More like Freezer Burned out
September 10, 2014 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Freezer Burns is a youtube show where Gregory Ng reviews frozen food items you can buy in US Supermarkets. Amazingly, the Freezer Burns YouTube channel was nearly at 700 shows when he tried out a Kid Cuisine How To Train Your Dragon meal and you'll have to watch it all the way to the end to see his Come To Jesus moment (previously).
posted by mathowie (90 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy shit! Was that for real?
posted by mondo dentro at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Kid's Cuisine has "fruit snacks" in it now? Where's the little molten hot brownie compartment? Where's the love?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


It could be fake, but it seemed real and the guy usually seems pretty honest in his videos. I can't believe it took him 692 episodes to realize the pointlessness of everything.
posted by mathowie at 12:54 PM on September 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Seems to be genuine. Adweek has a good article/interview about the incident.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Today on the Today Show, Gregory Ng, a popular YouTube frozen food reviewer, joins us to talk about his realization that frozen prepared food is filled with chemicals and preservatives! Welcome to Today, Greg!"

"Thanks, Matt"

"And I understand you also have a new book coming out, Whole Foods for Healthy Kids?"

"That's right, Matt"
posted by leotrotsky at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


He goes into a lot more detail about the why in this blog post.
posted by jbickers at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2014


At the end he says "get this mic of of me", but it really doesn't seem like there's anyone else in the kitchen with him. It's not like I don't talk to myself, though, but it's still kind of an odd thing to say if alone.
posted by item at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2014


That doesn't mean I think it's fake, btw.
posted by item at 1:00 PM on September 10, 2014


I am made up of tons of ingredients, most of which I don't recognize. Please don't eat me.
posted by not_on_display at 1:04 PM on September 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


At least take me out to dinner first.
posted by kmz at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


leotrotsky: ""That's right, Matt""

kneejerk internet cynicism aside, I don't think I can fault him.
posted by boo_radley at 1:07 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still prefer Leonard's Frozen Pizza Reviews from Community.
posted by inturnaround at 1:10 PM on September 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


"And I understand you also have a new book coming out, Whole Foods for Healthy Kids?"

"That's right, Matt"


I would be more interested to see him expand on how to eat healthy on the convenience type foods he has become famous for reviewing. He does note in the adweek article (And I agree with him bigtime here):
"While the issue of healthy eating eventually ended the show for me, the frozen food category as a whole did not and does not contradict my health and my parenting.

There are a ton of items in the freezer aisle that are extremely nasty, unhealthy, sodium-laden and fattening. They truly fit the stereotype of frozen food. But there are also a ton of options that cater to organic, healthy eating as well as special dietary needs like gluten-free or vegetarian.

As the Frozen Food Master, I was able to uncover those gems in the freezer aisle that were great tasting and good for you with the added convenience that frozen meals provide. "
So, tell me more about that. I don't question his ability to write about whole foods, it's just kind of a topic that has been done to death. People who can't/don't want to learn to cook need healthy living advice too.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:18 PM on September 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


jbickers: "He goes into a lot more detail about the why in this blog post."

This is honestly a decent read:
The truth is my target audience is college kids. Always has been, always will be. I could have evolved my show to review more sophisticated, healthier options to attract an older audience. The problem is the more profitable YouTube audience doesn’t want that type of food. I have many data points that point to the fact that if I reviewed a gluten-free vegetarian skillet meal it would get 1/3 the views of a review of a Hot Pocket or a Pizza Roll. I knew this data and I continued to make the decisions to review stuff that i knew would get views. And most of the time this meant eating stuff that just isn’t good nor consistent with the way i want to eat.
It's worth considering the ethics of his statement comparing what sells to what decent ("decent") food is, and how his reviews might be influencing people to make poor decisions. I think there may be many different ways for him to get out in front of people that don't involve him eating butt food sent to him by butt food manufacturers, and hopefully some of those are profitable for him.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yes, this guy seemed to catch onto the "this food isn't food" bandwagon later than most of us here on MeFi. But it must be pointed out that there are literally millions of Americans that are currently on the other side of that moment of realization, and millions who will die without ever having that "come to jesus" moment.


obligitory xkcd
posted by DGStieber at 1:21 PM on September 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


So the first 691 frozen dinners he reviewed were... what? Okay?

I mean Jesus, who was watching his show to find out what kind of frozen dinners would be the tastiest anyway? Didn't everyone else figure out they're all crap after, I don't know, maybe half a dozen of them or so?
posted by Naberius at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


He's a "content creator" who does go into some well-thought-out detail about what he's doing in his blog, and honestly, it just sounds like he's realized that he's going to be "that dude who eats icky frozen things" into his middle age if he keeps this up, and he doesn't want to be that.

