They grow culture in a petri dish.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What's the Word?

Recently, I've been eating a lot of lunches courtesy of the Gator Dining store at Little Hall. Along with my yummy Mediterranean wraps, I've been buying the baked Lays potato chips or corn chips. A few days ago, I was perusing the bag of said chips and made an odd discovery: at the bottom of the bag, the manufacturer assures the consumer that these chips are "naturally baked." This particular wording gives me pause (and I'm a person who had to think through the whole "Real Cheese" Wording Debacle of yore). What, pray tell, does "naturally" baked mean, and what is the alternative that (I assume) other manufacturers are employing?

Let's think about this for a minute: when something is "baked" by nature, it is usually left in some sunny place for some amount of time, yes? I'm thinking here of cars in parking lots, lizards on hot rocks, and me when I go to the beach. But how does a potato (natural) or a corn chip (unnatural?) get baked naturally? I mean, if you just left a potato out in the sun for a long time, you'd have a naturally...baked potato. But, the "chip"-ing process by which we get said crisps seems pretty artificial already. To naturally get chips, you'd have to have something like potatoes rent by jagged tree limbs that had been struck by lightening. Then left in the hot, hot sun. Of course, this progression of events seems not only improbable but wildly inefficient given America's current chip demand. What's more, the potato chips shown on these bags seem pretty darn artificial. I'm guessing they come from potato batter cut to look like sloppy squares (don't ask me why).

Switching gears, when I think about the term "artificially baked," I'm not reassurred, either. What are other companies cooking with? Plutonium? It...the idea just makes me queasy.

In the end, I'm not sure what to think. One wouldn't want to ask for the whole truth from the Lay's people; it might read something like "genetically-modified, MSG laden, and artificially-processed protato product baked safely." Instead, I think I'm more partial to the no-nonsense version: "Baked. For a less fat tomorrow."