“Food companies know how our brains work in a grocery store, and they pay big money for good placement.
Snack food companies have research team scientists dedicated to fine-tuning their snacks for maximum deliciousness (and addictive power).
They even use a chewing-simulation device to achieve the ideal crunch level for chips.
And they know that the louder chips crunch, the better they taste.
Coca-Cola’s scientists carefully calibrate Coke’s flavor to be distinctive yet “forgettable” because our tongues get tired of stronger, more recognizable tastes.
Cadbury’s scientists tested 61 different formulas to come up with the perfectly addictive Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper.
Studies show that salt is addictive in some of the same ways as cigarettes or hard drugs, and food companies pack it into their products in astonishing amounts.
Studies from as far back as 1991 show that salt activates the same neurological pathways that narcotics do, triggering the brain’s “pleasure center.”
Unlike sugar, which all babies love from birth, salt is an acquired taste. Kids who are exposed to salty foods before six months start to prefer salted over unsalted foods, while kids who aren’t exposed don’t.
And to manufacturers, salt isn’t just salt; each one is optimized for certain uses, and they have fun names like “Special Flake,” “Fine Flake Improved,” and “Shur-Flo Fine Flour Salt.”
Some Doritos have more than three times as much sodium as potato chips.
Three slices of ham can contain more than half a day’s recommended sodium intake.
Even V8 juice has 420mg of sodium per cup, or 20% of your daily recommended intake.
Commercially produced bread is heavy on salt because it keeps the machines from getting gummed up.
Many products are sweetened with pure fructose, which is different from regular table sugar (sucrose). It decomposes much more slowly, which extends shelf life of baked goods. It also resists forming crystals, which keeps cookies and ice cream soft. Additionally, fructose is much sweeter-tasting than sucrose or glucose, which means manufacturers can use less of it (and claim health benefits) while maintaining the same level of sweetness. BUT, for the record, regular sugar and “high-fructose” corn syrup are basically the same. Chemically, they’re both half glucose and half fructose. And they’re equally bad for you. Manufacturers tend to use the syrup because it’s cheap and convenient.
There’s as much sugar in half a cup of tomato sauce as there is in three Oreos.
“Fruit” drinks are some of the worst for you.
The American Heart Association’s recommendation for women’s sugar intake is just five teaspoons a day.
That’s half a can of Coke.
Fat’s allure is a little bit more complicated than salt or sugar. There are no taste buds on the tongue that specifically respond to it, but nonetheless it has been shown to trigger similar reactions to cocaine. Manufacturers load lots of packaged products with fat because it helps mask unpleasant or sharp flavors (often introduced by chemicals in the manufacturing process), gives foods an appealing texture, and extends shelf life.
Which is part of the reason that a large bag of Lay’s Chips packs one and a half days’ worth of fat (about 100g).
One Cheese Stuffed Crust Supreme Pizza has more than two days’ worth of saturated fat (42 grams).
Two spoonfuls of Philadelphia’s Indulgence chocolate cream cheese has a quarter of the daily maximum for saturated fat.
Packaged food executives don’t actually eat the products their companies make.
John Ruff from Kraft gave up sweet drinks and fatty snacks.
Bob Lin from Frito-Lay avoids potato chips.
Howard Moskowitz, a soft drink engineer, doesn’t drink soda.
Coca-Cola executives refer to consumers who drink more than two or three cans a day as “heavy users.”
The biggest food company, Kraft, was controlled by the biggest tobacco company, Altria (formerly Philip Morris) until 2007.”
[c/o Michael Moss]