Lots of bloggers/YouTube channel hosts and other social media people get themselves into niches and don't like what it turns them into.
posted by xingcat at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


Sad to hear that super-processed meal units for kids have fallen so far since the days of Tyson's Looney Tunes Meals.
posted by Iridic at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


jbickers: He goes into a lot more detail about the why in this blog post.

boo_radley: This is honestly a decent read

I disagree, and say it is a depressing depiction of someone who is deep into the soul-less world of (internet) marketing. The language he writes is English, but the sort not discussed among friends and family, but among fellow internet marketers. Behold, and weep for his soul:
On New Years Day 2014 I set out to produce a video every single day in 2014. I did this for a number of reasons. I wanted to see if I could figure out the true drivers of YouTube engagement and channel optimization.The hypothesis that I had was that posting every single day builds a content consumption appetite that shows positive metrics in every metric that was important to me. Those were: Subscribers, Views per visit, total video views, minutes watched per video, revenue per video, and total revenue.
You don't tell that to people when they ask "how have you been doing?" You would never tell someone "I'm showing positive metrics! I proved this hypothesis after only one month!" The thing is, there are ways to talk about this without sounding robotic and hyper-market focused, but he doesn't seem to realize that, or maybe his blog is more focused on other SEO types (but other blog posts don't seem so dryly technical). And his blog is called Follow Greg, which makes it all sound so hyper-focused on social media, not as a discussion with other people who like to watch videos of someone eating terrible food.
The third moment of clarity for me is perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was out for dinner with my wife and I after looking at the menu, I wanted a salad but ordered a “Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids” because I knew my audience would want to see it. It was at that instance that i knew my webshow business life was creeping into my personal life.
Last time he returned to this, he referred to his work as "the hamster wheel." Good luck getting away from all that, for you and your family.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2014 [26 favorites]


This guy's job irl is SEO. He had the choice to publish the video. This is really fishy.
posted by Yowser at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


filthy light thief: "Good luck getting away from all that, for you and your family."

Sure, it's a long road to walk. But I think I interpret it more as a "oh my god, this is soulless garbage, I have to get away." moment than not.
posted by boo_radley at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2014


people who like to watch videos of someone eating terrible food

There are people who don't?
posted by thelonius at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2014


I think we figured it out! This guy who makes videos reviewing shitty disgusting frozen meals isn't doing it because he hasn't been to the other side of the grocery store before, he's doing it to make money happen!
posted by oceanjesse at 1:41 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


This guy's job irl is SEO. He had the choice to publish the video. This is really fishy.

Yeah, this felt fairly scripted for something that's purporting to be a spontaneous "a-ha" moment. The follow-up blog post where he's all proud about his mic drop makes it clear that he's just using this to build his personal brand or whatever. Gross.
posted by dhammond at 1:44 PM on September 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


Yeah, it's a little gross, but maybe this will influence KID CUISINE CORPORATION to improve their offerings in some small way?
posted by oceanjesse at 1:48 PM on September 10, 2014


from the discussion this sounds like some sort of lost P K Dick novel, I'm not going to watch the video.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


ennui.bz, the pink lasers exist only within our own brains.
posted by boo_radley at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pepsi Ewww.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:59 PM on September 10, 2014


For reference and because it's hard to find, I dug up the ingredients of the meal:

INGREDIENTS:BREADED FUN SHAPED CHICKEN BREAST PATTIES: CHICKEN BREAST WITH RIB MEAT, WATER, BREADER (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR [ULTRAGRAIN®], SALT, DEXTROSE, SOYBEAN OIL {PROCESSING AID}, YEAST, EXTRACTIVES
OF PAPRIKA), BATTER (WATER, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR [ULTRAGRAIN®], CORN STARCH, DEXTROSE, SALT, SPICES, SUGAR, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, YEAST EXTRACT, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, GUAR GUM, GARLIC POWDER, LEAVENING {SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, SODIUM BICARBONATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE}, EXTRACTIVES OF TURMERIC), SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CORN STARCH, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, FLAVORING, SUGAR, FRIED IN VEGETABLE OIL WITH BHT. CORN (CORN, WATER, SUGAR). MACARONI AND CHEESE SAUCE: COOKED PASTA (WATER, PASTA [DURUM WHEAT SEMOLINA, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR {ULTRAGRAIN®} EGG WHITE]), CHEESE SAUCE: WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING: CHEDDAR CLUB CHEESE (PASTEURIZED CULTURED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO COLOR), DRIED SWEET WHEY, SOYBEAN OIL, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, DRIED SWEET CREAM (SWEET CREAM, NONFAT MILK, SODIUM CASEINATE), WHEAT FLOUR, CHEDDAR CHEESE FLAVOR (DEHYDRATED BLEND OF WHEY, GRANULAR AND BLUE CHEESE [PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES], SUNFLOWER OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CITRIC ACID, LACTIC ACID), BUTTER (SWEET CREAM, SALT), ACETIC ACID ESTERS OF MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES WITH MALTODEXTRIN, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, FLAVORING (MALTODEXTRIN, NATURAL FLAVOR), BETA CAROTENE (CORN OIL, BETA CAROTENE), CITRIC ACID. GUMMY BUG SNACKS: CORN SYRUP, SUCROSE, GELATIN, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, PECTIN, CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVORS, FRUIT JUICE AND VEGETABLE JUICE COLORS, SODIUM CITRATE, COCONUT OIL, CARNAUBA WAX, ASCORBIC ACID (from here, using the product "Kid Cuisine Fun Shaped Chicken Breast Nuggets" which is identical except for the shapes)

