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Blueroses's avatar

Why are so many commercially produced foods sweet when they shouldn't be?

Asked by Blueroses (18248points) August 2nd, 2011
42 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

I tried to take a shortcut and grab some deli salads for a picnic the other day. I got samples before buying, and they were all nasty.

The macaroni salad, the potato salad, the coleslaw, heck, even the tuna and chicken salads were revoltingly sugary.

Same thing with jarred spaghetti sauce. What’s with all the sweetness? What’s wrong with savory foods?

Who decided this is what we want? Does anyone actually like it that way?

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Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Conspiracy. They want us fat, dumb, and lazy so we won’t figure out that they’re screwing us.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Corn syrup is cheap and makes you want more.

Judi's avatar

The American diet ain’t what it used to be. I tried to find an article I had read about how it has changed but couldn’t. Genetically engineered foods, portion sizes, and farm subsidies, have combined to transform our diet to a higher calorie lower nutrient diet.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blueroses If you haven’t already watch Food, inc or King Corn I highly recommend them both. Due in part to both movies plus books I’ve read, I only purchase organic when possible. We eat local as much as possible, also.

Blueroses's avatar

@SpatzieLover I have seen those and I try to make everything homemade so I hadn’t really noticed the overabundance of sweet foods until it became apparent when tasting so many in a row. It made me wonder if people really like sweet flavors or if we are being trained to like them. It’s just disgusting.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blueroses Yes, the food companies are training your brain to become addicted to the chemical responses your brain has to such additives.

snowberry's avatar

I make a point of reading the food labels on just about everything I buy. Because sugar is of special concern to me, I look for that information first.

With spaghetti sauce, try buying the one with the least amount of sugar, and then add chopped or crushed tomatoes to the can. You can also beef it up with herbs and spices. In the states I have found a few off brands with only 2 grams of sugar. Hunts (a national brand) has 4 grams of sugar in the Traditional flavor.

This trick won’t work with everything, but it will work with some foods.

ragingloli's avatar

It’s cheaper than actual spices. Instead of proper flavour, they pump it full of sugar, salt or natriumglutamat.

Blueroses's avatar

Interesting point @ragingloli. I hadn’t thought that sweetening can mask the use of inferior ingredients.

Jeruba's avatar

According to this book, loading foods up with sugar not only activates our pleasure center, causing us to crave them, but also increases the number of cells that issue “feed me” messages, which keep us coming back for more.

I might add from my experience that if you have been off sugar or on a low-sugar diet, you can really taste the sugar in foods, even natural sugar in foods like carrots. But if you’ve become accustomed to a lot of sugar, you may not even notice the excess sweetness.

Judi's avatar

@SpatzieLover ; Started watching Food Inc. Since I have amazon prime I got it for free. To depressing to finish right now. I’m glad I planted a garden this year.

Aethelflaed's avatar

For some foods, I would think that part of it is to get kids to eat it. If you’re a parent, and you don’t let them each cookies all day, a really sweet coleslaw or spaghetti sauce might seem like just the way to sneak some nutrients into the kid’s diet.

I can’t stand a lot of sweet foods that aren’t chocolate. Fruit pies, teriyaki, miso, barbecue… blech.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Food processors try to compete with other brands by including unnecessary and excessive sugars (including such things as high fructose corn syrup), salt and mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) because we have learned to prefer foods with these additives.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sweet foods are easily addictive even if you don’t like sweets to begin with so the food processors figure you will buy more and more of whatever that is.

