Wonderful Spam

Hormel Foods' (Austin, Minn.) Spam long has been the subject of good-natured teasing. In fact, the widespread ridicule heaped upon the spiced ham product could be considered something of a badge of honor and, now, fans of the cans have a couple bits of good news.

Spamalot is a new musical “lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (which, as its own tagline attests, “Set the cinema back 900 years”). In honor of the new musical and the comedy troupe which first graced audiences with “Spam-ty Spam, Wonderful Spam,” the canned meat will feature a new flavor.

Spam golden honey grail is a limited edition flavor found in a “Spamalot Collector's Edition” can, which features Spamalot graphics and characters from the new musical and instructions in “Spamalot-ese” and on how to “cooketh” Spam.

While the Cutting is Good

Although some analysts believe the carbohydrate-cutting phenomenon to be fading, companies continue to bring their low-carb offerings to market, and only time will tell if any of these launches (or their similarly themed predecessors) have any staying power.

A case in point comes from Del Monte Foods (San Francisco, Calif.). Realizing that low-carb dieters were forgoing the health benefits of fruit, the company has developed the Carb Clever brand. This line of canned fruit claims to provide the same nutritional benefits of regular canned fruit but with 50% to 70% fewer carbs.

According to ACNielsen (New York), 44% of low-carb dieters have cut back or stopped eating fruit as a result of the diet. Del Monte Carb Clever products are packed in water and sweetened with aspartame, rather than heavy syrup or natural fruit juices. Carb Clever includes sliced peaches, fruit cocktail, sliced pears, pear chunks and peach chunks.


Juices also have joined the low-carb frenzy. Old Orchard Brands (Sparta, Mich.) has launched a new moniker and look for the new year, believing that the Healthy Balance line of fruit juice cocktails will “appeal to the tastes of kids, moms, dads, dieters and individuals with diabetes.”

Originally branded as Old Orchard LoCarb back in the fall of 2003, the line has expanded to include 10 flavors. Made with aspartame, all have 75% less sugar than other Old Orchard offerings.

Meanwhile, Welch's (Concord, Mass.) has introduced a line of light juice cocktails, promising fruit flavor and less than half the calories, carbohydrates and sugar. The three flavors in the line are light grape, light white grape and light white grape peach. Also sweetened with aspartame, Welch's light juice cocktails additionally have been fortified with calcium.

Feed Them, and They Will Eat

With consumers gradually realizing that low-carbohydrate dieting is not the one-size-fits-all, easy fix for obesity, attention once again turns to the reasons behind the girth of the nation. Furthermore, although this clarion call has been sounded previously, researchers are attempting once more to convince consumers that it may be okay to see the plate among all of their food.

The Journal of Nutrition reports that the increase in the portion size of food products in the U.S. during the past 20 years “may be responsible for the epidemic of overweight and obesity.” Undergraduate students at Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) were given access to a buffet lunch three days a week, were told that it was part of a test of flavor enhancers and were told to eat as much or as little as they wanted. Divided into three groups, the subjects were then served either 100%, 125% or 150% of the amount of food they had consumed the previous week.

According to the report's authors, “When larger amounts were served, significantly greater amounts of food were consumed,” leading researchers to conclude that environment plays a “powerful role” in determining energy intake and potential increases in body weight.