Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring: July 2012

This monthly ‘Winners And Losers’ feature will appear on the blog every third Thursday.  It’s a list of people, companies, products, and even countries who deserve a shout-out for either their good deeds or their naughty business when it comes to petroleum derived food additives (dyes, preservatives, and flavorings).  I list what piques my interest when I find it, so some of these may be old news.

Check out my W&L lists for May and June, which left me sort of hopeful.  I’m sorry to report that I found more losers than winners on this month’s list.  But I’m just one person getting one set of bizarro web hits, so if you’ve found some noteworthy news that would fit into this list, please do share it in a comment.


Hemi Weingarten – What, you don’t know Hemi?  Chances are, you’ve used his Fooducate app to check up on those potato chips they served you at your favorite sandwich shop.  Mr. Weingarten has armed people with insights into the ingredients they ingest, with convenience and user-friendly flair.  I found this good read about what prompted him to do it.  

Kroger – They invented a new verb when I was a kid, and a jingle to go with it – one that has stuck with me for 30 years.  I knew there was a reason I still like to “go Krogering.”  Aside from the fact that their key lime pie is dye-free (Publix’s is not), Kroger is now responding to consumer needs by expanding their organic range.  Read this story on why Kroger is betting on the continued growth of the organic market, even during tough times.


Wow, that was short.



Gatorade – With the Olympics about to start, our minds are on sports and hydration.  In my previous W&L for May, I added the Olympics to the Losers list because they were sponsored by McDonald’s and Coke – but not offering any other food and beverage alternatives to the crowds or the olympic athletes.  For the entire last month, I’ve had my Gilmore Girls marathons interrupted with what I call “Haterade” commercials…you know the one…glaring eyes on a sweaty face, targeting her prey…“She is easy to break”, her inner voice tells us.  The soccer predator easily gets past the obviously struggling goalie, then does an ape-like scream and guzzles down a large bottle of brightly dyed orange Gatorade.  (Some of the comments on this YouTube video of the Haterade commercial made me laugh.) 

This takes the soccer aggression stigma to a whole new level for someone like me, who is very sensitive to those bright dyes.  I mean, if that were me chugging the “G Series”, I wouldn’t stop at scoring a goal with just the standard soccer ball…and I’d probably be growling in that girl’s face like a rabid dog, and possibly breaking a few laws.  And my amped up kid would be right behind me, cheering “Rip her head off, Mommy!”  

Okay, perhaps we’d have a smidge more self-control than that.  But not much.  

Do yourself and your kids a favor and either buy some more natural hydration drinks (anyone tried Grombomb yet?), or google some recipes to make your own.  Coconut water or diluted homemade lemonade with added baking soda and salt are great alternatives.  Clear Pedialyte may look safe, but it tastes awful.  No reason to make a soccer monster even more angry.

V8 Splash – Just because it’s got vegetables all over its label, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  The makers of the one drink I avoided like the plague as a child have gotten hip to the fact that kids, and not so much the Bloody Mary drinking parents who financially back them, are the biggest market.  I admit there was a time, as a new parent, when I was fooled by the super awesome idea of sneaking veggies into sweet fruit juice.  It’s worth sharing this breakdown of the true ingredients inside this fake health swill, “decoded” by Food Renegade.

Coke – Damn it, Coke.  I gave you an honorable mention in a previous list for at least lowering your 4-MI “caramel coloring” levels. Now we hear that caramel coloring (ammonia caramel, as it’s aptly labeled in other countries) is present in very high levels in other countries?  Sneaky, sneaky.  I wonder what “Coca-Cola” translates to in Chinese NOW?  How about “unlucky tadpole water”?

Burger King – There are many reasons to avoid places like this fast food royalty, but the one I read about that gave me pause (this month) was the fact that BK is still using food coloring in their freestyle Coke machines in the United Kingdom.  God save the Queen.

What is UP with the drinks this month?!