My mother was saying recently she’s noticed recipes for old stand by foods have increased sugar called for than her older cookbooks from the 60’s and early 70’s.

snowberry's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Yep, Old world spaghetti sauce recipes don’t call for much sugar. But nowdays it’s hard to find a recipe without it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Then I’m guessing it’s really good that I had my mom give me her older Joy of Cooking instead of buying a newer version.

snowberry's avatar

@Aethelflaed I just look online for recipes. I’m guessing my older-than-dirt Joy of Cooking would have sugar free spaghetti sauce recipes.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@snowberry You know, I’ve tried that, but it can be pretty tough to tell the difference between the recipes that are “tried and true”, and the recipes that someone made up, but doesn’t actually taste that good (or could be seriously improved upon). I found one quiche recipe that’s delicious, but makes about one and a half times the amount that will fit in a standard pie pan. So my faith is a bit shaken.

josie's avatar

It is a known fact in the food world world that people tend to like the taste sensation of sweet, salt and/or fat.
That is why pizza and McDonalds is so popular.
It is also why so many Americans are so fat.
Knowing your market, pure and simple.

tom_g's avatar

Because it’s complete shit – and so is the typical American palate. Even things that are supposed to be sweet are way too sweet. What is considered chocolate by the unwashed masses is really just a brick of waxy sugar. I have forced people to try a nice piece of Valrhona 72%, which is plenty sweet for me, and they end up spitting it out. Same goes for flavored yogurt and oatmeal.

tom_g's avatar

@Blueroses: “What’s wrong with savory foods?”

Somehow “savory” = over-salted. There are sweet foods and salty foods. If there was actual food in these foods, there might be a focus on flavor.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@tom_g I’m not sure you’re going to convert many people who love milk chocolate but don’t like the waxy taste with dark chocolate. I don’t like dark chocolate; I don’t care for bitter in almost any capacity. I do, however, love a nice, gourmet, non-shit milk chocolate. The difference isn’t the cocoa content, but the lack of actual wax in the product. Give me Cadburys (real, not American bullshit manufactured by Hershey’s or Nestle) any day, or even better, Godiva.

tom_g's avatar

@Aethelflaed – I can appreciate that some people like a good milk chocolate. To be honest, I don’t know much about that world. To me, however, I think a good milk chocolate could be a gateway drug to the real deal. Many people I know drank their coffee with cream and sugar when they were young. It didn’t matter that their coffee was garbage – they were really consuming the sugar and cream. I think the same thing goes for the typical US milk chocolate. Sure there is a hint of coffee (really bad, stale coffee), but that’s not the point. Nobody would drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee black or with a splash of cream. It’s undrinkable. Finding a good dark chocolate is the same thing. Some people try Lindt or Godiva’s “dark chocolate” offerings and have decided that tasting chocolate isn’t for them. I submit to you that there is a world of amazing, complex flavors out there in some of the “gourmet” chocolates that are tremendously satisfying.

Blueroses's avatar

I’ve never had a sweet-tooth so I’m pretty sensitive to sweet tastes. I don’t care for it unless it’s a natural part of the food, like in fruit or beets or corn on the cob.

That deli macaroni salad was the most horrible thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Rubbery noodles and limp celery drowning in a mayo/sugar pudding textured sauce with a really disgusting vinegar preservative aftertaste. I wouldn’t slop the hogs with the stuff and yet it sells literally by the bucket. I don’t understand why people don’t host a revolution and demand real food in their food.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@tom_g I quite enjoy trying new chocolates, and I’ll try dark chocolate. But, I’ve tried over half the varieties at Whole Foods, and a few local chocolatiers, and not found one I liked. But, my point is this: If you’re trying to get people to realize what piss the chocolate sold in grocery store candy aisles is, let them try a milk chocolate of better quality – something like what they already like, just refined. If you’re trying to say that the sweetness is icky, then go for the dark, but I’m not sure it’s going to convince them. The wax and other additives is the real problem with American candy tasting like piss, not the low cocoa content.

@Blueroses Because they don’t know any better? Because it’s cheap and easy, and good food is more expensive for less? Because they have fewer taste buds, and it just doesn’t gross them out the way it does you?

tom_g's avatar

@Aethelflaed: ” The wax and other additives is the real problem with American candy tasting like piss, not the low cocoa content.”

