“There must be an extruder”

A friend was recently enjoying cheese puffs (at the end of a meal otherwise full of whole grains and veggies) and wondered aloud how the airy things are manufactured. I’ve seen enough episodes of How It’s Made that I was feeling pretty confident when I said, “There must be an extruder.” Sure enough, this detailed description explains the process, which apparently involves the same basic steps regardless of whether you’re talking puffs, curls, balls, or even rings. The primary ingredient in all of these products: corn meal.

To watch the process in action, check out the video below of a FUNYUNS® factory. Surprisingly, this is exactly how my grandma used to make these! Seriously, though, as Michael Pollan details in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the outcomes of ag policies that keep corn prices low is manufacturers making and promoting as many edible corn-based products as possible. Hence the many variations on this particular theme.

(By the way, the audio and video aren’t in sync in the clip above, but thankfully talking heads don’t dominate the footage.)

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