March 07, 2006

Finding America, in the Recesses of My Freezer

I HAVE A CONFESSION to make: the freezer in my apartment is in desperate need of a good thawing out. However, to do this without feeling guilty, I first have to empty the freezer of all the frozen dinners, sandwiches, odd highly-processed snack foods and similar goods that I keep in it. This is a week in which the microwave shall get a workout.

But tonight, I found America in the recesses of my freezer: the America that's optimistic and productive, the America that's hard-working and forward-looking, the America that produces vast quantities of affordable consumer staples for the city on the hill. Yes, surely I found America within that package of South Beach Diet (TM) All American Breakfast Wraps, the package which the good people at Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. prepared with such obvious love and care. At least, I think that's why they put so many warning notices on the thing.

For instance, consider this gem on the back panel, down on the lower right:

CAUTION: PRODUCT WILL BE HOT.

Now, I can understand why the good people at Kraft Foods Inc. put that warning label on the package. After all, decades of civil case law have shown that Americans can't be expected to infer that, after one microwaves an All-American Breakfast Wrap at HIGH for 105 seconds, said burrito will be tongue-burning hot. That said, noting in addition that STEAM FROM POUCH WILL BE HOT seems a bit much. You know, because steam itself is hot. And because not-hot steam is actually water.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but looking over this package, I'm starting to wonder if the Kraft Foods people designed their All-American Breakfast Wraps packaging for All-American Morons. I mean, come on. DO NOT EAT PRODUCT WITHOUT COOKING? It's hard enough to eat it when it's cooked, much less frozen solid. Oh, and I love Item 4 on the Microwave Cooking Instructions: "Remove wrap from pouch before eating."

You don't say.

Actually, the All-American Breakfast Wraps I just ate -- I had two, which account for two (2) servings, said serving size being one (1) wrap -- were pretty darn good. This was somewhat of a surprise, given that they consisted of Scrambled Egg Whites, Reduced Fat Mozzarella & Non-Fat Cheddar Cheeses, Tomatoes, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon & A Cheese Sauce In A Wheat Tortilla. There's little in life that scares me more than a processed cheese sauce.

But they were good, even though the ingredients were excessive. For instance, the applewood smoked bacon. What's up with that?

I mean, everywhere one turns these days, one finds "applewood smoked bacon" on the menu as if it's some sort of goddamned luxury. People. It's bacon. It's pork belly. It's traded via the Chicago Board of Trade along with butter and dry milk. It's not something to get all worked up about. Smoked meat, yes; smoked salmon, yes; smoked bacon, ehhhhh, no. And it's especially not something to get worked up about when one paid ... oh, whatever I paid for the All-American Breakfast Wraps.

While we're on the topic of inappropriately-venerated food items, can someone tell me why people think having more than one cheese in a dish makes that dish better? I mean, maybe it's just a successful marketing trick, but it's starting to get out of hand: there are frozen pizza brands which proudly advertise they have a full five cheeses on board. I'm sorry, but what the hell? The idea behind a good cheese is that you can actually taste it. If you have too many cheeses, the flavors run into each other and you end up with this wretched industrial amalgam of cheese.

Speaking of wretched, I've just noticed that on the top flap of the All-American Breakfast Wraps box, there's an exhortation for the consumer to "Try all delicious offerings!" Since that's where I opened the box, I can't read what's left of the tiny advertising script, but I do see the myriad flavors of Kraft's All-American Breakfast Wraps are prominently mentioned.

Oh wait. Now that I look closely at it, only my particular box had All-American Breakfast Wraps in it. Well, I'm glad to see we've clearly demarcated the lines between Real Americans' Breakfast Foods and those favored by our cowardly enemies. Yeah. Hey, you with the Denver-Style Breakfast Wrap -- you think you're pretty hip and far out, don't you, son?

Still, though, this box is a triumph of American marketing.

You see, on the front cover, there's this giant picture of an All-American Breakfast Wrap lazing about on something that looks like a towel. Clearly, this represents the typical breakfast wrap consumer in the Northeast, who wishes he was in someplace tropical, like Puerto Rico. Also, the box proudly notes that each All-American Breakfast Wrap has just 200 calories, yet 19 grams of protein. Also, each has 20 pc of my daily saturated fat allowance, and -- well, OK, so that's only noticed if one looks for it. But hey. Saturated fat allowance, current account deficit, what's the big deal?

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 7, 2006 11:12 PM | TrackBack