shoveling Nacho Cheese Doritos into my mouth. GOOD CHOICES.

par_parenthese

All I want to do right now -- ALL -- is go to my nearest gas station and buy a can of cheese puffs and eat them with a toothpick like Rainman.

stonefruit

Well, I managed to hold out 24 hours, but I succumbed to temptation and bought a bag of Cheetos this morning. The power of suggestion, y'all.

bill.marks

I was sitting down to read this on my lunch break at work... while shoveling Nacho Cheese Doritos into my mouth. GOOD CHOICES.
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jimmyrapper

I feel like this article was written for me - in college I lived on what friends have referred to as the "Dr. Pepper and Cheeto" diet. snerydning nordsjælland

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I think we were at some family friend's housewarming party and a grownup took my ginger ale by mistake. I promptly spit it back out all over the carpet, and then cried cause I felt guilty about making a mess. nopea raha

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I think "Salt Sugar Fat" would be a great name for a pop music trio, and would also provide so many options for pun-based "Behind the Music" voiceovers. lion air

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@Sallymander I'm with you. The food industry scares the shit out of me. They're not selling nutrition, they're selling edible substances, and they're sneaky as hell about it. The grocery store is a minefield! dale buczkowski

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