Monday, October 16, 2017

MSG - What I Never Knew

I was cleaning our cupboards recently, discarding old items, rearranging the spice cabinet, and out of curiosity just reading the labels of various products we had on hand. With my new found determination to eat a healthier life, it only seemed natural to know what we were using on occasion.

As I live in what I now call an "Asian" household, we have various spices most typically used in Asian cooking. What's most common on our shelf are flavor cubes, or bouillon (side note: I can't think of another word that has 3 vowels consecutively like that). If you're not familiar, these are stocks that have been dehydrated a formed in to cube or powdered. They are often rehydrated in a pot of water to re-form the stock they were once originally.

In reading the ingredients list, on the bouillon packaging, I learned that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is included. My initial reaction was WTF? I always thought this ingredient was completely bad for us. I mean, why else would Chinese restaurants claim that they use NO MSG on their menus?! But being the diligent, inquisitive fatboy that I am, I had to do some research. I am ignorant no longer.

The debate about the health effects of MSG has been going on forever. Here are 3 articles online that I found worth reading.

Despite the more recent conclusions that MSG is not necessarily bad for you, my take is that if you can't pronounce it and if healthcare professionals / scientists can't figure out if it's good or bad for you then it's worth staying away from. Don't get me wrong, if my mother-in-law uses these flavor cubes, and I eat her cooking once in a long while (which is the norm), I'm not going to freak out. It's not going to kill me. 

Anyway, I've been on an organic and (mostly) plant-based food kick (I still eat meat and indulge here and there) lately which isn't likely to change in the future considering the benefits I've been reaping, so it's unlikely that I'd encounter any MSG-related problem. More on my organic kick in a future post. In the meantime, have a read of the links and decide what you think about MSG. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Are You Sweet or Savory?

I'm addicted to sweets. It's my biggest diet downfall. No matter what time of day, I always have a craving for something sweet. I like that tingling feeling at the back of my neck when I indulge in something with some much sugar. Is that strange? I feel more calm. I feel satisfied.

I read an article recently that said sugar is not addictive. I'm pretty sure it was wrong. The basis was that,
“While it is true that a liking for sweet things can be habit-forming it is not addictive like opiates or cocaine,” said Sanders. “Individuals do not get withdrawal symptoms when they cut sugar intake.” 
I'm pretty sure I go through withdrawals every day that I don't have some sort of sugar. Even if it's just for 2 days. I have to eat some candy, cookies, cake, peanut butter, jelly, or fruit just to get my craving fulfilled.

Are you sweet or savory?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Marketing Genius Is Fun For All

In recent years, I've witnessed something that I don't believe was very common in the past. A company reaches out to the public for an opinion and in return a prize is awarded. It's possibly the best marketing that can be done. It calls for participation on the one hand (ie. buying the product to taste or submitting information for use). And on the other hand it garners attention and possibly customer acquisition.

Presently, there are 2 giants in the packaged food industry that are taking such an approach.

Lay's started their campaign to "Do Us A Flavor" in 2013 and has continued to gain traction ever since. The premise is to come up with a potato chip flavor that gains so much popularity (or at least the idea of it is so great) that Lay's creates it for mass production, after a thorough taste testing I'm sure.

The 3 Finalists

The Winner

The 2nd, in my opinion, successful attempt to get the public's attention was Mondelez's Limited Edition Mystery Oreo by Nabisco contest. Ever easier than Lay's, all you have to do is buy the mystery package at your local grocer, taste it, and enter your guess for what flavor it is on their website for the chance to win $50,000. Did we even need another reason to buy some Oreos?

Lays' Do Us A Flavor and Nabisco's Mystery Oreo are two contests that are a really fun / playful way to get their audiences involved, to market their products, and fill the void of creativity in coming up with new flavor profiles for their products. In a way, the public is doing the jobs of the product creators, but why not? It's interactive marketing at its finest. And it's a win-win situation. They get new customers, and the public gets new flavors.