It’s really amazing how the times have changed since I was a kid. I’m not talking about social mores or the atomic bomb or even television. Many things that you don’t think could possibly change are changing.

Take for instance... oatmeal! The biggest changes in that department have come about because we are now a society that is heavily into instant gratification. No long, boring waiting around for us; stopping to smell the roses is not what we are into today! (By the way; have you noticed that the prettiest roses no longer have much of a scent? No wonder we don’t want to smell them!)

The reason I’m writing this is because I received a small sample of a new oatmeal product. (You never know what will stir the creative juices of a hack writer such as myself, do you?) I wondered what could be so special about blueberry oatmeal that they would send me a sample. After I read the ingredients on the package, I no longer wondered.

It started out OK. Whole grain rolled oats is still the principal ingredient. (Wonder of wonders!) I sort of expected that blueberries would have been the second ingredient, but they fooled me on that one. Guess what? There are no blueberries in it at all! Instead, they use blueberry flavored fruit pieces! From reading the list of ingredients following, I guess these “blueberries” must be made from chopped up and dehydrated figs.

Here is the recipe for them if you are interested in making some. Dried figs, dried corn syrup solids, modified food starch, sugar, dextrose, glycerin, blueberry concentrate, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, artificial flavor, blue 2 lake, red 40 lake (those two are food coloring agents), inulin, oat bran, potassium gluconate, natural and artificial flavors (contains barley gluten, so watch out all you non-glutenators), calcium carbonate, (must be for your stomach after you eat this stuff), ascorbate, vitamin E acetate, yeast extract, sucralose, niacinamide, beta carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, (and last, but not least) cyanocobalamin!

It seems to me that it would be a heck of a lot easier just to put real blueberries in the package. Probably a lot cheaper, too. They are so common in Maine that if you clear a spot on the ground, blueberries pop up. They stain the cuffs of your pants if you walk through them. There are literally tens of thousands of acres of them growing up there. The blueberry plains stretch to the horizons!

My wife’s favorite drink is English Toffee flavored coffee. I love English Toffee. It’s made from a few simple ingredients and is delicious! You use real butter, brown sugar, water, salt, semi-sweet chocolate, and chopped pecans. In the hands of a decent cook, the result is fantastic. You can get addicted to English Toffee. But, after the blueberry scare, I thought I had better check out the ingredients in her favorite drink.

Get ready, ‘cause here they are: Sugar, (OK, so far) corn syrup solids, maltodextrin, coconut oil, whey, instant coffee, natural and artificial flavor, contains less than 2 percent of the following: salt, cocoa (processed with alkali) cellulose gum, cocoa, (again?) silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent) dipotassium phosphate, sodium caseinate (a milk derivative) sodium tripolyphosphate, distilled monoglycerides, datem, and sodium silicoaluminate (anti-caking agent). Two anti-caking agents! No wonder it won’t dissolve in cold water! With a list of ingredients like this, it’s also no wonder that she loves it. Ha! Distilled ingredients, too. Sounds like white lightning to me!

I realize that some of these ingredients may be just a tad hard to come by locally, but if you go to your pharmacist, he or she may be able to help you out with some of them. If that fails, try going up to Columbus and hanging around lower East Main Street. I’m sure that eventually, some helpful drug dealer will ask you what he or she can do for you.

All is not lost, however. I just had a wonderful cup of tea and after the oatmeal scare, I looked on the package for a list of ingredients. I was shocked to find that there was only one thing in the package: Tea! Nothing else was listed! I think I’ll just stick to tea. Making blueberry oatmeal is much too complicated for an old guy like me.

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