Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 4, 2014

Weird foods on our shelves

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — The Atlantic magazine reported recently that sales of frozen pre-packaged dinners are falling and Nestle is considering selling off its Lean Cuisine food line.

A company called Mintel did a survey and found that modern consumers don’t see frozen dinners as cost-effective, they don’t think they’re healthy, and it’s primarily young people who don’t like the frozen dinners anymore.

In my opinion, young people don’t like them because the choices aren’t weird enough. This is the generation that grew up on Sour Patch Kids candy. Ultra sour candy is just wrong, unless it's a lemon drop.

I didn’t grow up on Sourpatch Kids, so that puts me in with the classic TV dinner generation, you know, the frozen meals that came in an aluminum tray and had to be heated up in the oven?

Yes, Virginia, there was a time before microwave ovens when we used that big hot box that you’ve never touched to heat up our frozen fish sticks and Swiss steaks. The food didn’t taste any better, but it was way slower.

If they want to attract young people to frozen meals they need to offer things like “Hummus Stuffed Chili Rellenos” and “Soybean and Spam Curry.”

This falls into line with the new potato chip flavors. I like Flavor Blast Goldfish crackers just fine, but some of the tortilla and potato chip flavors are a little too over the top for me. Last year, Lay’s had a contest for new flavors and the top finalists were cheesy garlic bread, chicken and waffles, and Sriracha (a Thai hot sauce) flavors against each other. The garlic bread won, but these were potato chip flavors, people. What’s next, tuna-casserole flavored potato chips?

I went to London a couple of years ago and found the grocery store to be as fascinating as the palace for what it said about the people. Their chip flavors included Worchestershire sauce, smoky bacon, cheese and onion, and roast chicken, among others. Of course I tried them. They were pretty awful. The smoky bacon, for example, tasted like bacon in the same way that Bac-O's taste like bacon, which is to say, not that much.

In China you can get prawn chips, which are kind of like pork rinds made with shrimp paste. I liked them, but in China the Diet Coke tastes like Tab, and snake and shark are delicacies, so prawn chips aren’t the weirdest thing on the menu by a long stretch.

But the bottom line is that the food industry created this Frankenstein by perverting this generation’s little tastebuds. Now it’s time to pay the piper.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com