Who's inventing your food? Probably a corporate chef
June 9th, 2011
02:00 PM ET
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Unless you’re grinding peanuts into butter and emulsifying egg yolks into mayonnaise at home, Einav Gefen has probably touched your food in some way.

Since 2008, 39-year-old Gefen has acted as corporate chef at Unilever in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Unilever is one of the world's leading consumer product companies, encompassing more than 400 brands including such pantry, refrigerator and freezer mainstays as Ben & Jerry’s, Bertolli, Lipton, Breyers, Skippy Peanut Butter, Ragú, Hellmann's, Knorr and Wish-Bone.

Having spaghetti and dumped on a jar of Ragú pasta sauce? Thank Gefen. Cooled down in the summer with a Popsicle®? That’s her team’s doing too. Worldwide, the corporation has close to a 50 percent share of the global grocery market and invests nearly $1 billion every year in research and development – including in the edible category with Gefen as top chef.

If you’ve never really given much thought about who exactly is designing your food outside dining establishments, you’re in good company: Gefen herself didn’t really either.

A highly-skilled chef in her own right, Gefen started out working at fine dining restaurants throughout Israel before coming to New York City to join the kitchens of Danal and the three Michelin starred Daniel.

She later transitioned into a chef-instructor role at the Institute of Culinary Education, where a student approached her about an opening in corporate chefdom and promised to e-mail Gefen the details.

“So I read the job description which was two pages long with lots of great information, yet I couldn’t understand for the hell of me what this person did from nine to five,” Gefen said. “But it intrigued me enough to send in my résumé.”

After a series of interviews and an “Iron Chef” type exercise where she created and presented three dishes from whatever was in the refrigerator, she was offered the gig.

On a day-to-day basis, the corporate chef methodology soon became clear: start like a chef, end like a consumer. For Gefen, it was an easy transition as a trained cook and also as a busy, working mother.

As for inspiration, “it’s first and foremost consumer interest,” said Gefen. “There’s no point in me developing anything that I know won’t be shopped for by our consumer.”

The testing facility she works in reflects the same chef-to-consumer mentality. The facility is split into two components: on one end is a test kitchen mimicking a consumer’s home, complete with electric and gas stovetops, a variety of microwaves and everyday equipment like non-stick pans and wooden spoons.

The other end is a legitimate restaurant kitchen that includes a full suite of appliances, a huge "pass" or work area, a deep-fryer, a sous-vide machine – basically if you name it, they’ve got it to play with.

“I feel like a kid in a toy store,” Gefen said.

Once in the kitchen, it’s a drawing board-to-shelf process. Each product starts in development as a culinary image or an idea. From there, they develop that idea into a recipe, and then ultimately into a final product that stands on the shelf.

Once the product is market-ready or already in-market, they move their focus to the consumer end of the kitchen and develop recipes that use that particular product.

“Not only do we help bring ideas to life and pull attributes in the creation process, we come in as quality gatekeepers down the road to make sure anything we created that is up-scaled is true to the quality we want to deliver,” Gefen explained.

“It won’t be like the pasta I cooked for four people on the stove, but you really want to stay as close to that image in quality as possible. Taste is the main driver.”

In the end, Gefen said they easily introduce up to 20 new products in the market every year depending on the current trends and demands.

But going corporate doesn’t come without its fair share of criticisms, from junking up our country’s food system to selling out.

“They are doing what the companies that hired them want them to, presumably. Food companies are about food products, not foods,” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

“Food products are where the added value money is. So the chefs’ job is to create food products that people will buy and will produce profits for the company.”

Despite recent national pushes toward the much buzzed-about “organic” and “sustainable” movements, corporate chefs like Gefen do ultimately have to focus on what the mass consumer wants and will buy.

Gefen said Unilever has recently tried to launch a series of organic products, like Bertolli sauces, but they just didn’t do very well.

“With the economy taking a little bit of a step back, organic took a step back with it just because of the nature of paying more for something that is organic.”

