Not all foods are what they seem. While some labels are obvious with the addition of words like “flavored” or “imitation,” not all fake foods are such transparent frauds. Sometimes purveyors and manufacturers are actively trying to trick you into spending more for a premium item that’s not even the real thing. Somehow this is completely legal.
Here are some luxury food items that aren’t what they’re purported to be when sold in the United States.
- Cantaloupes are actually muskmelons, which has a reticulated skin like a cantaloupe but a very different flavor.
- Truffle Oil contains no truffles, but instead is composed of some oil (usually olive) and 2–4 dithiapentane, a synthetic compound that’s a component of truffle flavor. Sounds tasty. Anthony Bourdain referred to truffle oil as “the ketchup of the middle class.”
- Wasabi is usually horseradish mixed with colored dyes. You can get actual wasabi in some higher-end sushi restaurants, but it’s not neon-green in color (it’s more of a pale yellow) and usually quite expensive as it has to be imported.
- Kobe Beef is not legal to export from Japan, so unless you’ve eaten it in a fine Japanese steakhouse, what you’ve eaten as a “kobe slider” isn’t actually Kobe beef. It’s probably not even fake Kobe beef, otherwise known as Waygu which is the same breed of cow raised outside of Japan.
- Super White Tuna isn’t tuna. It’s actually escolar, also known as the “snake mackerel,” which can cause diarrhea-like symptoms. It’s illegal to serve in Japan, but just fine according to the FDA in the United States. Consider just getting regular red tuna in your sushi.
- Olive Oil may be “adulterated” with other (cheaper) oils that aren’t as healthy for you. To see which brands of oils are actually 100% olive oil, you can check this list.
- Parmesan Cheese is probably not the real deal. You may expect that from the powered “Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” variety, but chances are even the expensive wedge you buy and grate yourself at the expensive local market isn’t actually Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese made to centuries-old exacting standards in Italy, but rather a cheaper fake.
So those are some of the more sinister fakers. There are other “foods” that don’t really pretend to be the real thing, but it may surprise you just how fake they are:
- Bacon Bits contain no bacon. I think this one’s not even trying to pretend to be the real thing, but those Bac-Os or Bacn-Pieces are made from soy.
- Cool Whip is not whipped cream. It’s primarily an emulsion of water and vegetable oil. Nothing says “more, please” than a big glop of oil atop your pie.
- SunnyD is not orange juice. It doesn’t pretend to be, but it contains “less than 2%” of various juices, which means it could contain as little as none actual orange juice.
- Pancake Syrup generally contains not even a little bit of actual maple syrup. Most brands like Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, or Hungry Jack don’t even use the word “maple” to describe their syrup, whereas some brands will refer to it as “maple-flavored syrup.”
What does this have to do with weight loss and clean livin’? Not much, other than I was surprised to learn about a few of these and wanted to share this knowledge because I don’t think a lot of this is widely known.
I don’t really eat many of these things anyway (especially from the second list) but mostly because they’re horrible for you, are highly caloric, and don’t taste very good. What a triple threat.