Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Paul Newman's Controversial Oreo Knock-offs

The Times has an interesting story today in its Dining & Wine section about those Oreo clones I've been seeing in the "health" food aisle of the supermarket. (I've been tempted, but never bought them, cause I know I'll eat an entire bag in two days... Mmm, Oreo-clones...) They're manufactured by Newman's Own, and are called Newman-Os. (Are they made from real Paul Newmans?)

Real Oreos, of course, are unbelievably bad for you. In addition to just the levels of fat and sugar (so good!), the fat that they use to make that creamy filling is hydrogenated vegetable oil. Basically, shortening, roughly as healthy as a slab of sweetened lard between two chocolate crackers. Instant heart-attack. There's been a widespread movement in recent years to get rid of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and the saturated trans fats they're chock full of, using liquid oils (soy, canola) when possible, and other solid oils when necessary. This is where Newman-Os come in. They've replaced the hydrogenated oil with palm oil, a partially saturated oil that is solid at room temperature, and can thus be used to make delicious creamy lard-like fillings. Healthier than shortening, but not exactly olive oil when it comes to your health.

The new controversy, according to the Times, has to do with the way palm oil is harvested. In Southeast Asia, forests that are habitat for orangutans are being replaced with palm plantations, as exports of palm oil to the US food industry are growing rapidly for products like Newman-Os. Now, Newman's Own uses environmentally sound palm oil from South America, and so does not directly contribute to starving photogenic orangutans. However, like crude oil, palm oil is fungible, and increasing demand for South American palm oil just means that the majority of orangutan-hating food manufacturers will purchase from Southeast Asia instead. Eating Newman's Own Oreo-clones doesn't solve the problem.

So, what to do? My solution: homemade Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies, made with butter.



At 11:52 AM, Blogger jay_morris said...

I'm still laughing (and drooling) at your abrupt (and excellent) post-ending suggestion.

And I can tell you that I'll never lick another Oreo again. Yuck! They should hire you to write the warnings on cigarette packages!

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Mona said...

Jay Morris, I couldn't have said it better myself. I completely agree! Harlan, nice work! BRING ON THE BUTTER!
I mean, everything Paul Newman makes goes to his "Hole in the Wall" foundation" so let's let him make anything he wants. If next up is Paul Thins or Fig Newmans I could care less.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Harlan said...

:) "Paul Thins" reminds me of a post on 101 Cookbooks recently. Heidi there reverse-engineered Girlscout Thin Mints and made them from scratch! (The comments are quite extensive and impressive too...)

At 11:23 PM, Blogger megc said...

Dang, I love the mint chocolate Newman-os. Super tasty! I don't buy them very often because I'll eat them all. I had a housemate who loved them and bought them often. They are vegan, by the way.

I love chocolate chip cookies made with butter!

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but then you gotta deal with the PETA people mad about dairies.

The answer: don't eat.

At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saturated fats are NOT the same thing as TRANS fats. Please get it straight.

Saturated fats can be very healthy for you (virgin coconut oil, the fat from grass-fed cows, real butter) but TRANS fats are bad news. Period. Most trans fats are made from hydrogentated veggie oil (Crisco).

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Lydia said...

"There's been a widespread movement in recent years to get rid of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and the saturated trans fats they're chock full of"

Hydrogenated oils aren't "chock full of" saturated fat. That's the reason they have to be hydrogenated in the first place: they're "liquid" because they aren't saturated.

As another posted suggested, it seems you confused saturated fat with trans fat. I realize this was written in 2006 and hope you've learned since then.


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