I don't have time to add my criticism of the quality of the ingredients, but safe to say that's pretty appalling.
posted by plinth at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


This guy is just straight up disgusting. It is fitting that reviews frozen food as he is about as authentic as a How to Train Your Dragon chicken nugget.

Why did he get into frozen food review? Not because he particularly liked/cared about it, but because:

I set out to not only start a webshow but to own the niche. I did this by producing frequent, focused, SEO-rich content. I gained success!

The entire show and even his entire persona seems to be SEO optimized in the most artificial, soul-sucking way. His explanatory blog post does not contain a single iota of soul, character or personality and reads like something out of The Space Merchants. This part, talking about why he decided to produce a video a day for 2014, is particularly rich:

The hypothesis that I had was that posting every single day builds a content consumption appetite that shows positive metrics in every metric that was important to me. Those were:

At this point, a non-robot would say something like, "happiness" or "creativity" or "positive feedback from my fans." SEObot, though is motivated by:

Subscribers, Views per visit, total video views, minutes watched per video, revenue per video, and total revenue.

Everything about this is phony. The "Ultimate mic drop" -- as he modestly refers to it -- was scripted, the blog post was scripted, and, honestly, I'm a little bit embarrassed that anyone here can't see this.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2014 [25 favorites]


Honestly, I think his biggest crime is not recognizing Toothless's head profile chicken nugget. Come on!
posted by kmz at 2:22 PM on September 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


I don't have time to add my criticism of the quality of the ingredients, but safe to say that's pretty appalling.

I don't see anything terribly objectionable in that ingredients list. Don't get me wrong, these meals are terrible for you, but they're terrible for you for the prosaic reason that they have too much sugar*, salt, and fat, and not because they have too many ingredients or scary "chemicals" in them.
posted by Pyry at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


plinth, he lists the ingredients in the description of the video on youtube.
posted by item at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2014




plinth: " [ULTRAGRAIN®]"

[ULTRAGRAIN®]
posted by boo_radley at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Alternate titles:
Swanson's Swan Song
God's Last Hungry Man
Hot Pox on Both Their Houses!
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish Sticks
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2014 [19 favorites]


Given the name and trademark of Ultragrain, it appears far less horrific than I was suspecting.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


("decent") food

Food that if eaten on a regular basis isn't actively bad for you? Scare quotes are silly here.

Yes, lots of people don't have the time, interest, or money to make meals from scratch. No judgement at all. The problem is how many of those people are persuaded by advertising that these kinds of meals are good and healthy, when they are anything but. I'm not judging the people who buy them in any way--the world is too busy for most people to be educated on this topic. The manufacturers, on the other hand, fill ready-made meals with sugar, salt, and fat because they're cheaper than using actually tasty ingredients.

So, yeah, scare-quoting 'decent' here is pointless. There is, objectively, food that is bad for you when consumed on a regular basis. These manufacturers specifically aim for you to eat it on a regular basis, and they cram their food full of things that tickle your lizard brain (which just loves fat and sugar) into liking them. That's the problem.

That and SEO jerkwads.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 meal (227g)
Servings Per Container 1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 400
Calories from Fat 110

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 480mg 20%
Potassium 430mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 18%
Dietary Fiber 7g 28%
Sugars 13g
Protein 17g
Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 8% Iron 10%
Thiamine 10% Riboflavin 8%
Folic Acid 45% Vitamin B12 15%
Pantothenic Acid 8% Phosphorus 25%
Magnesium 10% Manganese 35%
http://www.kidcuisine.com/our-food/easy-kids-meals/fun-shaped-chicken-nuggets-meal#sthash.JwvMOyDT.dpuf

Not sure it's all that awful nutritionally. Has some fat and sodium going on but looks like it could fit within daily recommended allowances assuming other meals are reasonable. Of course, those percentages are based on a 2000 calorie diet, you would have to figure it out based on the individual nutritional needs of the person. With children, it's pretty hard to do because they can be so picky about what they will eat and are constantly growing.