Rainbow wrongs – I think rainbow cakes are a great way to surprise your kid for their birthday…when they’re dyed naturally with Chocolate Craft, Seelect, Maggie’s Naturals, and some India Tree dyes.  I’m a short attention span sucker for all things Pinterest.  And everyone knows they better hide their finger foods from me.  But I think we can now plot the high point (or low point?) of the rainbow dyed food craze.  Here’s hoping it quietly fades away after this dyed deviled eggs recipe.  If you must re-pin, I beg you, put it in a “Gross Things I Would Throw At An Ex-boyfriend’s Mustang” board.

Cat Coloring – Why does this keep coming up on the web?!  This dumb*$$ who dyed her tiny cat, and then took the time to video a tutorial, shall get her comeuppance…I just know it.  That cat will either wise up after being ridiculed by the other Snowballs and Dutchesses, or will lose his dyed mind, violently scratching that lady’s eyes out, before running off into the sunset towards the dumpster behind an awesome locavore restaurant.  To eat.  Not to be eaten.  His blue-green fur would totally put me off a farm burger.  This is my dream.

Grāpples –   My friend Becky told me about these grape-flavored apples recently.  As if orange-dyed oranges weren’t bad enough.  What to say?  “Why would you need to mess with a good thing?” comes to mind…or “But…huh?…how?!!”  I’ll play devil’s advocate and…for those of us who don’t want to be bothered with buying our natural fiber sources separately, it makes perfect sense?  Grape smooshing foot phobias?  They wanna push the boundaries of their newfound foodie tolerance for odd flavor combinations?  Pot heads?  

If what my parents told me about kids who don’t like their foods touching being geniuses is true, then what does that say about the kids who are gobbling these things?  And the web site is vague as can be – “we use the highest quality fruit, and prepare them thru a bathing process with a 100% Food Grade/Safe grape flavor solution (proprietary blend). ”  Say what?  You can’t disclose what is flavoring your apples?  You can’t be bothered to spell out “through”, either.  Time savers!

And…”It’s as healthy as if you just picked an apple off a tree.”

Yeah, a freak tree that’s been shot out of Flint Lockwood’s Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator.

Where does the flavoring come from? …”the same synthesized grape flavoring agent used in 100’s of other retail food items.”  Not helping.  This is how carnie food started.  They may not be covered in teeth-breaking red 40 candy force-fields or rainbow M&Ms, but they’re fake nonetheless.  These things have to be separately packaged, and not located in the loose fruit bins, because they’re technically a processed food.


Kraft is apparently thinking about removing yellow dyes from some of their popular products.  I say, “Good on ya”.  But I want to know…will they remove dyes from Lunchables, Mott’s applesauce, Jell-O, and Kool-Aid too?  But uh-oh, then Kraft won’t be able to satisfy the demand for these rainbow Oreos!  I love the concept, but I admit I cannot figure out the logistics of how to eat the thing.  Lots of chewing, I would guess.  Then lots of brushing.

McDonalds is trying their hand at a more natural summer drink in the US, called the McCafe Chiller. Many of us were doubtful when we first heard about this new menu item.  But I’ve heard from parents of additive-sensitive kids that they’ve tried these with no problems.  I haven’t been to a McDonald’s in ages but I’m about to embark on an 1,900-mile road trip this year, so it may be nice to have an alternative to Wendy’s Frosty and the ubiquitous gas station ICEE.  It’s not gonna revolutionize McD’s menu, but it’s a start.  And hopefully enough customers will buy them so as to influence what McDonald’s competitors are offering.

2 Responses to “Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring: July 2012”
  1. Penny says:

    I was surprised to find out yesterday that Pepperidge Farm Colored Goldfish Crackers are colored naturally. Apparently they have been for a few years now, but I had always assumed that bright colors=bad for me. They do have annatto coloring for those sensitive to that, but no artificial lake dyes. Instead they use paprika, beet juice, watermelon, etc.

    Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise for me and I thought I would share with those who may not have been aware!

    • Indie Mama says:

      That is great, and many parents do not know this, so thank you for sharing! I guess they made the change recently, like you said, because I was surprised to see that too when we first started going dye-free. We both react to annatto so we buy the pretzel or parmesan Goldfish crackers.

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