by Mad Dog
Soon you’ll be
able to buy Kool Blue French fries, which are “sky blue seasoned,”
and Cocoa Crispers, which are— hang onto your sweet tooth— chocolate
||As if it wasn’t enough
that every food product on the grocery shelf now comes in fourteen
variations—including low fat, no fat, cholesterol-free, decaf, high
fiber, sugar-free, taste-free, chunky, calcium added, unscented, extra
strength, and if you’re lucky, regular—now you have to decide what
color you want.
It started a couple of years ago when
Heinz (motto: “57,000 varieties”) came out with Blastin’ Green
ketchup for kids. It’s pretty much the same as boring old red ketchup
except it looks like it’s been sitting out for way too long. It went
over so well with parents who will buy their children anything in order
to shut them up that the following year Heinz put out Funky Purple,
which tastes just like the other colors except it makes you think
you’re eating Barney. Come to think of it, that may not be such a bad
Now Ore-Ida, a division of—yes, you
guess it—Heinz, is getting ready to roll out Funky Fries, a line of
specially flavored and shaped French fries which include brown and blue
versions. That’s right, soon you’ll be able to buy Kool Blue French
fries, which are “sky blue seasoned,” and Cocoa Crispers, which
are—hang onto your sweet tooth—chocolate flavored. MMMmmmmmm! So far
Heinz hasn’t said what sky blue tastes like but I suspect it’s the
same as sky blue Popsicles. Whatever flavor those are.
The idea of brown chocolate French
fries covered in purple ketchup is not only disgusting from a taste
point of view, but from an aesthetic one too. If this trend keeps up
refrigerators will not only have ice makers, water dispensers, Internet
hook-ups, and fondue pots built in, but will come with a color wheel
attached. Either that or Heinz will hook up with Garanimals to make it
easier to color coordinate dinner.
in New Zealand (motto: “The Other Australia”) have developed a kiwi
fruit with gold flesh, no hair on the outside, and a sweeter taste.
Other than those changes it’s the exact same fruit.
One product that’s always been in the colored food category is
about to add a new hue. As if the hip-but-icky blue M&M’s they
picked seven years ago to replace boring, staid, oh-so-‘80s tan
wasn’t bad enough, now they’re looking to add either purple, pink,
or aqua. This being the Democratic Decade, they figure that if we can
vote people off an island, vote on what we think the right answer is so
someone else can become a millionaire, and vote for whether we think a
referee made a good call or not, we should be able to vote for this.
That’s why you can go to their web site (www.mms.com)
between March 6th and May 31st and cast a ballot for the color of your
choice. Well, that and the fact that it’s a huge free publicity
bonanza for them.
Most of these products are being
colorized thanks to food dyes that have numbers instead of names, but
some are being done naturally. Scientists in New Zealand (motto: “The
Other Australia”) have developed a kiwi fruit with gold flesh, no hair
on the outside, and a sweeter taste. Other than those changes it’s the
exact same fruit. They’re doing this because, well, it’s easier than
discovering a new one.
The motivation for this mutant kiwi
is so they can tap into the Asian market, where foul-smelling durians
are so popular that some countries, like Singapore, ban them from buses,
subways, and hotels, yet mildly tart kiwis just don’t make the grade.
For starters, they might consider going back to the fruit’s original
name, which was Chinese gooseberry. There’s nothing like giving the
illusion that a product is local to help sales. They changed the name a
number of years ago for marketing purposes, figuring that since they
grow them in New Zealand and they kind of look like the fluffy kiwi
bird, it would sell better. It worked. Now that they’ve developed the
new bald variety they’re going to have to change its name from Zespri
Gold to Bruce Willis Fruit.
The book claims that different colors in foods have
different properties, blue being good for the brain, orange good for the
heart, and green good for the author’s bank account, especially if
enough people fall for this.
The effect of food color on humans has been the subject of many
scientific studies. And some unscientific ones too. One night a long
time ago, on a lark, I put food coloring in everything in the
refrigerator. I made pink mayonnaise, blue milk, and bright green 7-Up.
Being ahead of my time, I even made purple ketchup. Okay, it was more a
muddy brown, but it had definite undertones of purple. Needless to say,
the next morning my roommates were none too thrilled about pouring blue
milk into their coffee, slathering orange cream cheese on their bagel,
and putting neon green mustard on the brown ham sandwich they were
making for lunch. Being a trendsetter is never easy.
If companies continue to change the
color of food we’re going to see an interesting phenomenon: colliding
trends. Last year several books came out which advocate eating according
to a food’s color. What Color Is Your Diet? claims we should
choose our fruits and vegetables based on their color. The Color
Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health takes it one
step farther, saying we should only eat foods which match our dining
room. Just kidding. Actually it claims that different colors in foods
have different properties, blue being good for the brain, orange good
for the heart, and green good for the author’s bank account,
especially if enough people fall for this.
If companies start arbitrarily
changing the color of food we won’t know what to eat, especially if we
start wrapping it in the new food wrap the USDA has developed. They’ve
figured out a way to turn apples, oranges, and carrots into thin sheets
which can keep food fresh in the refrigerator. This means one day you
may have to figure out when it’s best to eat brown Cocoa Crisper
chocolaty French fries covered in green ketchup topped with pink
M&M’s wrapped in red strawberry-flavored wrapping. I have no clue
when that time might be, but I sure hope there’s enough for seconds.
©2002 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while munching on some multi-colored food.