You’re right. When I put a piece of Hershey’s in my mouth, however, the amount of sugar (or something) makes my mouth pucker and hurt. It is not a pleasant feeling. This must take some getting used to. But, you’re right – the waxiness is troubling. Is it a crayon or food?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@tom_g Is it a crayon or a food? LOL I know! I found Kshocolât had possibly the best ever, but disappeared from stores right after I found it. Try some Tranquility (other flavors available, that’s just my favorite), see if you like it. Should be available at Whole Foods.

john65pennington's avatar

I know what you mean. Humans love sugar and sugar it is that goes into much of the commerical food today.

What about garlic? Garlic ruins the taste of so many foods. I had a store-bought hot dog and you could not taste anything, because of the garlic. I threw it away. I read the labels now and if garlic is included, I look for something else.

Good question.

snowberry's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’m reminded of the time when a nursery worker panicked about little red, blue, green and yellow things in my twins’ diapers.. She couldn’t get over it, so I finally told her I had already contacted the Crayola company and suggested they start putting vitamins in their crayons (they had eaten crayons).

DominicX's avatar

I can’t help but think that this is somehow related to the fact that the United States is the fattest country in the world and that 33% of Americans are obese…how come a country like South Korea only has a 2% obesity rate? What makes them so different? Arrgh…

On a side note, I once bought a jar of salsa that was hideous sugary (who the hell wants sugar in their spicy salsa?) I was beginning to think that mainstream food had really gone down the toilet, but then I noticed that it actually said “Sweet Salsa” underneath the name. Now I read food subtitles a little closer :) But, man that was gross…

@tom_g Dark chocolate sucks ass :) And no, I’m not a frosting-licking cheap-chocolate-buying McDonalds-visiting stereotypical-American fatass either. I’ve tried expensive good dark chocolate, but it’s just awful to me. Overly sweet isn’t good, but neither is bitter.

snowberry's avatar

@DominicX In addition, any salsa with fruit in it is going to be sweet, such as Peach Salsa. So to be sure, read the ingredients as well.

DominicX's avatar

@snowberry

I actually like peach salsa! But this I wasn’t expecting to be sweet… :P

Aethelflaed's avatar

@DominicX A lot of jarred salsas are really sweet. It’s gross – if there’s sugar in the tomatoes or corn or whatever, then that’s awesome, but don’t be adding that stuff. I’ve bought many a jar of salsa only to take one bite and donate to the office communal snack food cause.

tom_g's avatar

@DominicX – I’m assuming you are not fan of fine coffee, wine, or beer? In my experience, people with a taste for fine chocolate are also interested in the complex flavors present in the beverages above.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@snowberry I’ve had fruit salsas, and I like many of them. I think, for me, the line is when there’s so much sugar added that you can no longer taste the delicate flavors of fruit and vegetable intermingling. It ends up tasting like a texturized Kool-Aid.

DominicX's avatar

@tom_g

Nope, can’t say I am. I don’t care for many non-water beverages…

atomicmonkey's avatar

Every time I go to the US, I’m blown away by how sugary EVERYTHING is. I guess you guys are just used to it? It is strange to my Australian taste buds, all that corn syrup.

I didn’t believe that candied yams actually existed for years. It seemed crazy to me. Potato and marshmallow? And people eat this? ...people who aren’t children or pregnant?!!

I’m guessing that culturally, there’s a tradition of mixing sweet and savoury, and your food manufacturers have jumped on that.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DominicX Corn syrup isn’t as readily available, as cheap, or allowed in many other countries

Aethelflaed's avatar

@atomicmonkey It’s a cultural thing, but not all US cultures. It seems to be more Southern in origin. I’ve never actually had candied yams or that marshmellow/jello/fruit salad thingy.

atomicmonkey's avatar

@Aethelflaed there’s a marshmallow/jello/fruit salad thingy?!!

Blueroses's avatar

@atomicmonkey Ambrosia Salad Read it and weep. It looks like sugar frosted vomit and it’s a staple at pot luck/church suppers. This recipe leaves out the artificial whipped topping that is usually added.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@atomicmonkey And despite the name, it does the exact opposite of giving one immortality.

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