That sort of confusion is kind of why I'd like to see a guide to staying nutritionally sound while eating stuff like this regularly. It actually seems easier to me to track nutrition when you have a single label, unlike when you do a big complex recipe, but you have less room to tinker for your own individual needs.

What turned me off on considering it something I would regularly give to kids is it just looked limp and watery and unappetizing, like most microwave meals. But if a kid asked for it and liked it, I might work it in.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:08 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "Food that if eaten on a regular basis isn't actively bad for you? Scare quotes are silly here."

They weren't really scare quotes though? I expected that if I said just "decent food" people here would say something like "bluh, a 'gluten-free vegetarian skillet' sounds awful, give me ham and eggs" so please consider them "alternate interpretation quotes" rather than scare quotes. I feel the rest of what I wrote supports the idea that I'd like to see a frozen food reviewer reviewing decent (quoteless) food.
posted by boo_radley at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2014


Fair enough interpretation, I should have been more charitable. Apologies.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:25 PM on September 10, 2014


I don't have time to add my criticism of the quality of the ingredients, but safe to say that's pretty appalling.

It's appalling that he claims not to recognize those ingredients. They're all really common and none of them are OH NO SCARY CHEMICALS.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:30 PM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Didn't he say that this is basically the same as some other meal he had before, only with different shaped nuggets? What is it about the shape of Toothless's head that is so disgusting?
posted by ckape at 3:35 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


His videos seem to average 3,000 views, which is nothing by YouTube standards, and he's been at it for five years.

'Bout time he gave up.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on September 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


CheeseDigestsAll: "Given the name and trademark of Ultragrain, it appears far less horrific than I was suspecting."

And it's made from hyperwheat.
posted by boo_radley at 4:00 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


i am a rotten, no good parent - my kid insisted on eating these kid cuisine meals all the time and i let her

she survived

she is now a vegetarian who eats very well

i'll just crawl back under my rock now
posted by pyramid termite at 4:04 PM on September 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


These nuggets. You say they are fun-shaped?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:16 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


What is the shape of fun, anyway?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:21 PM on September 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, if you had six fingers...
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:24 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The ingredients are basically what you would expect, except: "CHICKEN BREAST WITH RIB MEAT" probably means "pink slime recovered from chicken frames after saleable meat has been removed" and the "CHEESE SAUCE" is basically gooey water with cheese flavoring.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:25 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]




(Not sure where the bones here ended up)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's appalling that he claims not to recognize those ingredients. They're all really common and none of them are OH NO SCARY CHEMICALS.

Exactly! I was thinking of whipping up a SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CARANUBA WAX and SODIUM CASEINATE omelette for my girlfriend's birthday, with ESTERS OF MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES WITH MALTODEXTRIN for dessert. Really common ingredients in my grandma's pantry and in mine.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:39 PM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't mind when people are frustrated they have to google food to figure out exactly what it is. It's a pain in the ass for me because I try to avoid animal products and they can sometimes be hidden behind things like "Natural Flavor." It only gets on my nerves when there is a leap to considering things you can't identify dangerous just because they aren't recognizable.

If I google, I get a better sense of the ingredients and in my head can grapple a little more easily with defatted soy flour, brazil wax, cheese protein, and mixed esters of glycerin with a hydrolyzed corn or wheat starch.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:54 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "I don't know what this is, so it must be KILLING OUR CHILDREN" is not really the way to go about figuring out what food is good or bad for you. It's the woo-filled, Food Babe way of doing it, and it's dumb and unscientific.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:55 PM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Honestly, I think his biggest crime is not recognizing Toothless's head profile chicken nugget. Come on!


Seriously. My kid was watching that over my shoulder and going mental. "THE PICTURE OF TOOTHLESS IS RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX. IT'S ON THE BOOOOXXXXXXXXXXX."
posted by looli at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was thinking of whipping up a SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CARANUBA WAX and SODIUM CASEINATE omelette for my girlfriend's birthday, with ESTERS OF MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES WITH MALTODEXTRIN for dessert. Really common ingredients in my grandma's pantry and in mine.

I have a giant tub of soy protein isolate in my cupboard. It has a body builder on the label. It's...protein. They take soy, and they isolate the protein. That's why it's called that.

Carnauba wax is in pretty much every candy ever. It's what makes M&M's melt in your mouth and not in your hand. You might not have it on hand, but you've eaten tonnes of it. (It's made from leaves. Don't let the "also a floor wax" fool you, it's fine.)

Sodium caseinate. That's casein. Milk solids. Yes, put it in an omelette. You might have a big orange block of it in your fridge.

Glycerides = fat. Dextrin = starch.