As for the sustainability aspect, Gefen said Unilever is conscious of it: making its global mission to double their business while maintaining the same carbon footprint for the next nine years.

In food product development, this means anything from looking at the amount of water a consumer would use in their home preparing the product to how and how far the products are delivered by truck.

As for “selling out to the man,” a highly regarded chef, Nate Appleman, recently received a fair amount of negative and head-scratching national attention from news outlets and blogs when he left the restaurant world to consult for the fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Even though by fast food standards, Chipotle is on the higher end of the spectrum - they source organic and local produce when possible and use dairy from cows raised without synthetic hormones - it was viewed as a step down for his career by many within the restaurant industry.

In a guest blog on Zagat, Appleman explained his motives to the naysayers:

“Chefs talk about making a difference with reverence and righteousness. And while I have been very proud of the work I've done – whether it was my commitment to butchering and using the entire animal, or supporting responsible farming – I honestly feel that I have made very little impact. With this new job, I’m a part of an organization that can truly make a difference by serving food with integrity to millions of people, as well as supporting numerous farmers and ranchers that are growing vegetables and raising animals the right way.”

Gefen herself also doesn’t worry about the negative perception, but instead agrees it’s all about impact.

“If you’re in a restaurant, you make a difference in 100 to 300 people an evening if all of them are happy campers, and that’s it,” she said. “But if you work for a Unilever and make good products, you easily impact millions of people at a time.”

Plus the transition allowed her one thing the restaurant industry did not: balance - and holidays off, Gefen joked. And for now, she’s happy to stay put and keep learning.

“This job combines many aspects of what I like as a human being. I always liked marketing when I was a kid; I love the science behind food; and I have access to the labs and everything around that. And, I obviously love cooking. So for me, working in it is just an intersection of many, many things that I find fascinating in the culinary world.”

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soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Ozarkhomesteader

    Bertolli didn't succeed as an organic sauce because it did not taste good.

    June 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  2. CharlieB

    As long as we the public keep buying from the multi-national corps our food will continue to get less healhty. I prefer to buy from my local farmer and eat what is in season, food that has been freashly picked has more flavor and is healthier for us to eat and is also better for mother earth.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  3. The Old One

    Just learn the habit of reading labels. If the words on the ingredient list twist your tongue, the ingredient will twist your gut.

    June 10, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  4. me

    One more comment and then I am finished with this. We are free to eat what we want. I just want everyone to actually know what is in the food that is not really food. If it is preserving the food it is pickling you. Regarding the high price of real food – I would encourage you to start small with one item or one meal and see how it goes. Then if it is too much trouble or is too pricey and you like the chemicals have at it.

    June 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Yada Yada@me

      Wow...looks like I picked the right screen name to respond to your post. You win for having the most words in a post with the least amount of meaning. KUTGW.

      June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  5. Kayla

    Why is it, if she is such an amazing chef, Ragu tastes like garbage?

    June 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • CharlieB

      Not amazing just over paided, A real chef takes PRIDE in what they prepar which means they want to give you a tasty and Healthy meal.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  6. John Holroyd

    I have just one word to say...........Soylent............!

    June 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • suj


      June 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  7. Bruener

    There's quite a bit of irrational paranoia in here for a single thread.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • suj

      paranoia? PARANOIA! Have you read the ingredients on those Corporate Food engineered boxes in your grocery stores? It ain't paranoia, its down right disgust. get a pair of glasses and start reading the ingredients on those packages you buy. for instance, are you aware one of the most popular brands of sour cream lists cream last, AFTER the water and milk solids? Milk solids = powdered milk and whatever was left they could scrape off the vat walls.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
      • suj

        just in case you didn't know, sour cream is supposed to be made only of sweet cream and cultures, kind of like what real yogurt is supposed to be, but don't get me started there.

        June 9, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  8. Chad

    Thanks Chef Gefen for all that mediocre food!

