9 years ago: Cheetohs of mass destruction

From this blog, Jan. 21, 2004: Cheetohs of mass destruction

The Cheetoh-factor, in which every additional adjective makes the noun in question less true:

• “Cheese” = cheese

• “processed cheese” = cheese, sort of

• “processed cheese food” = cheese, sort of, plus other stuff that’s not cheese

• “processed cheese food snack product” = the food in question is orange, but contains no actual cheese.

"No. And I'm okay with that."

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  • AnonymousSam

    Don’t forget the magic word combo “juice cocktail,” which I am convinced means 5% of one juice and 5% of a blend of others.

  • Lutefisk is plenty Swedish. My great-grandmother used to bury it out back, and my grandmother used to keep it in the tub (before I was born). And all the many first and second-generation Swedish-Americans I grew up with made in-jokes about it. 

    I’ve never tried lutefisk because none of the second-and-third generation Swedish-Americans who were my parents’ generation could stomach the stuff, or felt like bothering to make it. They’re more into pickled herring, which I find really gross.

  • vsm

    I don’t get all the lutefisk hype, really. Granted, the cooking process is interesting, especially if you want to be old school about it, and the texture is not unlike that of brittle rubber, but the taste itself is fairly mild. Without all the rituals required to eat it and the admittedly delicious sauce, I doubt many people would bother with it.

  • MaryKaye

    “No added sugar” means I won’t even pick it up from the shelf to look, because it is so often aspartame, and aspartame makes me violently ill.  It is quite difficult to read the fine print labels–last time I got sick, the label was additionally in Portuguese and printed in silver on yellow.  Nowadays when traveling I stick to water and unsweetened tea. 

  • redsixwing

    Oh little fishies, I love pickled herring. (In sour cream, for preference, though the wine kind is good too.) Actually getting to eat some is a rare treat, as most people I know dislike it and can’t stand the smell.

    I’ve never gotten up the guts to try lutefisk, though.

      I particularly like the coastal area’s
    sweet rye bread made with syrup and spices in the dough…

    That sounds delightful!

  •  Yeah. Did anyone else make it to adulthood without having any idea that tylenol was at all dangerous, and totally freak out when when they went to wikipedia to find out what the deal was in the final episode of ‘One Foot in the Grave’?

    I’m sure there are times in my life when I’ve exceeded twice the safe dose of the stuff.

  •  You also cure olives in lye. And there are various kinds of bread products that get a lye bath at some point in the process.

    It does strike me as weird that we end up with foods that clearly had a long trial-and-error refinement process, where some of the intermediate steps could kill you. Like puffer fish. It probably took like a hundred tries to figure out which bits you could eat. Why wouldn’t any reasonable culture give up trying after the third?

  • Neotoma

    Almost as desperate as you’d need to be to figure out that Greenland shark is edible if it’s allowed to ferment for three months?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah, I have to be careful with those. I’m allergic to aspartame. It usually only means no diet drinks, but I’m paranoid.  

  • P J Evans

     Pretzels and some varieties of bagel get a bath in food-grade lye (or something safer, like water with baking soda). It’s what makes that lovely shiny crust.

    I’ve always suspected that someone accidentally confused the boiling water with the boiling lye that was about to be used for making soap. And then discovered that the resulting bread was even better.

  • Jenny Islander

    Worse.  Juice cocktail is mostly water with either sugar or corn syrup, with some concentrated juice stirred in.  If it’s labeled “No Sugar Added,” it’s got white grape juice concentrate, or some other intensely sweet juice concentrate, instead of corn syrup or sugar–unless it’s artificially sweetened of course.  You have to look for “100 Percent  Juice” to get the kind that’s sweetened with ultra-concentrated white grape juice or some other intensely sweet juice.

  • … and to think I religiously took Tylenol for headaches because I was scared shitless as a teenager after I read of Reye’s Syndrome…


  • I always see these uber-cheap frozen-concentrate “Orange” juices, and then I look closer at the containers, and they’re some kind of bizarre combination of what is surely mostly orange extract, but mixed in with a cocktail of other juice flavors with no rhyme nor reason.

    How it can be cheaper to make these things than straight-up frozen OJ is beyond me.

  • P J Evans

     I’m stuck with it because I can’t mix NSAIDS with antidepressant. Fortunately I don’t need it too often.

  • I learned Tylenol was dangerous early because I loved the taste of children’s Tylenol, so my caretakers were constantly reminding me that it could be dangerous. I still take Tylenol very often because it works, but I don’t exceed the dosage. And at this point, worrying about Tylenol when I’m taking heavy prescription painkillers seems kind of silly.

  • Tylenol never worked for me.

    What I find ridiculous is the occasional attempts to get Vicodin off the market – because it’s mixed with Tylenol. Or at least that’s the stated reason.

