Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too Good to be True

A few years ago, I discovered a fascinating new food product on the shelves of my local Trader Joe's  called, "Banana Crisps."  I picked up the bag and examined the golden crisps inside.  You could see they were slightly shiny and enticingly sprinkled with crystals of salt.  I marveled at how light and delicate the crisps felt.  I turned the bag in my hand to examine the nutritional content, assuming that the crisps would be sinfully fatty and caloric.  And I saw...could it be?...only 40 calories and a mere 1 gram of fat per 2/3 cup serving!  I stood in the aisle in stunned wonder.  Was I holding the treasure that I had spent a lifetime hunting with the passion of Ponce de Leon?  Healthy junk food, it exists!  With a few darting glances around me, I swiftly stuffed the entire inventory of banana crisps into my basket, paid, and left the store

I was not more than two feet from the automatic doors of Trader Joe's when I popped open a bag of banana crisps and crammed a handful in my mouth.  Oooooh.  At the first crunch, the crisps were delicately light, like classic Lays potato chips.  Once crunched, the crisps then dissolved in your mouth like cotton candy.  The taste was only mildly banana, with a satisfying saltiness and just a touch of sweetness.  I thought about the conventional banana chips -- those thick disks of deep fried banana you find in crappy trail mix and are harder to chew than pennies -- and I crammed another handful of banana crisps in my mouth.  This was miracle food for less than $3 a bag.  I walked away from Trader Joe's feeling like I had robbed the place.

From that point on, I ate two bags of banana crisps per day.  I ate them for breakfast, I ate them for lunch, I ate them sitting in front of the television.  I put them in yogurt, on ice cream, and -- I kid you not -- inside peanut butter sandwiches.  Not one to be too selfish, I evangelized them to all my friends and handed them out to my co-workers.  "Only 40 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving!" I'd sing each time I held out the bag for someone to grab a handful of crisps.  When anyone asked me how something so fried and yummy could be healthy, I'd say "They're from Trader Joe's!" as if that could possibly explain anything about sugar and fat.

The hammer eventually fell, of course, on my bubble of delight.  One day, Trader Joe's suddenly stopped stocking the banana crisps, despite its popularity.  It was not until several weeks later that Trader Joe's restocked the banana crisps.  A little sign was tacked nearby the new stash, informing me, the dear consumer, that Trader Joe's had revised the nutritional label to correct misinformation.  Misinformation?  I took a bag from the shelf, turned it over, and looked at the new label.  The calories were now revealed to be FOUR TIMES the original calories and SIX TIMES the original grams of fat.  I slumped against the wall of the chips aisle, and  I thought back on my eating habits.  According to my quick calculations, I had been ingesting, from banana crisps alone, close to 2000 calories and 72 grams of fat every day for three months.  I looked down at my flabby stomach and pinched my flabby thighs.  "So, I guess I'm not just retaining water."


  1. This reminds me of a similar story. I was at the UCLA student store when I saw this HUGE oatmeal cookie. The label had suggested that it was a healthy alternative to regular cookies. I quickly glanced at the nutritional label and saw that it was 150 calories per serving. I must have eaten several of these cookies before I took a closer look at the label. There were 3 servings per cookie! WTF! I always thought 1 cookie = 1 serving. AND how do you take a round cookie and cut it in thirds?!?!? LUDICROUS!

  2. Michelle, that is priceless.

  3. Did you ever see the fro-yo episode of Seinfeld? Same premise, painfully true in reality!

  4. Rachel, I had totally forgotten about that Seinfeld episode! Funny how truth and fiction can blur.


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