    June 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  9. Brigit

    With the exception of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, I no longer buy Unilever products. The quality and integrity of the ingredients just aren't there anymore. Some of us do notice these things. I am now shopping at Trader Joe's to replace many brand name items. Their products taste better and are often cheaper. BTW, I make my own spaghetti sauce and freeze it.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  10. wendy5

    if it comes in any type of packageing its poison; if its got any type of processed sugar in it ; it's worse than poison eat at your own risk; you've been warned

    June 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  11. annie

    Messing with food is so wrong. I shop the peremitter of the grocery store (you know, where the veg. fruit, meat and dairy are)and make my own food. Didn't anyone read the article. They said they weren't talking about Food but Food products. Food products are not food, people. It may resemble food but it is mostly chemicals. None of which can be good for you. These engineered food products are the reason for all the obesity. (Yes, some people eat too much but my husband eats 3 times as much as I do and he weighs 170 lbs (6' tall) and I have to diet and work HARD to keep from getting fat.) Not to mention health issues.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • FoodEng

      Please educate yourself.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  12. csnord

    I probably buy almost none of her products. Possibly mustard and mayo, but beyond that, I can my own spaghetti sauce and make most everything from scratch. I have very few "convenience" products in my house. They are expensive and generally unhealthy. Scratch cooking takes a bit more planning ahead and somewhat more time, but not a lot once you really learn how to do it.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Richard

    Well, with great power comes great responsibility. Einav Gefen is definitiely NOT taking into consideration these millions of people's health in her work. Let's minize the amount of sugars and HFCS out of our food products, and reduce the chemical footprint as much as possible. Then she could help improve millions of people health. If all food were organically and lees chemically made then the cost issue would gradually disappear. people gotta eat right?

    June 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  14. Andrew

    As a food scientist, i agree with the post that most corporate chefs advise in the planning and that's about it. And to the people who claim that processed food is responsible for obesity, no it's not. EATING TOO MUCH FOOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OBESITY. And if you can't read/pronounce something on a food label, then instead of complaining about it, how about you educate yourself about that item. I'm not talking wikipedia education either, I'm talking peer reviewed articles or the FDA website.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • AleeD@Andrew

      Thank you for adding rational thought and clarity. It is much appreciated.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Kerri@Andrew

      I agree that eating too much is one cause of obesity, along with eating the wrong food and maintaining a sedentary lifestyle. However, I think you miss the point about not being able to read/pronounce a food label. I don't think someone is putting food back on the shelf because they cannot figure out how to pronounce "asparagus" ... If one reads an ingredient and does not identify that ingredient as a food, it does not matter if that person educates himself or herself on that specific chemical/additive/preservative. If the person does not want to eat non-food/food products, it is irrelevant that the FDA can provide information regarding the safety or usefulness of a specific non-food ingredient.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
      • Andrew

        But people need to understand that those "chemicals" are safe. Food is chemicals. Most people don't have the basic chemistry knowledge to know that the items they eat are ok. If someone has never taken and passed a biochem course, then their opinion on what is safe doesn't matter because they don't know what they are talking about. And almost every, but not all, ingredient was found somewhere in a plant or animal that we already ate and decided to repurpose it.

        June 10, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • FoodEng

      I am also a food engineer, which of course is an evil profession as everyone is stating here. However if you've ever eaten something out of a package you can thank us. Should we stop selling cars because they lead to injury and death? People need to be responsible for their own actions – including their diet and exercise regime. A healthy diet can include a lot of "processed" foods, and if you don't think so – don't eat them, and stop complaining.

      I used to work for the alcohol industry and everyone I talked to thought that was the coolest job. However alcohol is responsible for more illness and death than food ever will be. If you have a problem with companies catering to the need of convenience, then don't shop at a grocery store (Whole Foods included). I agree with Andrew regarding education, but I wouldn't trust the FDA or USDA as far as I could throw them... their first set of "food groups" included "Butter" as it's own group, and stated that "in addition to the food groups, eat any other food you want!" If you think those organizations have advanced, think again. It's due to them we ever had corn syrup and trans fats in our diets in the first place.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    I'm a former food engineer and I once worked for Unilever and Campbell's. Personally, I did feel like I was selling out and now I'm out of the industry. I don't see how people who love food (as I do) can work for those companies making cheap, sub-par product just because people will buy it.

