Are WTF Bagels the New Frankenfood?

Is anyone else out there a little freaked out by the advancing frankenfoods?  I don’t mean frankenfood in the genetically modified sense.  I’m talking about modified foods with chemicals, additives, and such strange shapes and flavors that an item ceases to be recognizable as the food it is supposed to be.

Here are characteristics of what I’m calling frankenfood:

  • Contain ingredients you cannot pronounce without a PhD in chemistry.  For example, see Twinkie, Deconstructed for an annotated, disturbing, and detailed look at each of the ingredients in Twinkies.
  • High fructose corn syrup tends to be a main ingredient.     
  • Generally inspires a “what the hell is that freaky thing??” reaction.

Two cases in point:

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Twist.   
    • I love iced coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and really love their new Dark Roast.  However, from time to time I may be particularly harsh on Dunkin’ because you can’t throw a football in this town without hitting one, and it greatly annoys me that something so prevalent and convenient has such bad, bad food.
    • But honestly, does anyone else understand why Dunkin’ Donuts is trying to turn a bagel into a pastry?  I mean, really, why?  Why not just create some crazy pastry?  I don’t get it.  In addition, let’s see what’s inside this “bagel”:
      • Bagel Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Raisins, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains less than 2% of the following: Degermed Yellow Corn Meal, Soybean Oil, Salt, Cinnamon, Yeast, Rice Flour, Vital Wheat Gluten, Dough Conditioner (DATEM, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Azodicarbonamide); 
      • White Icing Ingredients: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Artificial Flavor, Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier).
    • By way of comparison, here are cinnamon raisin bagel ingredients from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required):
      • High-gluten flour, table salt, barley malt syrup or powder, vanilla, cinnamon, raisins, dry active yeast, water, and cornmeal.
  2. Panera Breads Plain Bagel.

    • I love, love, love Panera.  I love the unlimited free wireless, I love that their employees will help you find an outlet so you can recharge your laptop, I love that they give money back to the community, I love that the customers are nice to you and will help you plug in your laptop even if it is inconvenient, I love that they put their nutrition information right on the menu so you can make educated choices about what to order or you can use their nutrition calculator to understand what you’re eating there, and I love that you can sit there for hours on end without getting hassled.  It’s no wonder then that while many other restaurants closed during the recession, Panera was expanding.   And like Starbucks, they offer health insurance to even their part-time employees.
    • The only reason I include Panera in this list is because I can’t figure out what happened to this plain bagel and I’m hoping a reader here can fill me in.
      • Plain bagel ingredientsUnbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, bagel base (sugar, salt, malt barley flour, contains 2% or less of: molasses, mono and diglycerides, ascorbic acid, L-cysteine, azodicarbonamide [ADA], enzyme, ammonium chloride), brown sugar, yeast.
      • I recently brought some plain bagels home and toasted one.  What in this ingredient list or in bagel preparation or _____ would have caused these plain bagels to literally bubble up?  I’m told sometimes having eggs as an ingredient can cause this but there are no eggs in the ingredient list.  I’m totally confused and hoping you can provide some answers.

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