Comparing the Lunchables

Ah, Lunchables. A stack of thick, fluorescent cheese approximation, waiting to be peeled apart, paired with a slice of a hog’s stuffed rectum and folded between two deliciously cheesy Ritz Crackers. I love ‘em and have since I was a child, when the only three varieties were Bologna, Ham or Turkey.

Now there’s 43 different varieties. Lunchables include Oreos and bottles of spring water with Kool-Aid powder; the varieties are endless, from make-your-own-cold-nachos plates to chicken nuggets varieties that ask to be sprinkled with the contents of Pixy Stix before they are consumed.

Naturally, kids love this stuff, while adults do what they did to smoking, drinking and fast food — crap all over the greatest things in life for a perceived lack of healthiness. To illustrate the gastronomic disparity between kids and gray, joyless adults, check out Slate’s Lunchables taste test.

The only product the two groups could both agree on was Lunchables Mess With Your Mouth Chicken Dunks, ranked Minus 5 Billion on a scale of culinary excellence by both children and adults alike. Contents: “Breaded chicken nuggets, Sour Tongue Tasting Fizz, ketchup.” I’ll slip into adult mode for a second to comment: bleccccch.

Are any of these premade meals worth buying? [Slate]

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  1. homerjay says:

    I was JUST looking at these last night in the grocery store for the first time. My son wanted them for his school lunch. Then I did what I don’t often do- looked at the nutrition thing on the back…

    Good God, you may as well walk up to a pig and bit the nose and toenails off and wash it down with a tall glass of high fructose corn syrup.

    Lunchables are contributing substantially to the obesity of our kids. A LOT of kids in my son’s kindergarden class eat them.

  2. Mike_ says:

    I read ingredient lists more than most people (I’m a vegetarian, and manufacturers like to put chicken fat in surprising places). It never ceases to amaze me how much of our food contains corn. Even Pepperidge Farm Cubed Sage & Onion Stuffing mix (the dried bread crumbs in a plastic bag) has high fructose corn syrup in it. I can just imagine the R&D folks at Pepperidge Farm working on this one: “Yeah, this is pretty good, but can we find a way to put corn syrup in it?”

    Slightly off-topic (sorry), but on the subject of processed food, at least.

  3. LTS! says:

    Lunchables solve a huge problem parents have. They are lazy. Woot. Just throw the kid a premade snack and be on your way! No more time wasted looking after the kid, who needs that hassle!

    It’s nasty..nasty..nasty.

    And HFCS should be sent the way of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (transfat). It’s just horrible for you. Heaven forbid we use cane sugar! Having recently been in Costa Rica I was so happy to once again drink Coke as it was originally intended.. with cane sugar, not HFCS. What a difference!

  4. etinterrapax says:

    I love how the advertising for Lunchables make the kid who has one into some kind of a hero. Congratulations, your parents are too hassled to see to your nutrition. And too rich to care, evidently. Those things are hella expensive. A much healthier kids’ lunch can be assembled for a fraction of that cost. I expect adults who work outside the home all day are accustomed to shelling out more for lunch, and so the cost must seem reasonable to them. But it sort of reminds me of that line from Clerks: “Would you pay someone $50 a week to kill you?

    That Joyce chick sounds like she was raised on bark in the seventies, though. If it’s not the fat, it’s the sugar. If it’s not the sugar, it’s the salt. She sounded like she could find nutritional fault with air and purified water, given the chance (“Do you know how much sodium is in purified water?!”).

    The use of corn would bother me more–and when corn syrup is substituted for cane sugar, it bothers me a lot–but my mom has celiac disease and needs to eat gluten-free, so it makes her life a lot easier. I prefer to make things for her that are naturally GF, rather than adapting something like baked goods that are really best with wheat flour, but having corn starch to use as a thickener helps a lot.

  5. Triteon says:

    You’re better off throwing out the “turkey”, “ham”, “swiss” and “cheddar” and eating the packaging instead.

  6. kerry says:

    LTS – You can have your soft drinks sent to you from Texas, where most bottlers use sugar, not corn syrup. Also, if you have a Mexican neighborhood nearby, check the bodegas and supermercados, a lot of them stock imported Mexican soda which is also made with sugar. I love me some Mexican Crush and tamarind Jarritos.
    I used to buy Lunchables when I was in college as a truly guilty indulgence. They put all that fat and corn syrup in there to make it taste good, and it does. I’ve since learned that maybe there are better things to spend $5 on.

  7. And this is why I switched to only eating fresh veggies and fruit, and meat, with the occasional Izze soda thrown in.

  8. homerjay says:

    No Oreo’s, deli meat, or white bread, Simone? :) I wish I had that willpower.

  9. I emailed them because I was wondering when they came out. They’re older than I thought:

    From: Kraft – Lunchables Mom
    To: Bon Jour, Pee Wee
    Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 3:57 PM
    Subject: RE: Your Comment/Question


    Hi Bon Jour Pee Wee,

    Thank you for visiting http://www.lunchablesmom.com.

    In 1988 the Oscar Mayer Division introduced Lunchables lunch combinations in Seattle, Washington late in the year.

    Then, in 1989 Lunchables were rolled out nationally in the U.S.

    Kim McMiller
    Associate Director, Consumer Relations