    Also, as another poster said, your food is really created by food scientists and engineers – many food companies don't hire chefs and if they do, it's just a highly paid resource. Gefen probably doesn't see how these products are ultimately manufactured or even work on the final formula.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • suj

      LOL – food engineer. Do you blow the whistle before you and your buffalo goes down the tracks? Aaaallll ABOARD!

      June 9, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Baruch

    "Despite recent national pushes toward the much buzzed-about “organic” and “sustainable” movements, corporate chefs like Gefen do ultimately have to focus on what the mass consumer wants and will buy."

    More and more people are becoming educated as to the toxic drek being sold and served as food to "the masses" and more people are turning to "organic" and "sustainable" foods, in spite of corporate puff pieces like this article. It is no accident that the quality of food Americans eat has dropped through industrialization and that intelligence has also been dropping. Children need real food in order to grow strong bodies and brains. Stupid people are more easily manipulated by corporate media, serving up corporate drek for minds as well as bodies. Rejecting corporate food is one of the best things a parent can do for their kids.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      So, Baruch, what good is it going to do my kids if we don't have enough left over from paying on car insurance, the mortgage, taxes, health insurance, and the like to buy enough food to feed five people. Looking at the prices in my area, which I've done extensively, $200 of Wal Mart/Meijer food is about equivalent of $500 of organic food. There's quite a price gap. There isn't one organic item cheaper than the store-bought stuff with the sole exception of wild fruit (blackberries, rasperries, some mushrooms).

      June 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
      • Baruch

        Ryan, learn to grow food. Learn about permaculture. If you are in a town or city you can still grow some of your own food. If you are in the burbs or the country you can for sure grow a significant amount of your own food. I hear you, times are tough. I love on very little myself. But we can wean ourselves from corporate food. Also, check out your local food co-op. You can get better quality food there and if you do member work you can usually get a 10% discount. There are options.

        June 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • annie

      Baruch, 100% correct. If more people would buy whole foods the prices would eventually come down and become more affordable for all. Ryan, your comment is just an excuse. You still do not need to buy processed food. Fresh veggies, even the one that are not organic are still better than processed foods from a can, box or jar.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Andrea M

      Funny, I got lots of home cooked meals as a kid, not to mention old school Rudi's organic bread back when they were a little company my mom worked for in Boulder. I turned out fairly smart, good ACT scores, etc. Yet somehow my fiancee who almost never got home cooked meals as a kid is much smarter than I am. The difference between us is I can cook and he really can't be trusted on anything more advanced than box macaroni and cheese. I can look at a couple chunks of salmon, some onions, olive oil, and butter and turn it into awesome, he would just stare at it all not knowing what to do. I know about fats and acids and how to make stuff taste really good, he can operate fancy microwaves.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  17. Ryan in Michigan

    One other comment – you ever notice that the people dying from e.coli in Europe right now got it from fresh vegetables, not frozen or canned ones. Just something I'd like to point out.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • annie

      That's due to not properly washing the vegetables or their hands after going to the toilet.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Baruch

      The vegetables were factory farm vegetables, not small scale CSA or local garden vegetables. Check out your local CSA and Farmer's Market too. If you want better food, you can have it.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • driranek

      Washing doesn't always remove 100% of e.coli or other bacteria, and people have been getting gastrointestinal illnesses since the dawn of time. Other than, uh, cooking the only sure fire way of insuring that food is clear of bacteria is irradiation, which drives the Luddites crazy.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  18. Ryan in Michigan

