Healthy Junk Food: Are You Seriously Buying This?

chef boyardeeRemember Chef Boyardee -- that ravioli in a can? I grew up on home-cooked meals and my mother didn't consider Chef Boyardee nutritious enough to buy. So imagine my surprise when I learned that not only is the Chef back, it's also trying to brand itself as "secretly nutritious." Oh yeah, apparently it's a great way to sneak in the whole grains and veggies.

Okay, first of all, I don't have to "sneak" vegetables into my family's meals. We just eat them regular like plenty of other people on this planet. Secondly, those vegetables still come in a highly processed package. But go for it, Chef Boyardee. You reinvent yourself in our increasingly slow-food world. You're certainly not alone.

Wait till you see what Pop Tarts are up to in Times Square ...


Pop Tarts World is a new pop-up cafe where you can watch a light show, customize your own Pop Tarts, or eat Pop Tarts Sushi, three kinds of tarts chopped up and wrapped in a fruit roll-up. Buy the t-shirt before you leave! This sounds like a great place for a birthday party for parents who think Chuck E. Cheese is too quiet and wholesome.

Speaking of wholesome, remember when Lunchables came along and we all knew they were pretty much repackaged fake cheese with crackers? Now they've come out with new "wholesome" packs with whole-grain (sorta) rolls, turkey, 2 percent cheddar, applesauce, water, and Kool-Aid singles. But don't worry, they've kept all the freaky chemicals just for nostalgia. And did somebody say Kool-Aid?

Kool-Aid is selling itself as the healthier alternative to soda because it contains 1/3 as much sugar per 8 ounce serving. Wow, that's a pretty low bar to set, don't you think? I mean, why not make your slogan "Kool-Aid, better for you than crack"?

All of this reinvention of junk food from my childhood almost makes me long for the olden days when you could just admit that certain food was crap with a shrug. You know what kind of nostalgia food reinvention I like? The home-made kind, like the fresh "oreos" and "twinkies" my local pastry shop makes: all the fun of the original without the chemicals or health claims. More of this, please!

Image via Con Agra Foods

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