Seriously, these are all totally normal things.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2014 [34 favorites]


I came here to say what Sys Rq said. In addition, these are the words used by the modern food industry to describe their ingredients, as mandated by the FDA or whoever. I have to say that I don't buy things like that because I don't like processed foods very much, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it. (There's plenty wrong with a) the system, and b) the fact that people eat that stuff every day.)
posted by sneebler at 5:06 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oops -- I take back the bit about carnauba wax in M&M's. They use gum acacia (better known as gum arabic...hmm...) instead. But that's the sort of thing it's used for.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2014


Being a homebrewer, names like maltodextrin and xylitol do not scare me anymore. Seconding Sys Rq's breakdown.

The real crime here is Dude bites the fork and slides it across his teeth. I can't stand it when people do that, car battery to the spinal column.
posted by The Power Nap at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


He didn't even try the gummi bugs. Three big bites before you can say you don't like them.
posted by angerbot at 5:54 PM on September 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


"THE PICTURE OF TOOTHLESS IS RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX. IT'S ON THE BOOOOXXXXXXXXXXX."

Wait for the winds. Then my birds sing! And the deep grottoes whisper my name! BOOOOXXXXXXXXXXX. BOOOOXXXXXXXXXXX. BOOOOXXXXXXXXXXX....
posted by Naberius at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Chasing page views: bad for your soul, no matter what your medium is.
posted by egypturnash at 6:37 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Better to chase favorites.
posted by Area Man at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


This makes me want to start a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing novelty items stuffed in to seasonal cereal varietals.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:27 PM on September 10, 2014


His reflection is visible in the microwave. You can kind of work out what he's doing after he walks off camera.

Mark me down in the "deliberate, not spontaneous" column.
posted by themanwho at 9:54 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


So the interpretations break down like this:

His motivations for producing this video are less than pure.

Pretending that you can discern the motivations of another human being based on the content they create for the internet is the greatest poison to actual discussion and exchange of real ideas on the internet. If the context of this were changed only slightly and it was somehow labeled "performance art," we wouldn't be bothering about his motivations and their meaning. When you whip out the google-fu for every little thing, you're just Kobra Kai all the way, baby.

His understanding of ingredients is fundamentally flawed and therefore his subsequent rant is invalidated.

I'm a label reader. Even when I eat absolute garbage, I still read the label. Less so I can tailspin into self judgmental spiral and more so I can know what I'm putting into my body and can then make mental notes on how I feel. I recently finally figured out that I have some extreme sensitivity to turmeric through just this method. Thank the cow god, now I don't have to eat that weapons grade Indian food anymore. Anyway, point being, long lists of ingredients are generally inversely proportional to food quality in most respects. I think he may have been choosing to highlight that idea in an albeit ham-fisted manner.

Then there's all the internet's-answer-to-Henny-Youngmans out there who drop there one-liners like a pale ultragrain laden deuce in the thread. (Favorite my comment, please!)

It seems like I just threw down some judgment, but I think these comments actually add real value to the discussion. They break up the monotony of long-winded self-important rants like mine. And more importantly, they add a bit of randomness that can really spark a new or interesting thought whether it appears in the thread or not.

So, for what it's worth, here's my interpretation:

If a soulless, money chasing, SEO-obsessed glob is running an experiment to check the market viability of a particular sentiment about the state of food and nutrition in this country, then we label readers might just be gaining some ground out there in the big world. Maybe people who have the means to make a choice about what they will and will not accept as food might make a difference for people who can't afford to make the same choice.

Maybe this is just the change we've longed for. Maybe we're winning.

And his motivations and relative knowledge of the subject didn't actually matter one little bit.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 9:54 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This makes me want to start a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing novelty items stuffed in to seasonal cereal varietals.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:27 PM on September 10


I don't know about the current state of non-US countries, but if you're in the states you're gonna be mighty disappointed about the [non-]state of cereal premiums.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:38 PM on September 10, 2014


Honestly, what makes the whole video is the super slow fade to black at the end of it. There's a finality to that which is remarkable.
posted by hippybear at 11:51 PM on September 10, 2014


Not as bad as the video of the guy lighting a Cheeto on fire and then flipping out about the CHEMICALSZ1. That's been all over my social media, sadly. Like, you only have to know how fire works in order to recognize how righteous Cheetos are for burning. Air-puffed cellulose saturated with oil? It's not witchcraft, ya neophilistines. Learn to read the ingredients, not just glance at them and faint from the horror the horror.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:41 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to start a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing novelty items stuffed in to seasonal cereal varietals.

I don't want to blow your mind or anything but the most viewed video about opening kinder-egg style toys has 122,210,409 views right now.

