Corn. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Utterly.  Shocked.  is how I feel gazing upon the ingredients listed on one particular popular snack food.  And it isn’t one of those fancy gourmet all-natural whole food snacks, it is a classic that is probably in the kitchen of every child-wielding household.

Corn, corn oil, and salt.  And salt doesn’t even count, so it might just as well have said corn and corn oil, which could be summarized as “corn.”  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the reigning champion of snack food sorcery, the red-headed stepchild (no offense) of international superpower PepsiCo… Fritos.  Using only corn, the wizards of Frito-Lay are turning this:into this:

and that’s without the use of trans fat, gluten, artificial additives, dairy, msg, onions, or soy.  They’re Kosher too.

Just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy, I checked the ingredients of Doritos, another marvel of food science from PepsiCo…

Whole corn, vegetable oil (sunflower, canola, and/or corn oil), maltodextrin (made from corn), salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey, msg, buttermilk, Romano cheese (part-skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey protein concentrate, onion powder, corn flour, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, lactose, spices, artificial color (including yellow 6, yellow 5, and red 40), lactic acid, citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, skim milk, red and green bell pepper powder, disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate.

And Kellogg’s Wildlicious Wild Berry Pop-Tarts:

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B3], folic acid), corn syrup, HFCS, dextrose, sugar, soybean and palm oil (with TBHQ for freshness), contains two percent or less of cracker meal, wheat starch, salt, corn starch, dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), citric acid, gelatin, natural wildberry flavor, xanthan gum, caramel color, soy lecithin, modified wheat starch, blue #2 Lake, carmine color, vitamin A palmitate, red #40 lake, blue #1 lake, niacinamide, reduced iron, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), blue #2, yellow #5, riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), folic acid, and yellow #6.

Phew!  I feel a sense of relief knowing the war against processed food wasn’t won by trickery (without me).

The Breakfast of Champions?

  1. You’d be better off giving your kids a bowl of Fritos for breakfast instead of Pop-tarts.
  2. Fritos have one ingredient and Doritos have more than 20, but their macronutrient composition and crispy deliciousness is nearly identical.  If this isn’t black magic I don’t know what is.

Don’t get me wrong, Fritos are a metabolic disaster.  A mouthful of starch combined with pro-inflammatory corn oils is a little thing I like to call the liver destroyer.  But if we’re going to play dirty, Wildlicious Wild Berry Pop-tarts are like a bowl of high fructose corn syrup mixed with genetically modified vegetable oil, anti-food, and a crushed-up multi-vitamin.  Doritos are no better, sans the vits & mins.

So no, perhaps you wouldn’t be better off giving your kids a bowl of Fritos for breakfast after all.  Even if it has only one, easily pronounceable ingredient.  The amount of industrial processing that goes into making Fritos must be astronomical given that they have to make a crispity crunchity addictive treat with only one ingredient.  This is the beast we are up against:

the Frito KID

May the force be with you.



calories proper