Sneaky cheese, how salt is shaped, and what exactly “bliss point” means. Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat, tells us 10 things you need to know about how the food giants are hooking us.
10. The inventors of processed food refer to their work as “engineering,” because it involves an incredible amount of laboratory time and high math. When Howard Moskowitz, a legend in the industry, recently engineered a new soda flavor for Dr Pepper, he tested out 61 formulations of the sweet flavoring, each only slightly different from the next, and put these through 3,904 consumer tastings, then applied regression analysis to find the perfect formula guaranteed to be make the soda a hit.
9. Every one of our 10,000 taste buds is wired for sweet taste, but even we can get too much sugar in our food. So what Moskowitz and other food scientists seek out is called the “bliss point,” which is the perfect amount of sweetness, not too little, not too much. With sugar being added to more and more items in the grocery store, there are now calculated bliss points for pasta sauce, bread, frozen pizza, and on and on.
8. In many ways, fat is even more powerful than sugar as an additive to processed foods. It has twice the calories as sugar, but it will sneak up on the brain when you don’t realize you are eating a fatty food. Even more problematic for consumers, the kind of fat that is bad for you, known as saturated fat, is typically solid and really fools the brain. Scientists refer to it as the “invisible fat” because it slips into your diet and body unseen. But boy does it add to the allure. The attraction of fat is known to food companies as “mouthfeel,” like the warm gooey sensation of melted cheese.
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