The refashioning of junk foods as slightly more healthful items is nothing new, but recently, we’ve noticed something extreme happening in the snack world, and we’re not sure what to make of it.
We never got the appeal of Snackwells, because we’re pros at not watching what we eat, and there are just so many snack-able foods in this world that haven’t come out of plastic wrap. That said, the whole class of slightly-less-terrible-for-you snack foods seemed innocent enough if you were really fiendin’ for a sugar fix, and we couldn’t really condemn their existence.
However, the times? They are a-changing, and there is a whole new frontier beyond Snackwells. The plethora of low-fat or sugar-free prepackaged sweets lining the racks of bodegas is already mind-boggling, but the ways that junk foods can be turned “healthy” does not end there.
Why, just last week, we walked into a drugstore only to be confronted with a “Snickers: Charged” bar, which contains caffeine, taurine, and B-vitamins. B-VITAMINS! In your candy! After the jump: some of the more head-scratching happenings in snack food and beverage offerings across the nation.
In March 2007, Coca-Cola unveiled Diet Coke Plus, which is basically just regular old Diet Coke… but fortified with B-vitamins, magnesium, and zinc! This totally means that we can stop eating vegetables, and start chugging soda, right? All flippancy aside, we have mixed feelings about a gambit like this. On the one hand, if you were chaindrinking Diet Coke to begin with and switched over to Diet Coke Plus, you’re probably not worse off. On the other, the more likely outcome seems like a whole slew of arguments about how diet soda is “good” for you. We have yet to see anyone downing a Diet Coke Plus though, so it’s probably too early for outrage (or ringing endorsement).
On the candy front, our attention was brought to a claim that Gummi Bears might be good for your teeth. Xylitol, the sweetener used in Gummi Bears, helps combat a certain kind of tooth decay. We’re thinking that someone out there should promote the refrain “four Gummi Bears three times a day keeps the dentist away!”
Finally, we’re still stuck on that amped-up Snickers, which is meant to jumpstart a midafternoon slump. The press release from Mars includes the choice tidbit that the new candy bar “offers consumers a bar of substance and a delicious and satisfying way to tackle the afternoon hours when one needs to ‘re-power.’”
Of all of the ways that we’ve seen junk foods revamped into healthier incarnations, this is the one that seems the most wrong. What’s next, junk food manufacturers of the world? Marshmallows with 50% of our daily value of fiber? Calcium-fortified Twinkies? The line has got to be drawn somewhere.