Remember that advertisement for a popular chips brand that said you couldn't eat just one? Well they weren't kidding and the claim might just be backed up a scientific study that knew how much salt and sugar each of those chips needed so that you'd eat one and five minutes later find yourself holding an empty pack.
A long, exhaustive and brilliant account of the packaged food and soft drink industry in the New York Times, titled 'The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food' indicates how fast food companies have worked long and hard to know just how to put in a pack, how much salt to put in it to make it addictive and how much sugar was needed to get you back for more.
The paper's correspondent Michael Moss, who during the course of four years met over 300 persons associated with the food processing industry and studied how they're battling allegations of contributing to obesity among children and adults in the US, reveals nuggets about the industry that while priceless are also disturbing if you're holding a fried snack in your hand as you eat it.
A hush-hush meeting in 1999 between top executives of food companies when the allegations had begun to grow that processed foods were contributing to obesity and their denial of any culpability is particularly chilling once you realise that the food is kept addictive through scientific studies that understand your taste perhaps better than you do.
Interviews with "food-industry legend" Howard Moskowitz, who mathematically maps tastes, how 'Lunchables' became a legend that it is in America, why chips come in small packets, why a Cheetos is the way it is and how Frito-Lay realised that people who started eating their snacks earlier in life didn't slow down are particularly interesting.
As one of the persons interviewed in the piece says, while speaking about the Baby Boomer generation of American adults introduced to packed snacks earlier stuck to them later in life said:
They were skipping breakfast when they had early-morning meetings. They skipped lunch when they then needed to catch up on work because of those meetings. They skipped dinner when their kids stayed out late or grew up and moved out of the house. And when they skipped these meals, they replaced them with snacks.
The piece may not help you stop eating chips or staying away from the colas (you've already been hooked) but at least you can't say that you weren't warned.
Updated Date: Feb 23, 2013 17:35:32 IST