Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guest Blog: J. Lloyd Morgan on Natural Flavor

Today I have a guest blogger, J. Lloyd Morgan. He's the author of the fantasy novel "The Hidden Sun," soon to be re-released by Walnut Springs.  I first met Jason (that's his non-book cover name) when he approached me to edit his book to get it ready for republication. He's got a great sense of humor (as you're about to find out) and he's also a thoroughly nice guy. If you'd like to check out his blog and read his other highly entertaining thoughts, here's the link.

I will now turn the time over to Jason.

Natural Flavor

Dinner time at the Morgan household can be quite the interesting experience.  Aside from talking about the day's events, we'll talk about any number of things.  One thing I love to do is "acquaint" my four daughters to the music of the 80's.  You Tube is an amazing tool for such an activity.  It's something else to see your seven-year-old daughter doing the "Safety Dance."

There are other times when the kids will ask a question like, "Why does it say 'Tomato Ketchup?'  Are there other kinds?"  So, we'll look it up.  And yes, there are other types.  One we found was "Banana Ketchup."  That then leads to the question, "Why do they call it 'yellow' mustard?  Isn't it always yellow?"  The answer?  No, it can be brown.  Heck, with a little food coloring, it can be any color you want.

But we aren't content to leave things there.  We'll start reading the ingredients of various foods.  Doing this led to a rather shocking and somewhat disturbing discovery.  

Natural flavor.  

What the heck is natural flavor?  And why is it in so many different things?

For example, I randomly sampled things in my fridge and pantry and these are things I found that contain the mysterious "natural flavor":  Apple / Cranberry Juice, spray butter, mixed berry yogurt, salsa, maple syrup, mayo, mustard (yellow), ketchup (tomato), animal crackers, hot cocoa mix, tomato soup, chocolate frosting, root beer, granola bars, pudding and macaroni & cheese.  Whoever invented this "natural flavor" must be richer than Bill Gates!  I mean, it's in everything.

But as odd as natural flavor is, there is something even stranger:  artificial flavor.  I mean, how can flavor be artificial?  After all, it has to be made from something on the earth, right?  Does that mean if I mix chocolate and peanut butter, I've created an "artificial flavor?"  One thing I know for sure, "artificial flavor" and "natural flavor" are not opposites.  Of the items listed above, several of them had both natural and artificial flavors.  (Maple syrup, hot cocoa mix, chocolate frosting, root beer, and strangely enough, granola bars)  If they were opposites, wouldn't they just cancel each other out?  Or if it's like matter and anti-matter, wouldn't having both ingredients in the same product be dangerous?

However, of all the items I "investigated", there are two that were the most disquieting:  hot dogs and bologna.  Neither had natural nor artificial flavor--but both of them did share a common ingredient:  something simply called "flavor"--and thank goodness they did!  Can you imagine how they would taste without "flavor?"
And then there was the case of the mystery drink we had one night for dinner. It claimed to be lemonade.  I'm a virtual connoisseur of lemonades (I guess that is a hobby you pick up when you don't partake of the strong drink) and this, my friends, was no lemonade.

Now my sweet wife tried to explain that there wasn't enough of the mix left to make real lemonade and it was actually just slightly flavored water.  However, it was yellow and smelled lemony--watered down or not, it was something I needed to investigate.

As to not get sued, I will not reveal the brand of the alleged lemonade.  But as I examined the container, a couple of things caught my attention right away.

#1.  It clearly states on the front that there are no "Artificial Flavors" in this mix.  

#2  Its selling point is "Lemonade Drink Mix.  Naturally Flavored with other Natural Flavor."  

Wait . . .  


"Naturally Flavored with other Natural Flavor?"  What does that even mean?

So, off to the back of the label I go.  There has to be some sort of explanation.  But no!  The ingredients were printed right where the lid joins with the jar--and when the lid was opened, the list of the ingredients was obliterated.  How you mock me, you faux lemonade!

Hello!  What's this?  Below the ingredients in bold are the allergy warnings.  Let's see here.  This "so called" lemonade may contain traces of milk, eggs, coconut, wheat, soy and . . .tilapia.  Tilapia?  Isn't that some sort of fish?

Alas, if only the lemonade had traces of lemons in it.  



Rebecca Talley said...

Tilapia? Gross.

Funny post! We've had some of the same discussions.

Lee Ann Setzer said...

It would be fun to be a fly on the wall at your house at dinnertime!

Anna said...

That reminds me of this question I heard once:

"Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor but dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?"

Lillian J. Banks said...

yeah, I am not sure the writers of the label industry are getting paid well enough to even bother explaining what anything means.
It's like saying 'My novel has some ordinary stuff, mixed with not so ordinary stuff, and the mushy part is there. Incredulously the rest is all written in latin so you can't understand it.'
There is my sales pitch any one interested??
Why do we eat fake food again?

Mary L Walling said...

Love it. I read labels all the time. Does it make you wonder why we eat or drink products we can't ever pronounce the ingredients of? My husband who worked on a dairy as a young boy will often ask if I know how cottage cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, etc is made? If I did I wouldn't eat or drink it. Alas, I would. I love the flavors. Even favorite all time food. I don't care I love the flavor.

Rebecca said...

This was hilarious! I'm going to have to check out Jason's blog.

Cindy R. Williams said...


Also, thanks for including me in your birthday give away of 10 pages edited by the wonderful Tristi Pinkston. Oh, and Happy Birthday too!

mormonhermitmom said...

But....what exactly is "natural flavor"?????? Is it classified?

Patty Ann said...

Love it! ..we love talapia, but don't think I want to try it in lemonade!! Think I will stick to freezing the lemon juice in ice cube trays then making it "fresh". At least I know what is in it!! Thanks for making me laugh!!!

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