    For all those naysayers out there, remember one important fact – preservatives are what makes the food affordable for those of us out there who can't afford to spend half our paycheck on dinner. There have been preservatives in food for centuries (salted meats, gelatin in jams and jellies, dehydration for meats, fruits, and vegetables). A lot of these preservatives are natural, so there's no health deficit. I live in an area where the fresh ingredients are two to five times the price of the canned/jarred/frozen ingredients – 1 pound of fresh strawberries = $3.99 at Wal Mart, whereas 1 pound of frozen strawberries = $2.17, for example, which I just purchased last weekend, and they're still frozen and still edible, unlike the moldy "fresh" ones.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • annie

      Ryan, I come from a poor family. There were 6 kids and my father was a laborer and made minimum wage. My mother had to budget every penny my father made. She still did not serve pre-packaged foods. She worked hard growing a garden so we could have fresh veggies and she shopped the markets on bargin days so we could have appropriate amounts of protein and vitamins rich fresh foods. We did just fine. Stop using money as an excuse.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • driranek

      Another big factor is that people want pretty much all foods available all the time, regardless of whether they're 'in season' or not. Either preservatives are used or the food is shipped literally half way around the world in order for me to buy corn on the cob last night even though the first harvest around here won't be for another couple months yet.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  19. me

    Einav Gefen should have a hard time sleeping at night. She surely can not be proud of the fact she has had a hand in all these foods. She has managed to corrupt our food to the point it has a shelf life of nuclear waste. When a product has things in it that you can not pronounce she should not be proud. No wonder we are all having health issues. Until now I did not have a name to hold responsible. Einav please think real food.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bearweat

      check the ingridiants on the new items.. you might want to take your words back..

      June 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Goat Bottoms

    If that's a picture of Jff, or nearly any packaged peanut butter, that doesn't qualify as food.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • suj

      Price of a jar of peanut butter is mucho greater than the price or shelled and roasted peanuts and the little sugar that goes into it when its made at home. Okay, here is one time a blender is good.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  21. KDOG

    The corporate food companies, Unilever, Archer Daniels Midland, ConAgra etc. do nothing more than provide crap for consumers. If you eat the food in the middle of the grocery store on the aisles, which is the food these companies create, than you are setting your self up for cancer, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. There should not be sugar (high fructose corn syrup), hydrogenated oils and excessive levels of sodium in everything you eat. The only ingrediant in peanut butter should be peanuts. A good Italian gravy (marinara or spaghetti sauce) can be made easily and quickly from fresh ingrediants and you don't have to have gone to culinary school to do it.

    Americans need to start reading labels.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  22. Sam

    Believe it or not, there are university degree programs in Food Science and Technology. It's people like me who come up with many of the things you find in the grocery store. It's not necessary to work in huge cities at preposterous restaurants to learn about food product design. Food Science is a great opportunity for people who aren't afraid of science, and love food! Since I got my degree in '97, jobs come looking for me and I take my pick.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • suj

      Oh yeah. Is her name on the Taco Bell "All Beef Taco Meat" recipe?

      June 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  23. Dood

    The older I get, the more skeptical I am of this stuff being called........."food". So many artificial ingredients and fillers. No wonder we're suffering from an obesity epidemic. Who knows what these chemicals are doing to us long-term.

    I'm very Libertarian when it comes to politics but will gladly approve of stricter FDA policies regarding what's put in our food.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • driranek

      After recent politics here in Wisconsin I've suddenly become Libertarian. I'd go a step further – food makers can put whatever they want in the 'food' provided the FDA requires them to clearly state the ingredients in a fashion that doesn't require a chemistry degree to understand.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  24. matthew

    Who's inventing your privacy? probably a corporate company

    June 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I am a food scientist who works in the field of food product development for a major food company. This article is very misleading. Large companies have a handful of corporate chefs who work as resources. They rarely, is ever, actually invent or develop the food product but are there in a support function. The ones inventing your food are a mix of engineers, ChemE's, and food scientist.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • AR

      I am a food scientist as well and i agree completely. Chefs usually come up with ideas, but the scientists figure out how to make it happen.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • suj

      Processed foods – the heart of America's obesity. Way to go food engineer.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Foodie

      I am one of those Chemical Engineers that spent 10 years at the largest American Food company in the 80's and 90's. I agree. I only met a chef once or twice in all my time. Our role was to figure out how to deliver foods that people would buy at the cheapest cost possible in ingredients. We used sophisticated technology to process cheap ingredients to make them palatable. For example taking cheese and adding fillers, oil, flavors that had been distilled or synthesized and lots of water (the worlds cheapest ingredient after air!) and selling for the price of the equivalent of 100% cheese. I am out of that now but I am a very picky consumer!

