Foodies’ secret love for mass-produced munchies

As I mentioned awhile back, The Conscientious Omnivore is not above scarfing down MUNCHIES® and jellybeans now and then. This piece from Jeff Gordinier in Monday’s New York Times reassuringly points out that even haute cuisine chefs and devoted locavores can have a soft spot for some mass-market, factory-made food products.

As the article notes, some of us can’t let go of industrial foodstuffs because they hit our nostalgia nerve, whisking us back to childhood. For example, I’m still staunchly on the side of Jif in the Skippy vs. Jif battle, even though nowadays I enjoy and only buy natural, organic PB. I’m also old enough to have discovered just how delicious a pretzel sandwiched between two Doritos could be, long before Frito-Lay started producing the aforementioned MUNCHIES®. On the other hand, many childhood pleasures no longer hold any appeal for me (e.g., Ho Hos and Twinkies), and some have been replaced by pleasures that I discovered as an adult. (Yay, Swedish fish!)

Given the moralistic judgment inherent in calling such food “guilty pleasures,” I was glad to see that Gordinier talked with Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of White Bread: “The way he sees it, arguments about food too often degenerate into a false duality between ‘the virtuous people’ and ‘the pitiful people in need of saving who just can’t make the right decisions.'”

Head here for the full piece.


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