Today, Kraft Kitchens emailed me some “fresh ideas for spring,” illustrated with a large photo of a Vanilla-Almond Fruit Tart. On top of the pie-sized tart was a pile of strawberries. Yuck. Can’t stand strawberries, but the tart part looked pretty darned good. So did the Coconut-Fudge Bars (dislike coconut, too).
Every day, I can count on emails from Kraft, Pillsbury and assorted others because at one time I had signed up for emails and e-newsletters like these, which usually have great coupons. Lately, though, I’m wondering if that was such a great idea.
Here’s a selection of what’s landed in my inbox just in the past week:
· Pillsbury’s PIE Edition!
· Get a Large Cheese Pizza for 25 cents from Papa John’s! Order Now!
· Kraft Kitchens Food & Family: Desserts to Please Everyone
· Ooey, Gooey Weekends! (Pillsbury)
· 8 All-New Dinner Ideas! (Betty Crocker)
Pillsbury’s “PIE” email was a play on words for those who believe the geek shall inherit the earth. Sunday, March 14 was Pi Day – as in 3.14, the first three decimal digits of pi (look at in month/day format). March 14 was also Einstein’s birthday, and the two events are sometimes celebrated together by math enthusiasts.
Likely not with the suggested key lime or chocolate silk pies.
In the Betty Crocker email, just one of the meals looked healthy: Skillet Beef, Veggies and Brown Rice. Below it was a feature about the new Chocolate Cheerios, with a link to a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Bars. And oh yes, free, downloadable stencils for St. Patrick’s Day, sponsored by . . . wait for it . . . Lucky Charms.
I like to believe I have a pretty good handle on my own eating triggers, but there’s a new series of Krispy Kreme commercials that decimate my resolve. Each features a woman in different settings, sharing a large box of donuts with strangers.
I hadn’t even heard of the chain until I moved down here from Ohio a decade ago. Let me remind you where I live: North Carolina – ground zero for Krispy Kreme.
Today, a hot, glazed donut is a “problem” food for me. While it doesn’t quite outrank my movie-popcorn fixation, it’s a close second. The good news is, the only place to get the hot version is downtown, about a 15-minute drive. Not worth it. The bad news is, a drive-thru opened up about five miles from me last year, and I learned that if I put one of their glazed donuts in the microwave and nuke it for 10 seconds, it’s just as good as the hot kind.
There was a study a little over a year ago that explained why junk foods are irresistible. It’s that magic combination of fat, sugar and salt that act on the reward centers of the brain in the same way as tobacco.
I understand that. No way can you stop at just one Krispy Kreme glazed donut. It’s all, like, hot sugar and air. Former FDA head David Kessler stated, “The real problem is we have created a world where food is always available and where that food is designed to make you want to eat more of it. For millions of people, modern food is simply impossible to resist.” In his book, The End of Overeating, he says manufacturers have made certain foods “hyper-palatable” – engineered to stimulate feelings of pleasure.
I can personally vouch for the pleasure of eating a hot Krispy Kreme donut, but I’m not obsessing about the darn things. I long ago looked up their calorie/fat counts: 200 calories and 12 grams of fat for one original glazed. Yep. One.
Oh, and those glorified coffee shakes at McDonald’s? A whopping 450 calories and 20 grams of fat for a small mocha frappe.
Those are the kinds of numbers that keep me from hopping in the car, even though the commercials get to me a bit. It also helps that every time I stand up, my sore muscles remind me of my most recent trip to the gym. A single donut would undo at least 20 minutes on the elliptical. So. Not. Worth it.
I’ll likely keep the emails as they come. Every now and then I’ll try out a new recipe for the fam. There’s nothing good or bad about fat and calories, just too much of either, right?
I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second. ~ Steven Wright
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.