No, I'm totally kidding. Not about the number of views, though; I totally hope that blew your mind.
posted by juv3nal at 1:06 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jesus wept, being a YouTube content creator chasing views should be some new insidious circle in Dante's Inferno. You can JUST STOP SILENTLY without having the quitting be about views too.
posted by benzenedream at 1:13 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't see anything evil, or even offensive, about these frozen kid's meals.
I'm not surprised an adult found the nugget meal inedible because the fare is calibrated for a child's tastes:
everything familiar and nothing overwhelming; each little portion easy for a child to eat, right down to the overcooked pasta.

If I were serving this, I'd send the nuggets for a short trip under the broiler to make them crunchy and offer a dollop of ranch and/or ketchup for dipping.
Hand over the box to the child to play with and promise the gummi treats for dessert...
For a child who's feeling picky, or just having a lousy day, that nugget meal would be manna from heaven.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:54 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah the overcooked pasta is something that would be useful for that period when a kid's losing their baby teeth.

I also wanted to point out that in addition to carnuba wax a lot of hard coated candies (and medicines!) also feature the hard waxy secretions of the Lac bug as a finish coating. I was a little grossed out when I first discovered that, but honestly it's flavorless, has been completely sterilized by being dissolved in ethanol first, and I've been eating it since childhood and touched countless pieces of furniture over my life so it wasn't too hard to make peace. It's also an amazing wood finish for pieces that won't see too much rough use or have alcohol spilled on them.
posted by mcrandello at 4:07 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


The thing you should consider in looking at the ingredients and the proportions are not "are these common ingredients?" or "do I recognize these ingredients?" but rather, "why are these ingredients in here?" and "would I use this ingredient?" and "what would I use instead?"

In the plinth household, we have one child with a Celiac disease diagnosis and another with problems with artificial colors (but to their credit they use vegetable colors) so the only person who could eat that meal in our house is Mrs. Plinth. Everything else is off the table.

First off - the chicken - if I were making this at home for my family, I would use the following ingredients - boneless skinless chicken breasts, almond flour (or potato starch), egg, coconut flakes, pepper, thyme or sage, salt. Process: cut chicken into "fingers", dredge a piece of chicken in almond flour, knocking off excess, dunk in beaten egg, roll into coconut mixed with spices, bake at 350 until done.

If you go to the link above, you'll find that the chicken they use could be the chicken I would use, or it could be processed with salt, MSG, or Sodium erythorbate. We're talking a Con Agra company, so I doubt it's anything but the kind with the added sodium. A lot of the ingredients in there are chosen to facilitate high-volume manufacturing and to be either long-lived in their warehouse or long-lived on the shelf or cheap. Every sub-component has salt (chicken, breader, batter all have salt or extra sodium and the breader and batter have sugars (dextrose and sugar).

The mac and cheese sauce - I would use Alton brown's recipe except with Tinkyada GF pasta and no breading on the top.

In theirs, the pasta is not objectionable. The cheese sauce is almost all water. It is completely an experiment low-cost, long-life, high-volume production, which I find particularly funny because cheese one of the ways we preserve milk so that it lasts longer than a few days.

For the corn, I would cook corn, a little butter, a little salt. How the fuck did they screw that up with sugar? It's not necessary unless maybe the corn you're growing is the late harvest starchy kind you'd feed to livestock (cow corn). I'm not saying it is. I am saying that corn doesn't need sugar.

For the fruit snacks, we've done Knox blocks, which is gelatin and fruit juice. They're doing the same except there is a shit ton of extra sugar.

The entire meal has 13g of sugar which is way too much for a kid. That's (IMHO) how much a kid should have in a day, not in a meal.

So when you look at it in a microcosmic way (soy protein isolate is just protein and is probably used in place of egg), it doesn't seem that bad, but when you look at it from a proportion process and reason point of view, it is horrible.

Traditionally, you exchange your money for saved time, in this case you're exchanging it for that and an excess of sugar, salt, and fat in your child's diet.

And that is not a fair exchange.
posted by plinth at 4:13 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't want to blow your mind or anything but the most viewed video about opening kinder-egg style toys yt has 122,210,409 views right now.

I knew of unboxing videos but, yes, that did blow my mind. Particularly the hyper-detailed crunchy unboxing sounds plus the music.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:54 AM on September 11, 2014


The entire meal has 13g of sugar which is way too much for a kid. That's (IMHO) how much a kid should have in a day, not in a meal.

Really? That's less sugar for a day than one cup of orange juice.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:33 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The entire meal has 13g of sugar which is way too much for a kid. That's (IMHO) how much a kid should have in a day, not in a meal.

Gee, who would have thought a meal with a side dish of candy would have a side dish of candy's worth of sugar!

