Unhealthy Foods Remade: Who's Buying This Hype?

A new study is looking at rebuffing hot dogs into a low-fat alternative form. Naturally, this left me pondering: Why are food scientists continually working to build leaner, meaner and “healthier” versions of processed foods?   

A recent video published by the American Chemical Society unveiled how researchers are trying to create a healthier hot dog. Naturally, this left me pondering: Why are food scientists continually working to build leaner, meaner and “healthier” versions of processed foods?

While I am not a fan of the favorite summer and grill food, hot dogs are enjoyed year round by many U.S. consumers. Although an American staple, however, the frank is loaded with high fat content.

Not to worry, a new study titled “Raman Spectroscopic Study of Structural Changes Upon Chilling Storage of Frankfurters Containing Olive Oil Bulking Agents as Fat Replacers” looks at rebuffing the hot dogs in a low-fat alternative form.

The scientists are working to better the wiener by toying with the “right amount of chewiness and springiness.” And since traditional hot dogs come with a large dose of pork back-fat, building a healthier frankfurter has lead the team to develop olive oil bulking agents to replace the saturated fat.

While the amount of effort and time that goes into these sort of projects is probably quite consuming, I can’t think of a single reason why consumers would want to buy this. Truly, how many people are eating a hot dog for the health benefits?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, those who are eating burgers and French fries are eating them for the taste. If they wanted something healthy, why not just switch to a nutritional meal, such as a salmon dinner with broccoli as a side?

In a recent article, Charles Spence, an Oxford University neuroscientist who specializes in how the brain perceives taste, said “People expect something to taste worse if they believe it is healthy. That expectation affects how it tastes to them, so it actually does taste worse.”

And since “junk food” eaters are more than likely consuming these less-than-nutritious foods for the satisfying taste, I have to wonder if the recreation of some of the most favorited foods in America — burgers, hot dogs, French fries and ice cream — in a healthier form is truly going to be a big hit throughout the food industry.

Our society may be addicted to fast-food, but we are also obsessed with finding new and exciting ways to tweak our favorite unhealthy foods. A quick google search of “healthy versions of unhealthy foods” yields more than one million results, all informing me how to satisfy my junk food cravings by incorporating “healthier” (that word is debatable) ingredients.

I believe that if you are going to have a double fudge brownie, you should enjoy that brownie in its traditional form. In other words, if you are going to make the decision to eat junk food, than do so! There is no use in eating a recreated, “healthier” version of it. Similarly, if you are choosing to eat nutritiously, than do so with real, whole foods — not an alternative form of a processed frankfurt.

A quote from one of my favorite books, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, puts it best:

“Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear and confusion in disguise. It’s the devil’s dilemma. It’s neither doing nor not doing. It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die. Moderation…is lukewarm tea.”