The Old Coot knows his cookies (a rerun from 2008)

The Old Coot knows his cookies (a rerun from 2008)

The food industry is out of touch. They don’t understand the eating habits of their customers. Take Oreos for instance. The back of the package has a carefully researched list of nutrition facts: Total Fat 8g, Sodium 110 mg, Sugars 11g, etc. You can be sure it took a bunch of pretty smart scientists to compile the data. 

I can’t begin to comprehend the number of tests and calculations it took to come up with the information. Yet, when it comes to the easy part, the standard portion size, this astute collection of food scientists and chemists at Nabisco can’t get it right. They don’t even come close. It’s obvious they’ve never sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of milk and a package of Oreos. 

They claim, with a straight face, that the standard portion size is three cookies. No human has ever been able to limit his or her intake to three Oreos. Forcing a prisoner of war to stop at three Oreos is considered torture under the rules of the Geneva Convention. It makes water boarding seem like a day at the beach.

Nabisco isn’t the only company that gets it wrong. All the makers of cookies, ice cream, candy, and the foods we love don’t have a clue about the eating habits of their loyal customers. 

The only ones who come close are the companies that sell canned vegetables. They put an average portion at one-half cup. That works for corn, peas and beets, but is way too high for things like lima beans, asparagus and spinach. 

I limit my intake of that “unholy trinity” to a teaspoonful or less. I’ve done so since I was four years old and had to empty my plate before leaving the table no matter what my taste buds said. Of course, my mother had other ideas. If I complained about the vegetable she was dishing out she gave me a double helping. As a result, I developed into a sneak. I could make a pile of lima beans vanish from my plate and reappear in my socks. 

It was easy to pull off because my mother never sat down at the dinner table with us. She was in constant motion: stirring, basting and shuttling back and forth between the stove and the table. It was only on Thanksgiving that she sat down with the rest of the family. Even then, she never looked comfortable. You could tell she wanted to be in her combination, maitre d’ – chef role, making sure her charges were well served. A lot of mothers were like that, still are.

I did the research that Nabisco and the other food processors should have done. I came up with the proper portion size for their products. I started with Oreo Cookies. I determined that the correct portion size is a row of cookies. At three cookies (the portion stated on the back of the bag) I hadn’t even warmed up. At seven, I was getting close but couldn’t stop myself until I finished the row. I was tempted to have one more cookie, but I knew if I did, another full row would be in jeopardy. 

The next product I worked on was ice cream. The package put the correct portion size at four ounces (one-half cup). It’s not! I filled a bowl with butter pecan. I don’t know how many ounces it was, but it looked about right, heaped up an inch higher than the bowl. When it was gone, I wasn’t quite satisfied. I replenished the bowl with three more scoops. That didn’t do it either. I was drawn back to the fridge for a smidgen (another full scoop plus a dab more). 

That did it. I don’t know how many ounces it added up to. I’d recommend they don’t use ounces on the package, that they state it in terms we can understand – one bowlful + one-half bowl + a smidgen. It’s not that hard to figure out; the manufacturers need to use real people to do the research, not computer models.

I’m available.

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