You know what else has 13g of sugar, incidentally? One cup of lowfat milk.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:36 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Two thoughts: First... well duh! Who expected that horrible meal to be good? Second... there are people who watch videos reviewing shitty freezer stuff? WTF? Have we reached peak entertainment?
posted by ph00dz at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2014


Pot contributes there.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:17 AM on September 11, 2014


plinth: For reference and because it's hard to find, I dug up the ingredients of the meal:
...
I don't have time to add my criticism of the quality of the ingredients, but safe to say that's pretty appalling.
Thanks for digging up that ingredient list, plinth. I am curious as to why you are "appalled". Let's look:

Perfectly ordinary food: chicken breast with rib meat, water, bleached wheat flour, whole wheat flour, salt, dextrose, soybean oil, yeast, water, corn starch, spices, sugar, yellow corn flour, vegetable oil, corn, durum wheat semolina, whole grain wheat flour, egg white, pasteurized cultured milk, sweet cream, nonfat milk, wheat flour, sunflower oil, coconut oil, pasteurized milk, butter, corn oil, corn syrup, sucrose, gelatin.

Derivatives of perfectly ordinary food: extractives of paprika, yeast extract, modified corn starch, extractives of turmeric), soy protein isolate, corn starch, soy protein concentrate, dried sweet whey, modified food starch, dried sweet cream, dehydrated blend of whey, granular and blue cheese, cheese culture, whey protein concentrate, corn oil, apple juice concentrate, fruit juice and vegetable juice colors.

Scary-sounding chemicals that are perfectly normal ingredients: leavening {sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate}, bht, flavoring, enzymes, annatto color, sodium caseinate, maltodextrin, sodium phosphate, citric acid, lactic acid, acetic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides with maltodextrin, potassium chloride, disodium phosphate, beta carotene, citric acid, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, carnauba wax, ascorbic acid.

Of all of that, only the BHT is seriously questionable by any standards. Sugar may (or may not) be healthier than corn syrup, but I don't think most health experts would be "apalled" by its mere presence in a dessert.

If anyone is uncertain about what those chemicals are there for, I could list them, but really... the truth is your body contains known levels of dihydrogen monoxide (known to be present in many recent corpses), chlorine ions (a lethal gas!), sodium ions (which are explosive!), citric acid (an acid!), and so forth.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:22 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Personally, I think it would be more phony and reprehensible if he didn't divulge his true motives and pretended he was doing this for the good of humanity or something.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2014


He's just a simple guy trying to own a niche, build and audience and sell sponsorships! Based on watching this video, he sucks at doing these videos. Despite his "exponential" growth in viewership, he only had a few thousand views per episode. His "come to Jesus" moment was totally contrived. I wish him the best as a person, but as a "content creator" he was basically generating garbage. He's like the ultimate dystopian video blogger.
posted by snofoam at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2014


Meh. Mark me down in the "seems fishy" category for his "drop the mic" moment.

Also mark me down in the "that ingredients list is appalling" category. But also in the "I don't judge, and I know this is my own particular food bias" category.

We are way too tuned to FAT + SALT + SUGAR = SUCCESS, and I'd rather keep my daughter's horizons as broad as possible until such time as she starts throwing my sauteed shrimp and mint pesto risotto against the wall.

But I have family that are single parents, and I understand how and why these meals land on their table. I'd probably be in the same situation if my husband wasn't the SAHP willing to make the meals I outline. The presumption that everyone has the time, know-how, and willingness to make meals every damn day is a special kind of snobbery I attribute to the Mark Bittmans and Michael Ruhlmans of the world ("I cannot say this strongly or loudly enough: DO NOT use canned stock/broth", are you even for real, Ruhlman?). I don't want or need that negativity in my life.

(I can assure you that unless you are a supertaster, the canned broth is probably NOT going to ruin your meal. And while homemade stock doesn't take much cooking time, it does require cleaning at least two vessels, a strainer, and then storing it all, and that can be a burden when you only have weekends and an hour every night with your only child. Sorry, I'll buy the canned and live with myself somehow.)

I try to make myself part of the solution by offering leftovers of my homecooked meals to family members who don't have the time to make their own. It can't always be this way, but when it is it's good, and I get a good feeling, and they get a good meal, so win-win.
posted by offalark at 9:57 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


INGREDIENTS:BREADED FUN SHAPED CHICKEN BREAST PATTIES: CHICKEN BREAST WITH RIB MEAT, WATER, BREADER (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR [ULTRAGRAIN®], SALT, DEXTROSE, SOYBEAN OIL {PROCESSING AID}, YEAST, EXTRACTIVES
OF PAPRIKA), BATTER (WATER, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR [ULTRAGRAIN®] . . .


Just by way of comparison, while reading this thread I ate a meal that didn't take much longer than the microwave freezer meal to prepare, nor cost much if any more.

Ingredients: Cucumber, tomato, rice, broccoli, cabbage, cheese, oil, vinegar.