      June 10, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Jorge

      The only food 'engineer' who is worth anything to me is the one who created the first seed that sprouted out of the ground or the first species that ran across a field. 'Engineered' food is crap compared to fresh produce and mast-fed meat, home-made aiolli with wine is better than 'sandwich spread (yuck), fresh fruit salad is better than 'fruit spread', queso fresco is better than 'pasteurized processed cheese food', homemade sofrito is better than bottled BBQ sauce (a sin to put on good meat) and fresh broiled local fish with lime juice and homemade garlic butter is WAAAY better than 'imitation crab seafood product'. So much for 'engineers'.

      June 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  26. TrinaB

    so this Gefen person invented peanut butter, mayo and bottled pasta sauce? interesting I thought peanut butter was much older

    June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      No, Trina B, she didn't invent these food items. She simply invents new recipes to make these items. You know, adjustments, like adding a different spice to the mayonnaise or less sugar and a different strain of peanut to peanut butter. It's not that different from, say, adding honey to a peanut butter and mixing it up (something Jiff and Peter Pan do, come to think of it). You didn't invent peanut butter; you just changed it a little bit. Does that make more sense?

      June 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
      • suj

        She learns to make cheap things taste more expensive and prices them according to taste.

        June 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  27. GastroDude

    This is an aspect of the food and beverage world that we rarely think about. A very interesting read. Kudos on the article!

    June 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  28. Jen

    I think peanut butter was invented before 2008. I could be wrong though.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • George Washington Carver

      I'm going NUTS!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Kristin

      Yes, it was, actually- you are so right on that!

      Nowhwere did it say she invented peanut butte but as a former employee of Unilever, they are continually doing R&D on ALL of their products, not jsut coming up with new ones. How to make things better and stay competitive in the market place. Case in point- all food manufacturers had to be complient with the no-trans fats law.... that was soemthing I know personnally was be done years before it was required.. how to stay compliant with FDA regulations and stay competitive are all part of the industry.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
      • Corporate rep

        Pretty obvious you are a corporate foodie asked to respond to these comments. After working in the corporate food world for 8 years, in the regulatory arena, I understand. But your response sticks out like a sore thumb. So do several others.

        June 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • suj

      How the heck can you improve peanut butter except by improving its sales margins. "Hey joe, suck out this peanut oi from the peanut butter and replace it with canola oil, we can repackage the peanut oil in a fancy bottle and sell it for major margins. This makes me think this lady is a WITCH!

      June 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  29. Evil Grin

    On topic – I never thought about there being an actual chef behind prepackaged foods – especially foods like peanut butter. I suppose someone had to come up with the original recipe and the packaging process, but I thought that was as far as it went.

    June 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • The Lisper

      If you ate Peter Pan peanut butter when it had salmonella,the mice and rats were the chefs!

      June 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
      • Annunaki

        The rodent chefs...that gave me the biggest laugh all day.

        June 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • suj

        Ratatouille – Remy the rat chef – ding ding!

        June 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  30. Evil Grin

    I know it has nothing to do with the article – I'll make an appropriate comment in a moment – but spaghetti sauce from a jar is the worst. Ragu, Prego. They just don't taste like real sauce. This is actually the one thing that I absolutely never fudge on. I just really do not like jarred spaghetti sauce.

    June 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jeff

      Ever try the Hunts in a can? The flavor that does not have cornsyrup is a good short cut in a pinch.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
      • Evil Grin

        Hunts is actually probably the only canned or jarred spaghetti sauce I'd use, but like you said, only in a pinch.