  • Münchner Kindl

     How is this not against the law?

    Would be illegal here.

  • Münchner Kindl

     But then you don’t call it 100%. You call it “Rye bread” or “full grain” (which makes it hard to digest, but healthier).

  • Münchner Kindl

     When reporters uncovered that ready-made (frozen) pizza has “artifical cheese substitute” instead of real cheese* and that current laws did not demand proper labelling for that, there was an uproar in the public.

    * They already save a lot of money by using Gouda or Emmentaler or any cheaper cheese instead of mozzarella, for which you have to pay extra.

  • Münchner Kindl


    Now in the US at least “No sugar added”  also precludes adding things
    like fruit juice concentrate as a sweetener, but I think something that
    says “no refined sugar, no HFCS” can still be sweetened with
    concentrated fruit juice, which typically has more fructose than either
    table sugar or HFCS if you’re concerned about such things.

    US labeling laws are that precise regarding sugar? Here, “sugar” refers to precisly one of several compounds* of the sugar family: kitchen sugar. If you add glucosesirup or fruit sugar, you can still label “no sugar”.

    * I’ve forgotten the exact details from my intro chem class, but there’s a five-carbon ring and a six-carbon ring which combine to form several sugars that are known under altogether a dozen different names. For your body and teeth, it’s all sugar.

    I started by switching from soda to fruit juice and was discouraged to
    realize that fruit juice may be sugar water with a few vitamins and
    antioxidants… but, sadly, it’s still  sugar water.

    Try the “schorle” variant: half of pure fruit juice, half of carbonated / tap water. If you have real mineral water (true labelling, not bottled tap water), the ratio of 2/5 apple juice and 3/5 mineral water is a cheap but good isotonic substitute.

    I always buy pure fruit juice and dilute, because why should I pay for tap water?

  • Münchner Kindl


    Stone Meadow Farm stuff is significantly more expensive than, say, Velveeta. Or even grocery-brand cheese.

    The first question is quantity vs. quality: do you want a half-pound bloc of cheap cheese that tastes like artifical, or half that amount of real cheese where you have full taste for each bite?

    I admit that it takes time though to develop your taste buds if you have been eating the cheap artifical stuff for years.

    Second, if you do have access to an organic supermarket, they will have different things on sale each week.

    Lack of access to organic supermarkets is tough, though.

    “Juice drinks” are also cheaper than “100% juice”. And so on.

    Depends: if you buy 100% juice and dilute it yourself (because of the fruit sugar already there) you probably get the same price or cheaper.

  • The_L1985

    Yep!  The rest is usually sugar water.  “Juice blend,” on the other hand, may or may not be entirely juices, depending on whether it also says “100%.”

  • vsm

    Indeed. The European Union may be an undemocratic and dysfunctional plot to force neoliberalism on unwilling nations, but they sure take food labeling seriously.

  • PurpleAardvaark

     About 32 years ago, I had to pass through a dot on the map named Valley City, Illinois, every day on my way to work. In Valley City there were 2 bars, a few ramshackle houses, and a large 3 story brick building which was the home of Tate Cheese.  According to local legend, Mr. Tate had developed the process which made Velveeta and sold it to Kraft with a non-compete clause. On the day that the non-compete clause expired, he opened up as a competitor.  I have always thought of Tate Cheese as one step below Velveeta despite the attractive pictures on the side of their trucks.  I even saw some in the dairy case of an IGA in Pennsylvania several years after I migrated eastward.

  • Thanks for the reply, learn something new every day.
    Is Tate Cheese still around?

  • Somewhat indirect, but per the Wikipedia article on Griggsville Landing, Illinois, Tate Cheese closed in the late 1990s.  On the other hand, it’s not clear whether that means the entire company, or just that plant; it’s possible it may survive by branding cheese made by someone else, or elsewhere.

  • P J Evans

    The world’s largest mozzarella factory is in California. They turn several hundred thousand pounds of milk (cow, not buffalo) into cheese every day. It’s going to businesses, not directly to markets.

    (Mozzarella di bufala is a real treat on pizza, if you can get it. It’s better than cow’s-milk mozzarella.)

  • MaryKaye

    Dear gods, how do you milk a buffalo?

    There is a scene in _Buffalo for the Broken Heart_ where the narrator has bought his first dozen buffalo, and they are staring at him from inside the delivery truck and won’t move.  His hired hand helpfully says, “Don’t worry.  They may kill you, but they won’t eat you. They’re vegetarians.”

    (This is a really fine book about a guy who switched his ranch from cattle to buffalo.  The process was rocky but the story ends well.)

  • Münchner Kindl

    Buffalo does not automatically mean “male animal” – they come in male and female type, because Buffalo is a species. (Just as cow can be group name).

    And since Mozzarella is an Italian cheese, they used not American bison buffalo, but water buffalo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_buffalo