I mean, thank the lord people aren't literally dying of malnutrition when eating frozen prepared meals like the one in the review. This is mostly thanks to vitamin and mineral fortification required of basic ingredients like flour that are included in the meal, plus the fact that manufacturers know that customers read the nutrition labels so they make sure to fortify at least a few of the basic vitamins so that the label doesn't look completely appaling.

I'll refrain from any further commentary on the contrast in the ingredient lists, as you all seem capable of supplying that in spades . . .

Well, I will make just one small comment, which is that pretty much every guide to nutrition gives SOME idea of proportion among the various good groups and items as a priority in creating a balanced diet (example here). It's usually about a little bit more than "Is every item on the ingredient list non-poisonous?"

Stuff like greasy breaded meat product, pasta in a calorie-laden cheese sauce, and sugar-gelatin blobs are the type of thing our nutritionist told us to emphasize for a short while when one of our children was for various reasons temporarily way UNDER the recommended weight for his height & age. Eating like that is a great way to pack on a lot of pounds quickly.

But by far most children in industrialized countries today are well on the other side of that spectrum, and need to be de-emphasizing those high-calorie/low-nutrition/low-fiber items and emphasizing things like fruit and vegetables in their diets.

The thing about an ingredients list like that is even though every item on the list is most certainly non-poisonous, and moreover each item could be used in some fashion as part of a perfectly reasonable, balanced diet. But as soon as you see that type of ingredient list, you're also pretty much 100% certain you're not looking at a balanced meal meeting any kind of reasonable nutritional guidelines.

I mean, this isn't some far-out wacky, hippy, organic food-y, upper-middle-class, niche, or whatever thing. Even the U.S. government nutrition guidelines, which come under heavy pressure from various food industry groups, manages to agree on the the idea of balance and proportion, which this frozen meal very clearly does not meet, as a basic fundamental.

Yes, you can eat quite a bit of this kind of stuff for quite a while and almost certainly not die immediately. Really--that's not much of a recommendation . . .

posted by flug at 10:52 AM on September 11, 2014


flug: Ingredients: Cucumber, tomato, rice, broccoli, cabbage, cheese, oil, vinegar.

You're not listing the components of the cheese (which probably had at least a couple of chemicals in it), and there's a possibility that the rice, the oil, and the vinegar all had things added to them as well. Plus, unless you didn't season things at all, you didn't list that.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:29 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is the part of the conversation where I bring up the all-natural banana ingredient list.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:39 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


For those suggesting that salt is unhealthy, times is reporting that salt's role in hypertension may be overstated:
"new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension analyzed data from 8,670 French adults and found that salt consumption wasn’t associated with systolic blood pressure in either men or women after controlling for factors like age."
The CDC maintains the correlation exists, and the Time article points out that the publications are not in universal agreement on the subject, but it seems at least plausible that salt is accumulating some guilt by association; eat cheap high calorie foods and you'll probably also injest a good amount of salt. But I guess you could use 'avoid salt' as a proxy for 'avoid processed foods'.
posted by pwnguin at 12:02 PM on September 11, 2014


@IAmABroom - it's not the sugar in the fruit snacks. It's the sugar in everything (except the pasta). Every other thing has added sugar. The chicken has added sugar. The breader has added sugar. The batter has added sugar. The corn has added sugar. The fruit snacks are mostly sugar.

And because of the way the nutrition facts are done, there is no way to determine the proportion per item (FWIW - I sent in a question to ConAgra to get just that information, we'll see...)

13g of sugar is somewhat more than a tablespoon. It could be that there is a nominal amount in the "savory" portion and most of it in the sweet, but we can't really tell.

Is this meal the worst in the range of processed Kid's meals in the grocery store? No, but it doesn't come close to a typical (plinth) home cooked meal by a long shot, even the ones where we clearly phoned it in.
posted by plinth at 12:59 PM on September 11, 2014


And his motivations and relative knowledge of the subject didn't actually matter one little bit.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 9:54 PM on September 10 [+] [!]


LOL
posted by dhammond at 1:11 PM on September 11, 2014


flug: I mean, thank the lord people aren't literally dying of malnutrition when eating frozen prepared meals like the one in the review. This is mostly thanks to vitamin and mineral fortification required of basic ingredients like flour that are included in the meal, plus the fact that manufacturers know that customers read the nutrition labels so they make sure to fortify at least a few of the basic vitamins so that the label doesn't look completely appaling.
Those pearls will break if you clutch them any tighter. Basic nutrition is rather easy to come by, even if most processed food is far higher in some nutrients (polysaturated fats, sugars, simple starches, salt...) than is ideal - or even healthy. (And, yes, ALL of those things are nutrients, not poisons.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:57 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


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