Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Broken Language

607 words

I love good food and when I start thinking about it, I’ll probably tell you all sorts of things about nice and fresh ingredients, careful preparation, fantastic smells, just the right texture and so on. But sometimes I just forget about all that and a good old bag of carbohydrates, fat and monosodiumglutamate with the right flavouring will make me perfectly happy (and then sick, if it was too big a bag, Germany is not the country of single-serving bags after all).

But then I start looking at the packaging and I stop enjoying the junk I am chewing. My idea about crisps isn’t too glamorous. My guess as to how crisps are made is about the following: You buy the cheapest potatoes you can get, you cut them to whatever shape is needed for your ‘product’, you get as much saturated fat as possible into them by quickly deep-frying and then you generously sprinkle your glutamates and fake tastes (funny frisch ungarisch rules the world) on top before packing them in a metal/plastic bag that’s probably not the most environmentally sound packaging.

There’s nothing to love about it, but hey, glutamates!

And then I see the packaging. And they present a completely different story:

back side of a crisps bag

There I see lovingly cleaned and shiny potatoes coming from spacious fields in the sunshine. And not just that, the text suggests that they come from Vertragsanbau, contractual growing. Now WTF is that supposed to mean? Not even I would have thought that the crisps company were such crooks that they’d steal the potatoes at night. It seems pretty likely that any potato made and sold industrially is subject to some contract, doesn’t it? So my second guess is that they are trying all the hip modern labels like the eco-warriors’ ‘biologischer Anbau’ and look better through that.

The next image claims that the fine potato sticks are ‘baked’ in 100% pure plant oil. First there’s the word baking, one of my favourite kitchen activities. And trust me, it’s mainly about heating your cake, you don’t need any extra fat for it, except for greasing the tin. It rather seems that – over the past years – industrial food producers decided that ‘deep-fried’ sounds too unhealthy and greasy and they simply started calling deep-fried food ‘baked’. Perhaps there’s some EU regulation supporting that… But I consider it a lie. And next: the vegetable oil. What other oil would they have used? The good stuff from the golf? Bonus question: Will the oil for making my crisps be poured from pretty little glass bottles? I hope not, that’d be a waste.

Finally there’s the ‘unique flavouring-recipe’. Well that may actually be true. I never had the lovely ‘ungarisch’ flavour with any other crisps. But still it seems unlikely that they have staff standing there with a mortar, crushing those herbs as the image suggests. More truth, please. And I miss the glutamate in the description. We all know it’s the true secret to good crisps flavour.

You see, I’m totally in favour of free speech. But then again, I’m only in favour or people not lying or mispresenting things. Which seems a bit too restrictive for free speech. And the marketing-morons are just big masters of lies euphemisms which invariably make me think that they should be shot shut up. Is it asking too much that they don’t treat me like an idiot? If their factories are so ugly that they can’t present them truthfully on the package, fine, I don’t care. Then just make it single colour and put a name on it. And a bar code, if you must.

November 23, 2007, 0:06


Comment by Ingo: User icon

Well, two things.

First: Yes, there are people who believe in the pictures on the bag. Actually quite many, you would be surprised. I have a friend who was working in marketing who was quite as surprised as me.

Second: You need special potatoes for this kind of thing if you want to make it right. So the companies will have an eye on the farmers to get exactly the potatoes they need. And the farmers have to sign contracts on this. So, actually, “Vertragsanbau” means that the company really cares for the quality of the product.

November 23, 2007, 8:19

Comment by arumdev: User icon

mmmmmmm, Kettle Chips!

November 23, 2007, 13:55

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