        June 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
      • Kristin

        I have to agree with actually. If I do not have homemade sauce, I go for Hunt's in the cans. 1- A lot cheaper than any of the jarred sauces so that tells me the nearly $4 price tag fopr those are packaging expenses 2- It actually tastes good- and yes, not cornsyrupy.

        June 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
      • Kaitlyn

        Jeff, Hunt's in the can is real good. I needed some sauce 2 nights in a hurry and had my son go to the store for me. When I saw the Hunt's, I was kinda upset with him, but after the fact, I'm very glad he went to the store! Glad to know someone else thinks the same things about a canned sauce!

        June 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
      • suj

        i has to use it once on a only cook whats in the strange kitchen challenge and now I keep a can in my pantry, just in case. It beats the heck out of most jarred spaghetti sauces.

        June 9, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • mecatfish

      Evil-The way you can tell a good one. Put some sauce in a tupperware bowl and nuke it. You will see the sauce stains the bowl. Now try it with home made. Dosent stain the bowl. All the ones that stain are bad tasting to me.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
      • Delta@mecatfish

        Call me crazy, but wouldn't it be just as easy to, say, taste it to see if you like it? You can always make yourself hurl if you don't like something, but why ruin good tupperware?

        June 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
      • Big Log

        I have the same problem with my toilet bowl.

        June 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
      • Len

        Actually, that just depends on the quality of your tomato paste ^^;;

        June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
      • suj

        I'm certain the stain around the plastic bowl is from oil. After seeing that once or twice, lesson learned, no plastic in the microwave except for crafting projects.

        June 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
      • Evil Grin

        Big Log – how do you fit the toilet bowl in the microwave?

        June 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Len

      You may want to try some of the expensive jarred sauces. I usually pay anywhere from $5 to $10 a jar for my sauces when I'm in a bind. I usually make mine from scratch using an old family Italian recipe. I have found Classico to be a good cheap alternative though.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
      • annie

        There's a really good one you can get at Costco called Victoria White Linen. Not expensive but has really good ingredients. Nothing artificial or that you can't pronounce. Actually that is what I look for when I buy convenience foods. The ingredients have to be natural and NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Otherwise I make my own food from scratch. NEVER buy peanut butter with sugar in it. It should be just peanuts and salt. (unless you don't want salt then just buy the one that says Just Peanuts.) I have found that Kroger brand (that's a store brand) is really quite good and not too expensive. In 36 years I have never bought the national name brand peanut butter with sugar and my family really likes what I get. You just taste peanuts. Sooo good!

        June 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Katie

      Actually, the Muir brand organic spaghetti sauces are a good base. I love the Italian Herb variety. Lots of nice chunks of tomato. Now....I do still doctor it up, onions/garlic/basil/salt/pepper, but as a starting point, it's the best I've found, and it's organic, AND it doesn't cost a fortune.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • The_Mick

      Lot's of people don't like the prepared sauce taste. I've made my own from scratch – marinara, bolognese, etc. and played with all kinds of spices, meats and veggies (summer squash works great if you want to cut the amount of pasta!). But most of the time it's too much work and I find the $1 Hunts or $1.29 Mama C... (Aldi's brand) or Francesco Rinaldi to every bit as good as the $3 or more per bottle spaghetti sauces. I usually add ground beef or pork or Italian sausage and diced tomatoes, sauteed onions/green or red bell peppers/garlic, and dry Italian seasoning (most oregano and thyme) to the prepared sauces to kick it up a notch. But I've also tried carrots, peas, corn, green beans, etc. in my sauces and they're not all bad – the big chunky stuff like diced summer/zucchini squash, cauliflower, and broccoli seems to work best. When experimenting, go light at first. I'm on a "eat more good veggies" crusade and will keep trying to fit them in everywhere!

      June 9, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Jorge

      Amen, there's NOTHING like home-made.

      June 10, 2011 at 8:58 am |
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