The makers of Oreos are spending significant sums of money to encourage us to do “mindful snacking.”
I am not making this up.
Mondelez International has hired a meditation instructor to school corporate staff in “mindful snacking” as a precursor to a global campaign that will have “snacking mindfully” tips on all of their packaging worldwide by 2025.
How this works is just as daffy as it sounds.
First they have the group do breathing and meditation exercises. Then they slowly reach for one Ritz cracker. They take one bite, set it down, and chew as if they’re a cow savoring their cud. They repeat the process until they’ve nibbled away two crackers.
The people eating are coached on how to savor the bite to develop “a deeper level of awareness to the muscles that it takes to chew, to the physical experience of food in your mouth, to recognize how it feels to swallow.” Those are the words a meditation instructor conducting the “mindful snacking” seminar used as noted by a Wall Street Journal reporter observing the recycling of New Age drivel.
All of this is to make me feel less guilty about eating borderline junk food.
I happened to have Ritz crackers as well as Cheez-Its – a non-Mondelez product – so I decided it give it a try.
After doing the routine that made me feel like a snack cracker version of a wine snob, I came to a conclusion that startled me. The Ritz crackers were much drier and borderline tasteless compared to the Cheez-Its. The texture of the Cheez-Its was superior and didn’t leave a dry, unsatisfying after taste as the Ritz did. It also dawned on me that the Cheez-It actually tasted a bit like cheese while the Ritz tasted like baked and dried up flour drenched in salt as opposed to the Cheez-It that had a less dominating salt taste. The texture of the Cheez-It was more pleasing and easier to swallow.
While I snack on both from time to time and devour them more like the Tasmanian Devil on steroids than a Zen instructor at a high tea, I primarily buy them for long day hikes along with whole wheat fruit bars.
This may not be what Mondelez executives want to hear, but I’m ditching the Ritz to go exclusively with Cheez-Its after finding out eating them slower they aren’t all that good.
I decided to further test the “mindful snacking” approach. I went out and bought Chips Ahoy!, Cadbury Roses chocolates, and Oreos. All three are Mondelez brands.
After just two pieces of chocolate, I realized Mondelez may be onto something. The chocolate tasted 100 percent better, if that is possible. Then it dawned on me. That is how I eat $5 truffles.
Perhaps Mondelez is right about “mindful snacking.”
But then I mindfully snacked two Chips Ahoy! cookies. Instead of being semi-enjoyable, they tasted like cardboard. Then I remembered how Chips Ahoy! used to taste before they made them healthier a number of years ago. Of course that might by an unfair comparison given I certainly wasn’t practicing mindful snacking back in my 20s.
Not that I’ve been buying Chips Ahoy! cookies but the mindful snacking bit made me realize just how great the Grandma cookies – fudge brownie and chocolate chip — that come two in a package are compared to Chips Ahoy! Grandma cookies are moist and feel good going down your throat in slow-mo while I practically choked on the Chips Ahoy! A snack pack of Chips Ahoy! cookies and two Grandma cookies are at the same price making the decision for me a no brainer that mindful snacking helped reaffirm. And If I want to splurge and spend 49 cents more I can get the 7-Eleven “fresh” cookies that are just a step below of what you can get fresh daily in a bakery. I always eat those slower – although not mindful snacking slow – because they taste so good and feel so good to eat. I decided to try the mindful snacking thing with the Oreos and wished I hadn’t.
I used to be able to polish off an entire package of 36 Oreo cookies in an hour or so before I came to the realization three decades plus ago that if you put junk in your body that is what your body will do with it — create junk issues.
It was a major disappointment. I thought I loved the taste of Oreos. The chocolate they use is about as mundane in terms of taste that you can get. It also is baked in a manner that produces a rough and dry texture that reminds you more of a cracker than a cookie.
I dropped by a convenience store several hours later and bought a six-pack of vanilla Oreo cookies. Mindful snacking of them was much more pleasant and appealing.
I then ate a standard Oreo as you normally would without acting like I was testing my palate. It tasted much better than the ones I had mindfully snacked but the damage was done. They aren’t as good as I thought they were back in the days when I would polish off 36 cookies in a day or so.
By the way, I get that you should savor food assuming you have time. I can tell you there are dozens of apples and if you don’t eat a lot of junk and processed foods such as Oreos and Ritz crackers you can tell they have distinct tastes and textures. Eating a little bit slower helps as well but not as much as minimizing junk in your diet.
This should bother people who own stock in Mondelez Industries that contends they are not worried about the planned mindful snacking campaign hurting sales. They actually believe it will help people get over the guilt of eating “treats.”
If people indeed do pick up on the mindful eating tips minus the breathing and meditation exercises beforehand, I can see them asking themselves why on earth are they eating this stuff?
That said I would like to thanks the geniuses at Mondelez Industries destroying the memories I had of eating Oreo cookies. But then again I think I ate them for the same reason most do — for the creamy filling. Maybe what Mondelez Industries needs to do instead of pushing mindful snacking is put out a better Oreo where the chocolate cookie is on par with the filling.
If they do, then maybe they can get taste testers from a yoga class to determine whether they have achieved taste nirvana.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.