The Public Health Advocacy Institute put out an article at the beginning of the 2012 school year entitled, “Nestles nutritional advice recommends avoiding Kraft Lunchables, but Nestle puts its candy in Lunchables anyway.” Currently Lunchables are under fire from many different fronts. The biggest complaint is behavior issues in children after they eat Lunchables.
Oscar Mayer began production of Lunchables in the ’80s when bologna sales fell. This was referred to as the “bologna crisis.” The general public was turning away from red meat producing a 10% decline in sales. Media, at the time, was creating public concern over meat and suspicion that it caused cholesterol, clogged arteries and heart attacks.
An Oscar Mayer executive researched moms, with a specific focus on working moms, and found they needed easy food to serve for school lunches. Prototype names were Lunch Kits, Go-Packs, Fun Mealz, On-Trays, Crackerwiches, Mini Meals, Snackables, Square Meals and Walk Meals .
The goal for the meal packages was to increase sales of bologna and ham so they were the obvious ingredients from the beginning. Once the discovery panel settled onto the idea of using crackers instead of bread the shelf life was suitable for two solid months in the refrigerated section. Cheese was added to round out the combination but Natural Cheddar cheese proved to be too messy so they chose the next option which was processed cheese. The processed cheese lasted longer, was smoother to cut with less waste due to crumbling. Two cents per package was saved when they switched to “cheese food” replacing the processed cheese even though taste test panels preferred the processed cheese over the “cheese food.” Shortly thereafter Oscar Mayer and Kraft merged and cheese was purchased at cost.
The end product has been a profit maker and increased bologna sales to higher than before the decline in processed meat sales. After the first 12 months Lunchables profits were reported as $218 million.
Today there are many different options of Lunchables each containing their own nutritional break down. Roughly they contain nine grams of saturated fat (just shy of the daily maximum for children), 1,780 milligrams of salt and 13 teaspoons of sugar. Ironically that’s the same amount of sugar in a slice of chocolate cake with frosting. Click here for more information.
Fast forward to 2013 and Lunchables are disrupting classrooms across America. Teachers are seeing the connection to the meals and problem behavior. One teacher specifically asked me to do a post on the negative affects of Lunchables. She refers to those who eat the meals as “Lunchable Kids.” She says, “Their behavior is problematic in the classroom, disruptive and exhausting.”
She added, “More of my Lunchable Kids create behavioral problems than my other kids. They take shortcuts, have poor attitudes and seem to struggle socially. I also believe that the lack of nutrition makes it difficult for the kids to function.”
Interestingly enough she said, “This is also true of my ‘beige’ lunch kids. These are the kids who only bring foods in the beige range-chicken nuggets, goldfish, chocolate pudding, etc. They just struggle to focus and stay on task.” She said she can pick out Lunchable Kids as soon as school starts, “Before I even see what they will be eating for lunch.”
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, neurologist and author of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) says kids respond like drug addicts to foods they should not eat. These are the very foods that negatively affect their systems damaging their intestinal tracts further. To learn more click here.
One homeschool mom, who is full of love and energy for her children says, “My girls get hyped up on them and beg for them, almost like they’re a drug.”
Another mom who suffers from chronic lyme disease said, “It gives me migraines almost immediately after I eat them.”
A mom from Chattanooga whose kids are highly active and well behaved said, “They have to be pretty bad because my kids won’t even eat them. Oh, they’ll eat the dessert in them or if there is a drink, but they won’t touch the main entree ???? And my kids like junk food!”
For healthy alternatives that look like Lunchables click here.
A meeting of all the food giants was held in 1999 in Minneapolis, at Pillsbury, with the agenda of addressing the growing obesity problem. James Behnke, executive at Pillsbury later said, “It didn’t work. These guys weren’t as receptive as we thought they would be.” It was reported that, “Sanger (Steven Sanger, head of General Mills) was trying to say, ‘Look, we’re not going to screw around with the company jewels here and change the formulations because a bunch of guys in white coats are worried about obesity’. ”
The response in changing food to be more nutritious was consistent with the executives. The NY Times reported the head of General Mills said, “To react to the critics would jeopardize the sanctity of the recipes that had made his products so successful.”
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